Posted in Biblical Calendar, Torah

Learning from the Mo’edim – Matzot 2018

This year we are finally getting a bit more understanding of how Pesach (Passover or The Passover) is actually separated from the Chag Ha’Matozt (Feast of Unleavened Bread) . Im going to start focusing on them apart from each other. This year I think Ive been able to get a bit more traction on a problem that comes up every year.

Fermentoria

Our house has a lot of fermentation history. Ive done everything from almost starting a naturally leavened bread company, to having actually started a fermented beverage company. I have jars of things in various stages of fermentation, many I have used to make incredible bread. We make sodas that we enjoy on Shabbat that are yeast and bacteria driven.

Ive also changed my diet and lifestyle over the last 18 months to a much more reduced carbohydrate paradigm, sometimes even ketogeneic. Our kids eat bread, but it is pretty minimal. So we dont have a lot of it normally. But I have been working on a concept for a coffee cafe which will include biscuits so I do make them,a nd eat small samples occasionally.

The point is, I know a lot about, and have a lot of stuff about fermentation. Yeast and bacteria. And each year, I have to wrestle with what leaven is, how to participate with the commands about it during this week, and how to practically observe it with a whole heart. I dont want to be tricking myself into doing things simply because I dont want to give up a practice or a product or a food. It isnt convenient, or potentially possible to reinnoculate my ferments.

The Scams

It sure is tempting to try and work around this. My brain goes through gymnastics every year:

“I could just store them all in the fridge in the garage”

“I could have someone keep them for me this week and go get them back”

“I should just throw it all out, and find other starters after the holiday”

“We dont actually KEEP this holiday, we arent in the land, there is no Temple you dont have to try”

There are loads more that swirl around. But my heart doesnt want to argue OUT of this. Deep inside I believe there is a way to keep this, even in part, doing my best with a whole heart. Im sure I dont do it perfect, or perhaps even right. But when Yeshua comes back, I want Him to look at me and say “I love you man, and you went for it with everything you had. You were faithful(l) with all your mnd, sould and strength. Now Im going to help you get it all and blow your mind”

The Game of Principles

  1. Obedience isnt optional. It is voluntary, but Ive made my choice, Im in, and I want to do it.
  2. Obedience is a reward. I GET to do this, and I get to enjoy it. Being able to know this stuff, and being able to respond to it IS freedom to me.
  3. Obedience is proportional. Im limited in my understanding, and I can only go with what I know or understand.
  4. I give way. If something needs to be changed, it is on my side of the relationship. I conform to Torah. I dont look for a way to have Torah conform to me. The teachings and instructions are for my good, and the more I submit to them, the better.
  5. It really isnt questionable. If something seems to be unclear, or could go either way, then go with the harder option. Dont back off of a harder choice simply because it is hard. Try to take a swing at it. It is easy to try and make things gray, or ambiguous. Often that is resistance to obedience.
  6. When in doubt, pray, try it, and take notes for next year!

These are some of the ways I try to come to decisions. I do not want to treat obedience to Torah as a goofy experiment. This is real to me. Honestly it seems like a process, experiment, adventure … that is what it is! Im trying things Im not clear on, and hoping for the best.  I dont have traditions, nor do I have community. Even if I did, that isnt Torah, but it would help.

What is Matzot?

Matzah is the root (as far as my limited Hebrew can deduce) for this idea. The link covers every reference to the root and it always seems to describe unleavened bread. Duh, but this might be so simple it is easy to overlook. The Feast is Chag Ha’Matzot. It is the appointed time where we eat bread the isnt leavened.

Chronologically, the first reference to unleavened bread is when Abraham is in Mamre, and has visitors, later realized to have been divine. He had bread made, and simply did it quickly. It didnt have time to rise. I know natural leavening. If you use enough levain to rise something fast, it still takes an hour or more, and it will be so sour it wont bake/brown correctly, and has a high pucker factor! This event is simply make some quick bread to use to eat with some yogurt or something similar, and meat.

