Ut Unum Sint

“The Council, for its part, considered the Churches of the East with objectivity and deep affection, stressing their ecclesial nature and the real bonds of communion linking them with the Catholic Church. The Decree on Ecumenism points out: ‘Through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature’. It adds, as a consequence, that ‘although these Churches are separated from us, they possess true sacraments, above all—by apostolic succession—the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in a very close relationship.’” … Continue reading “Ut Unum Sint”

Martyrdom in Judaism: Part 2

ZS wrote this two-part overview of Jewish martyrdom in 2018. We post it now with consideration of those who joined the ranks of kedoshim on October 7, 2023. Click here to read Part 1. Rewards in Heaven Jewish traditions hold that martyrs gain access to haolam haba. In the Maccabean martyr story of the seven brothers and their mother, rather than eating swine’s flesh, the family was killed one by one. With his last breath, the second brother exclaimed to his persecutor, “You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us … Continue reading “Martyrdom in Judaism: Part 2”

Jewish Martyrdom: Part 1

Eleazar Avaran dies while killing Seleucid war elephant.

ZS wrote this two-part overview of Jewish martyrdom in 2018. We post it now with consideration of those who joined the ranks of kedoshim on October 7, 2023. The concept of martyrdom within Judaism wrestles with several issues. Martyrdom carries different functions within Judaism, often changing with historical context. Judaism tries to set clear determinations for situations in which a martyr’s death is preferred, although this tends to be a difficult task with gray areas. A martyr receives rewards in haolam haba (“the world to come,” or the afterlife). Unlike Christian martyrdom, Jewish halakhah arguably focuses more on the action … Continue reading “Jewish Martyrdom: Part 1”

Greed, Sloth, and Welfare

The Lone Tenement, painting by George Bellows

Welfare is a common controversial topic in the modern age. It’s noble to sympathize with the downtrodden, to accommodate those who cannot provide for themselves. Charity is a universally loved virtue for good reason: a voluntary act of benevolence warrants merit. Mandated charity (in this case, welfare), on the other hand, tends to discomfort the prudent of our generation. How effective are handouts? Can people be grateful for what they were entitled to receive? The argument is that unmitigated welfare doesn’t incentivize the recipient to improve their status, that they will forever cling to this benevolence, taking it for granted … Continue reading “Greed, Sloth, and Welfare”

Parashat Ki Tetzei

This is adapted from a drash Z. S. read last year at Devar Emet Messianic Congregation. A drash is a brief takeaway from the weekly cycle of texts. This Week’s Readings: Torah: Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-10 Brit Chadashah: Revelation 21:1-4 I recently spoke with a friend in Israel about some issues surrounding the aliyah process, and how terrible Israeli bureaucracy can get. My friend told me, “I think bureaucracy is a curse from G-d. It’s only because of our sins of lying and forging that we need bureaucracy.” I suppose my friend is right. I wouldn’t have to worry about authenticating documents … Continue reading “Parashat Ki Tetzei”

Screens and the Ego

Check out this book from a MW Author Jane-Marie Auret! I am a victim of my own lies, and the doctors didn’t stop me. I’m not the only one. I’ve seen my peers face suicide, overdose, transition, and live their social lives on screens. Gen Z suffers disintegration of the nuclear family, hypersexualization, and emasculation. We are lost. We float in the internet. Screens and the Ego intersperses true stories and fiction to meditate on our confusion. While we use the language of mental health to describe our personalities and our sadness, my Arab grandma still uses the language of … Continue reading “Screens and the Ego”

The Rains

Sous la pluie: La mère et les enfants by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

I want to share what happened to me a few weeks ago. Here in northern California, we’ve had an extremely wet winter; storms have been “on” more than they’ve been “off.” In an evening of respite, while expectant clouds painted the night sky, I visited the old town grocery store to fetch my daily bread. As I passed by, I noticed what appeared to be a homeless man shuffling through shopping carts by the entrance. If he was homeless, I mused, he might appreciate a meal. It was too late for the store to serve anything warm, so I fetched … Continue reading “The Rains”

Cross-Generational Relationships

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and … Continue reading “Cross-Generational Relationships”

Rules for Me, Not for Thee

The Bible talks a great deal about brothers and neighbors. We must love our neighbor as ourselves, reconcile with our brother before we present our offerings to God, and not bear false witness against our neighbor. I wish now to discuss protocol towards those who are not our brothers or neighbors. Just as the Good Samaritan was a neighbor, the Pharisee and Levite were not. The world is full of people who cannot care for us, for whom we cannot set aside time. More specifically, though, I’d like to check our stance towards unbelievers, predominantly through the lens of the … Continue reading “Rules for Me, Not for Thee”