Parashat Vaera

This is adapted from a drash Z. S. will read this weekend at Devar Emet Messianic Congregation. A drash is a brief takeaway from the weekly cycle of texts. Torah: Exodus 6:2-9:35 Haftarah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21 Brit Chadashah: Revelation 15-16 Do you remember the early days of the Coronavirus? I remember studying Va’era last year, in late January, and thinking, “this virus in China might be kind of similar to the plagues we’re reading about.” Well, here we are, again reading the same parashah a year later with some hindsight. I hope this week’s parashah can give us some perspective on … Continue reading “Parashat Vaera”

Parashat Miketz

Joseph Dines with his Brothers by Yoram Raanan

This is adapted from a drash Z. S. will read this weekend at Devar Emet Messianic Congregation. A drash is a brief takeaway from the weekly cycle of texts, or the weekly the parashah. “G-d” is spelled with a dash out of respect for Jewish custom. Parashah Readings: Torah: Genesis 41:1-44:17 Haftarah (taken from the prophets): 1 Kings 3:24-28 Brit Chadashah (New Testament): Acts 7:54-60 “Sprezzatura,” “sangfroid,” “equanimity”: these are fancy words used to describe the ability of a courtier to remain casual and completely unphased by the petty worries and excitements of his peers. (A more familiar term might … Continue reading “Parashat Miketz”

Melchizedek in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Qumran_Cave_11_Entrance

In 1965, A. S. van der Woude published a scroll from Qumran named 11Q13. This scroll only came to us in fragments, so we do not know its full size or the main theme of the original manuscript. However, the second column of the scroll remains fairly readable, and I want to share some insights one might glean from the text. A character named “Melchizedek” figures prominently in the text of column two. This Melchizedek seems to play a priestly role: [Melchize]dek who will return them and will proclaim liberty to them to relieve them from […] all their iniquities… … Continue reading “Melchizedek in the Dead Sea Scrolls”

Obama, Trump, and Hayek’s Road to Serfdom

In the 2015-2016 Republican primary, Trump’s quick rise to the top surprised many who could not understand how a conservative could find a suitable leader in Trump. I was among those sorely disappointed with his nomination (I supported Cruz). Here I offer my explanation for his quick rise, an explanation that may trigger liberals and embarrass conservatives. One aspect of Trump’s rise that surprised pundits was his lack of credentials. He had no experience in politics or public administration. Yet his supporters felt he was highly qualified. Supporters kept saying “he’s a businessman,” and “he gets things done,” as if … Continue reading “Obama, Trump, and Hayek’s Road to Serfdom”

More on Words, Ecumenism, and Language

With deep regret, this article comes to you late, for which I apologize. Vlad and I recently resumed our discussion of words and the use of “ecumenism.” We both moderated our positions, and I want to present my position anew. I look forward to hearing Vlad’s take on my moderated position. First, on the matter of etymology, Vlad is correct that I brought this up in oral discussion. This occurred on a lakeside porch in a faraway country in the summer of 2018. I may have also brought up this point previously in an online discussion. In my article, I … Continue reading “More on Words, Ecumenism, and Language”

Church and State Part Four: The Reformation

This is the fourth and last installation of a series of articles in which I present my view of church history with a focus on the relationship between church and state. In my last article, I covered the middle ages. Today I cover the Reformation. Because excommunication was being used so much as a punishment inflicted by man rather than an edict given by God through man, the tide of Protestantism came about in the sixteenth century. The frustrations so many devout church members who disagreed with the corruption and abuse of the church—particularly from the papacy—fermented for many years … Continue reading “Church and State Part Four: The Reformation”

Church and State Part Three: Popes and Kings

Henry IV waiting outside the gates of Canossa Castle whilst ecclesiastical leaders jeer from inside the castle walls. Captions read "Henricus 4 Emperour Waiting 3 dayes upon Pope Gregory 7. Image of Antichrist." Woodcut from Acts and Monuments (1570)

This is the third installation in a series of articles in which I present my view of church history with a focus on the relationship between church and state. In my last article, I covered the caesaropapism. Today I cover the middle ages, the Holy Roman Empire, and the papacy. In my next and last installation, I will cover the reformation. By no means does this series provide a comprehensive history. This article covering the middle ages does not even mention Charlemagne, Pepin’s reforms, Wycliffe, or the Hussites. Rather, I have chosen to focus on a small number of events … Continue reading “Church and State Part Three: Popes and Kings”

Church and State Part Two: Caesaropapism

This is the second installation in a series of articles in which I present my view of church history with a focus on the relationship between church and state. In my last article, I covered the early church. Today I cover Constantine and caesaropapism. In the next installation, I will cover conflicts between monarchs and popes of the middle ages. As soon as the church gained a foothold into the government through Constantine, its dynamic with the state became much more complicated. While a government could be opposed to the church, the church could still have an important and necessary … Continue reading “Church and State Part Two: Caesaropapism”

Church and State Part One: The Early Church

This is the first installation in a series of articles in which I present my view of church history with a focus on the relationship between church and state. Today I cover the history of the early church. In the next installation, I will cover Constantine and caesaropapism. Struggles between state and religion, papacy and monarchy, have long captured the attention of historians. Whether examining the Torah’s laws for separation between holy and unholy, Roman persecution of the early church, the Inquisition, or Roger Williams’ fight for separation of church and state, it becomes apparent that only a thin line … Continue reading “Church and State Part One: The Early Church”

Film Review: Onward by Pixar

Onward: Ian and Barley

With everyone cooped up at home, viewership on streaming services has predictably surged. My Mom and I recently finished Season 3 of Fauda (I highly recommend the series!), but today I want to review a kid-friendly film. Onward, Pixar’s latest release, is available on Disney Plus. Onward is worth a watch, as are all of Pixar’s films (except for Cars 2 and Cars 3). Even so, Onward is a bit of a let down, given Pixar’s high standards. Onward has all the necessary ingredients for a good film. There’s an attractive setting: a modernized suburban fantasyland. The story, about two … Continue reading “Film Review: Onward by Pixar”