The next mention is the actual Pesach event. The simple thing to me is that it was known. There is regular bread apparently, and bread you dont let rise. It is probably a simple and practical idea. But Yah calls it out specifically, in advance. At least 2 weeks ahead of the Pesach event (because later rituals are memorials, not the actual event) he says to do the lamb slaughter, and eat it with unleavened bread.

Wouldnt they have had some left over bread from that day/morning? Every day, you make bread, and you make as much as you can use. You probably wake up the next day and eat what was left. This is a change in routine, on purpose. Make the bread right there, with the lamb, and eat it all quick.

I cannot prove this from scripture, but I have a hunch. If you look at modern groups who make and eat bread daily, they prep their dough the night before, and then the next morning bake it for the day. The fermentation process isnt just for texture. It preserves the grain, and changes the nutrient capacity, reduces some sugars, makes it easier to bake completely. Overall, the whole product is very different when completely fermented. It takes at least 6-8 hours, more like 12 to bring this process to the end.

Is it possible the Hebrews prepped their dough, and that night took some (or all) out early to bake with the meal? And then the deliverance happenned, and they grabbed their stuff, including their kneading troughs, and left. They cooked their dough on the way, or possibly ate the extra from the Pesach meal? Maybe they cooked the whole batch that night and grabbed the left overs.

The point is, God calls out unleavened specifically, in advance. It was a change in routine, and abnormal. And it became the example and the name of the whole memorial event. the whole festival is about the quick and hurried interruption of the normal. But it also had an advance warning. It is about bread, and it not being able to be leavened because of time, and possibly intent. But it is possible that all they did is cook it earlier than normal, and that is why it is “un” leavened. I can easily make bread, and “underprove” it, or bake it early if I dont have time. It doesnt taste as good, and if I dont bake it right, can make my tummy grumpy.

Unleavened bread vs leavening

This is where more confusion sets in. I feel like it is pretty clear above “Dont have leavened bread in your house for a 7 days”. Ok fine. Throw out any puffy risen bread. But then we get to the crux of my dilemma

[Exo 12:15 ESV] 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

Not to be too simple but here are some key points

  • The first day of this 7 days period is when you throw out leaven. Similar to Sukkot, the first day is when the you do the thing. Not the week before. I dont know it is wrong to prep, but at least on that day you execute the activity.
  • This is leaven, not leavened bread. This is a different word (Seor), that actually comes from a more fundamental root (Shaar) and it is talking about the thing left over that causes leavening of bread.
  • You remove it out of your house. Sounds obvious, but I dont know where you put it? We have trash collection etc… not sure what their method was.
  • Anyone who eats what is leavened, or the thing that is leavened. The only thing talked about in this context is bread.

So the best take I can get from this makes it pretty clear:

The leavened thing is bread. Everything references bread. Not wine, not cheese. This isnt about fermentation, it is about bread that is leavened. Obviously this comes from fermentation. But it isnt calling out a specific type of grain, time duration, or any other food product. I have head tons of examples in the jewish traditions about whether legumes are chametz, and the 5 types of grains and 18 mins after contact with water. This is all nuts. If it helps to connect people to a community great but this has 0% to do with the command as far as I can determine.

The thing that does the leavening is the left over dough from a previous batch. Only artisan bakers do this now. But it clearly means to remove your means of leavening. In our home, if we had yeast separate for bread making, I would toss it out. We dont. I dont keep a sourdough starter, but if I did I would toss it out, and make a new one after the feast is over.

But here is a unique (to me) twist…

If I were to make bread, I would use my soda and kombuchas. It makes the best bread. I have spent hundreds of hours researching and making bread. The single best method I know is a 3 ingredient recipe using a “liquid levain”. It is not only more efficient, it is better tasting and handling.

So should I toss all my liquid ferments? I have no way to remake them. They are unique, and I have no resource to get them again. I even have parts of a business reliant on this.

Even if I did have a external resource, I would be getting them essentially from sources that dont keep the feasts. I do lots of things in my life with people who dont keep the feats, or kosher at all. That isnt a problem. But why would I have to engage something non Torah to fulfill Torah?

My Conclusion

It is clear to me this isnt addressed in scripture. The issues is how to keep it in my heart, and be faithful. Realizing that Seor is actually talking about leftover dough helps me to realize that the context is specifically bread, bread dough, and left over dough as a starter. I can make bread out of anything unpasteurized. Beer works well. Raw cheese/whey. I can make puffy things from manipulating ph with baking powder or baking soda. We use baking soda for cleaning too, should I toss it?

No. Because the point is leavened bread, and the left over dough that does the leavening. The point is the making of something out of the norm. The point is the deliverance of Yahweh can come so quickly, even after years of slavery. The point is when you hear the directions, respond in faith, prep, wait, and then go for it when you hear the signal.

If it helps someone to know what we did:

We did remove leavened breads (1 loaf of Ezekiel bread), and the BP and BS I sued for biscuit prep. In hindsight, I think I could have just kept it aside as Im going to simply buy more later. We removed flour tortillas, and anything made with them, because they are leavened with BP and BS. We are going to go through the house and make sure any prepared foods (frozen burritos for examples) are tossed. We arent throwing them away. We gave them to our dear friends who dont keep the feasts.

Im ok with drinking wine, but I wont have beer this week. It is basically liquid bread. It is simply a personal way of keeping this. I dont think it qualifies, but I want my heart to adhere to the “when in doubt” part. I have our sodas, but only for the weekly Shabbat.

Each day this week we are going to make unleavened flat breads. We are going to sit down and eat them. We have to do this intentionally. We dont normally eat bread in any significant amount. So in an odd way, we are keeping this by eating matzoh, not being switching to unleavened bread. We have to focus on doing this, and keep the festival this way.

First Fruits

This is not something Im clear on. I think I get the idea and yet I dont have any understanding or application of it in my modern life. Im not a farmer, I dont present my barley or spring harvest. But I see this as the resurrection day, as well as the start of the counting of the omer. I hope to learn a lot more about this as we go forward.

 

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Posted in Biblical Calendar, Torah, Wandering Mind

Learning from the Mo’edim – Pesach 2018

This year we are finally getting a bit more understanding of how Pesach (Passover or The Passover) is actually separated from the Chag Ha’Matozt (Feast of Unleavened Bread) are truly separated, and realizing some of the debates about it. A lot of things I have never paid attention to previously.

Yeshua, the “Last Supper”, and Pesach / Passover Meal

Wow I had just always gone along with things I had heard abut this from christian traditional teaching. The Last Supper was the Passover Meal, and it looked like what Jewish people do today with a Seder, Haggadah, and all sorts of things. The whole dipping bread into the bowl of Charoset with Judas stuff…

I had no idea there was a different understanding of it, and I didnt realize how it could be a bit important to make the distinction…

If Yeshua was indeed “our passover lamb” (and I like the counter argument here however I see it from both angles), or in some way connected to it obviously from the timing and the claims in scripture, he wouldnt have been eating the actual meal at “The Passover”. Steve Berkson does a great job presenting his argument about why he thinks scripture says this. I also love this post on the reality that the Passover was never a sin offering.

Things like this tend to devolve into endless debates, and even can get intense. Im not trying to do that, and Im comfortable with the tension. The above is just a quick sample of ideas, and all have some interesting perspectives. The main things I have come away with over the last few years are following.

There are lots more points people get into, but I simply had never thought about it, and had never questioned how or why I pictured it this way. It was simply what I had been taught, and hadnt unlearned yet. Im also not sure how deeply it matters, but I find that the preconceived notions I have shape my perception and practice and inform my view and response to who and how I think God works. If it is wrong, or erroneous, it is profitable to change it!

  • Passover was not a sin offering or sacrifice as far as I could tell. Perhaps there is some deeper, non-obvious level to it, but it seems clear it is not related to later Torah commands about sacrifices. It was a sign of obedience and faith in response to the Word of Yah for deliverance from judgement coming to the whole land.
  • The modern seder event seems to have been instituted far later than the time of Yeshua. Nehemia Gordon discusses this with a Jewish scholar and while a bit technical, is really interesting to me. It is respectful, and not trying to debase or antagonize anyone. This would suggest that the meal itself was far simpler and what is being described in the Gospel accounts is actually a profound meal, but not some Jewish Seder like us moderns would superimpose on the account.
  • Yeshua seems to clearly have been executed at Passover. Like perhaps literally at the time thousands upon thousands of lambs were being slaughtered at the Temple. However, while I believe Yeshua fulfilled many, of not all of the Temple sacrifices in many different phases and forms, this is not connected tot he idea of sin or forgiveness. If he was executed at the actual Passover slaughtering, he clearly couldn’t be also eating it at the same time.
  • The Passover isnt even a feast, it is an event that is profound, but it is all mashed together in reference, but actually not the same thing. Again, Nehemia Gordon has great perspective on this and I recommend reading all his linked articles about the nuances.
  • The command to remember this, and to eat it after the actual Pesach event, was not to avoid repeated acts of destruction of the firstborn. It was to reconnect with the reality of the deliverance from the Judgement. It was a pilgrimage for the men, and any women who wanted to come, up to Jerusalem which is connected to, but totally separate from, the Feast of Unleavened Bread which culminates  with a First Fruits offering. This seems to me to be the winding up of the Spring harvest, the chance to thank he Creator and reconnect with the reality of how the promise of Yahweh was fulfilled regardless of all the other circumstances. It was both an overnight deliverance, and a multi-generational process that brought everyone up to that point in time, and this was a week to stop, get centered at the start of a new year, do business with God, and see family before returning home. Culturally, this really would have been a massive event.

This year we had dear friends come over, and their 3 bigger kids, and our 3 each shared something abut 1 of the plagues. Each of the parents also did. For some it was a simple picture, another had a presentation on a laptop, another said how bad it was when they had lice, and someone turned water into dark red liquid. The main idea here was to read the story, and connect just a bit more with the idea of how much judgement had occurred, how devastating it would have been, and how crazy it would be to be a Hebrew, watch all this happen, ask your neighbors for gold and silver, and then leave so quick you barely had time to make food.

One piece that I enjoyed and found challenging was the reality of my daily behavior and experience leading up to the Pesach and Holiday. Under Torah, there are several ways to become ritually unclean. If I were to do that, I wouldnt be able to do certain parts of participation. Yet these are commanded. I have no daily sense of this, and it frankly doesnt apply in the same way as I dont need to go to the Temple. But just thinking about it, and making an effort to conduct myself in ways that would ensure this was a way to connect with this on a deeper level.

Perhaps we are doing it all wrong. I forgot to make bitter herbs, and used some arugula. We have lamb left over, and we are going to burn it. I hate to waste it, but we are trying to connect with the commands themselves, and obey, even if we arent able to do all the other pieces (no temple, no pilgrimage, clean/unclean etc….). My understanding of leavening (chametz and seor) are getting far more simple as Ill discuss in a subsequent article. Maybe Im NOT being aggressive enough. Maybe Im being way too aggressive about this and making it into an idol.

All I can do is stumble through this, and continue to ask for guidance and faithfulness. So many things are changing even as I read over this website. I keep growing and morphing and at the end just hope I have not caused someone to stumble, yet perhaps supported them in their meandering.

Posted in Biblical Calendar, Torah

Learning from the Mo’edim – Yom Teruah 2017

This year we still found ourselves a bit out of sorts with this holiday. For some reason I have a weird time with this as we simply just have a Sabbath, and blow trumpets. Not sure the connections to anything. It seems like this holiday hangs out there without any context.

That may be the point…

This holiday is about watching and waiting to me. I never know truly when it will be, and this year several things businesswise are hanging on my availability and schedule for the subsequent weeks. I sit in orbit, waiting for the update from Israel (we follow the sighting confirmed in Israel of the new moon) and then shut down.

This year it was Friday, so we had a double shabbat. And this means Sukkot is a double shabbat. Party time…

With Trumpets, after you engage it, it just kind of sits there, waiting. Kind of like “we blew the trumpets, we shouted, and we celebrate…. no what?” almost like now we wait again…

I see the connections with the 10 days between Teruah and Kippur(im). I see the tradition of self reflection etc… but nothing in scripture is directing that. Great idea, worth looking at… but what is Yah desiring? Is it just make noise, dont work, celebrate? Fine by me… but I cannot help but think not only am I missing something, but some of the vagueness or lack of structure or instruction is part of it. It is meant to keep me a bit off my game, a little out of routine. It opens up the fall feasts, and indicates something is coming. Sit up and listen and think. Watch out for something. A great interruption.

 

Posted in Biblical Calendar, Torah

Learning from the Mo’edim – Shavuot 2016

This post builds on the basic assumptions listed in Learning from the Mo’edim

Shavuot 2016

I dont post very much as Im so busy and honestly dont have energy and focus to sit down and write stuff out. I just happened to go back through some posts, noticed gobs of spelling errors and was correcting them, and read through last years Learning from the Mo’edim. It reminded me that I hadn’t written down things from this years Pesach or Shavuot.

I cannot recall much of Pesach. I don’t know why! I believe we had a family come over, eat some food and discuss the holiday. And we read through the Exodus together and discussed it. We have an age range of 4 to 8, and lots of interesting questions. I am always reminded of how much deeper I need to dig into these things and prepare.

Shavuot is a whole other challenge for me. 2016 had a bunch of discussions and differing opinions about timing of Pesach. Pesach (Passover) begins the calendar. There are so many ways different folks work around the start of the new year. I see the idea of barley being mature in the field as the indicator that the new year is able to start as the most simple and direct way presented in scripture so far. This is key as it starts the chain of events and dates that set the rest of the year timetable for holidays.

Once we hit Shavuot, I realized that I had made a serious mistake. We had planned a family trip to Alaska. We had to plan this way in advance, and I didnt realize that an appointed time occurred right in the middle of it. This isnt necessarily a problem.  I dont see where Shavuot is a Sabbath, but I might be confused or missing something. But by being on a trip, away from home, with my wonderful extended family who dont remotely care about this stuff threw me off. Combined with the last minute realization of it, I simply didnt give it the attention it deserved.

However, some interesting and redemptive things have occurred. Prior to the holiday, I began to really think about the classic role and reference to “the/The spirit/Spirit”. All the combinations. My background in christian culture, especially charismatic expression has resulted in a whole bunch of presuppositions and biases. There is a whole bunch of things Im unlearning, and it turns out this whole concept is under serious revision.

Oddly, I have come across lots of teaching resources about this very topic. I didnt go searching for it but I came across these resources seemingly accidentally. This has been encouraging that perhaps Im getting divinely guided.

The main ideas that seem to be working themselves out:

  1. The concept of Pentecost in christian context is related to the “giving” of “The Spirit”. This really seems to be plain wrong. There are plenty of references to the spirit of Yah being present from the creation forward. There is nothing new about the working of the Spirit of Yah in human history. What seems to be the new part is the idea of being IMMERSED, or BAPTIZED in the Spirit. I interpret this (so far in my limited understanding) as a quantitative idea. There is an intensification of the work and activity.
  2. The nature and identity of The Spirit is really changing in my mind. The best concept I have heard that seems to connect the dots of scripture for me is an interesting one. The idea of a distilled essence of something. It flies in the face of the classic trinitarian interpretation. The Spirit not being a “person” as much as the deep, distilled essence of Yehovah. This also resonates with a previous mental wrestling match.
  3. Yeshua now seems to embody the Spirit with skin. It is more and more to me that Yeshua IS the Salvation of Yahweh. The Strong Right Arm. And the practical mechanics to me is a picture of the distilled essence of Yah ut into a body with skin. Even the literal teaching of Yeshua brings the distilled essence of Torah to reality. The Sermon on the Mount, where Yeshua talks about the idea of not just murdering someone, but not hating them. The revealing of the distilled essence of the commandments comes out of the mouth of Yeshua, and Yeshua expects disciples who choose to submit to this same Spirit.

Im still in the weeds with these ideas. It is always a trap to listen to someone teach something, and then run with it. Im looking to take the ideas presented and then study and prove it with scripture. The next step is how to practically respond and adapt to the idea. What is Yah expecting of me? How do I agree with this and engage it?

 

Posted in Biblical Calendar

A Word about Time

The title is a play on an earlier post  and Im being intentional about implying a connection with the concept of time and the Word of Yah…

In modern experience, time is something so simplistic and taken for granted. We have dozens of devices that are constantly interconnected and so accurate its hard to imagine how difficult it was for someone even 100 years ago trying to coordinate something that relies on a time reference from more than one clock.  Clocks in different cities were not always coordinated by any objective standard. The accuracy of clocks were themselves a problem, and the corrections to a clock were serious endeavors.

Why is this problem?

As far as I can tell, there are 2 significant issues at hand:

1. Modern, post Industrial Revolution society has resulted in a lifestyle that is so active and dense that life is broken down to ever decreasing slivers of time. The need for accuracy down to hours and minutes (let alone even further) required a shift in thinking.

In history, a central clock (a bell tower, town crier etc…) could adjust and it only changed the experience of the local populous. And when the activities of a common person were agricultural, sunrise and sunset were a self correcting mechanism objective to the clock itself.  If a commitment were made to see someone tomorrow “early” or “first thing” it wasnt a specific hour, but clearly related to sunrise. 10 minutes or even 60 wouldnt be all that perceptible, as the indicator would be light or no light.

With the advent of indoor lighting on demand (electricity) night is like day. People could work longer. Sunset or Sunrise is irrelevant. As this becomes a societal standard, it is the norm or reference. The reality of needing to coordinate timing on things to much greater precision because external reference wasnt precise enough emerged in general behavior.

In modern experience, navigation itself requires sub second precision, and communications rely on much smaller slices of time to triangulate and coordinate communication with satellites. Standards of distance rely on time. A Meter is defined as “the length of the path traveled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second”.

To summarize, modern man created a need for ever increasing precision and took advantage of that precision to produce (and therefore consume) more and more.  It has gotten so common almost no one even wonders seriously if it is a good thing. To even consider this is to be thought (at best) a Luddite, or at worst, simply deranged.

The even bigger question lies underneath, and is nefarious…

2. A very significant aspect of a character in scripture revealed in the book of Daniel explains that this person, so full of evil as to be understood as given over to Satan, desires to control the times.

Dan 7:25 NKJV – He shall speak [pompous] words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then [the saints] shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.

By changing times (and law/Torah), all things that rely on timing are redirected. Certainly, controlling the times makes one appear to be a God, and there is a clear desire for this in the passage. However, strategically speaking, redirecting anything associated with times results in anything related to timing to be missed or unfulfilled.

What if there are things that are tied to timing that ARE law/Torah? What if there are things that would direct our behaviors if they happened according to an expected time? What if we could expect Yahweh to be doing something at a specific time, and to prepare for it, yet not actually know what the time currently is?

It would be an effective strategy to derail a specific people if you could disconnect them from key events and timings commanded by their God to observe.

For incredibly intense, yet excellently presented breakdowns of “Hebraic” thought about understanding the Calendar, I recommend doing general searches on Google.

Michael Rood in conjunction with Nehemia Gordon has done a lot of work in determining calendars in modern time, and using technology to reverse calculate timing back throughout history. This has some radical ideas of specific days being targeted by Yahweh with critical actions that are very significant.

119 Ministries have done an in depth video series that will take a lot of time and patience to work through. It is best viewed after some basic research.