JUDAISM

Tisha B’Av — Israel’s Day of Tragedies

People often have days when nothing, absolutely nothing, goes right. The Jewish people have such a date, when so many tragedies occurred that they established a national day of sadness, fasting, mourning, and remembrance.

One Holiday, Two Birthdays

Thousands of Jewish people will make their traditional trek on foot to the Western Wall later in May to celebrate one of…

Zvi Mar/Apr 2004

Not long ago I received a nice visit in our home from four men who considered themselves extremely pious. They believed they were fighting for justice and righteousness; and wherever they went…

Never Forget

From Masada to YadVashem to Arlington National Cemetery is a long road indeed. But how much has really changed? Less than you would think.

Adonai

Joshua called Yahweh “Lord of all the earth.” The word Lord in Hebrew is Adonai. And it speaks of the absolute lordship of the God of the universe.

I Am That I Am

What is the Tetragrammaton? Ancient Jewish sages considered it too holy to utter. Yet it is God’s covenant name— and belongs to Him alone.

The Other
 Names of God

Biblical names are usually significant. Unlike the common practice today, ancient names were usually chosen for a specific reason. People were not as concerned with how a name sounded or what others thought…

Baruch Ha Shem

Elohim appears more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament. It is powerful, plural, and used by two divine personalities.

Zvi Jul/Aug 2003

The ninth day of the month of Av is drawing near (August 7). So the people of Israel come to the Western (Wailing) Wall, weeping night and day and reading the book of Lamentations, asking…

From Bill Sutter’s Desk May/Jun 2003

Many Jewish people assume that, as Bible-believing Christians, we direct our attention to the New Testament to the exclusion of the Old Testament. They are unaware that our keen interest in studying the Bible…

Jewish Music: Capturing the Heart of a People Conclusion

In Old Testament days, Jewish worship revolved first around the Tabernacle and later the Temple. Crucial to that worship was music, particularly the skill and purpose of
its presentation. In accordance with 2 Chronicles…

The Bible, Qur’an, and Hadith

The Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, contains 114 chapters, or surahs, that embody codes governing religious, civil, commercial, and military affairs. Since it was the first Arabic book of consequence, it has incalculable…

The Only Priest We Need

In days of old, the Jewish high priest ministered before the Lord. Learn what he did—and how Christ does so much more.

A Better Sacrifice, A Better Covenant

Learn the differences between the Levitical sacrifices and Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself while examining the covenants God made with Israel.

Blessings on Your Head

At the beginning of the movie Fiddler on the Roof, Jewish people in the little Russian village of Anatevka ask their rabbi if there is a special blessing for the czar. The czar ruled…

Akiva: Ascension to Prominence

Joseph Akiva is known by Jewish people around the world as the famous Rabbi Akiva. Though he lived from A.D. 50 to 135, he is deeply revered among Jews today for his amazing insights…

Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?

If I had been asked, “Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?” during my university years, I would not have hesitated a moment before answering, “Yes!” My formative years were spent surrounded by people whose perception…

A Day for Remembering Yom Hashoah

Some of the most disturbing words in all of Scripture are found in the book of Esther: There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom…

Pondering the Question of Evil

Why is there so much evil in the world? That question has challenged philosophers and scholars since time began. Spend just 30 minutes watching the national news—with its usual display of wars, man’s injustice…

When You’re Dead, You’re Dead!

A number of years ago, I attended the funeral of a dear Jewish friend named Max. I had met him through mutual friends shortly after his right side had become crippled by a stroke.

Camping Out Under the Stars

So you don’t like camping? You may change your mind after you get a glimpse of life in today’s sukkot.

Tabernacles in the Millennium

A day is coming when people of all nations will go up to Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles—and woe to them if they don’t go!

A Look at the Fall Festivals

Rosh Hashanah marks both the beginning of the Jewish high holidays and the civil year on the Jewish calendar. It’s a good time to wish your Jewish friends leshana tova (happy New Year)…

So, What Exactly is That?

Meeting new people is a regular part of my job. Usually it takes just a short time before I find myself asking the inevitable question, “What do you do?” Sometimes (not often, I hope)…

Chosen? for What?

Were you ever the first one onto the baseball diamond but the last to be chosen for a team? Or worse, maybe you were never chosen at all? Maybe, though, you were the best player…

God’s Love for Israel

Hosea 11:1-12: Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate, once wrote, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, nor is there anything you can do to make God love you…

Aliyah for the People of the Book

The People of the Book.” Whom do you think of when you hear that phrase, which so clearly distinguishes a specific people? Which people and what book? The people are the Chosen People, the Israelites…

Jesus the Son of God

Do Christians read more into the words Son of God than the Bible intends? Examine the origin of the title and how it applies to Jesus.

Zvi Jan/Feb 2001

We have a saying in Israel: Curses, like chickens, come home to roost. But a curse cannot rest where a blessing has been pronounced. Many rabbis today are making new laws, and they claim these…

Zvi Aug/Sep 2000

The days are fast approaching when Jewish people all over the world will come to the synagogues for the holy day of Yom Kippur. Before this great Day of Atonement, many Orthodox people cluster around…

Zvi Jun/Jul 2000

Here in Israel, there is a new surprise every day. But never was I as surprised as I was recently when I took my wife to the hospital on the bus—and I have lived here…

God’s Heart for Israel Romans 9-11

God chose Israel thousands of years ago. Has He stuck with her? This article examines Romans 9, 10, and 11 in light of the sovereignty of God.

Zvi Apr/May 2000

Here in Israel, many people believe that if they perform good deeds (mitzvot), heaven will be opened to them. They say that repentance and good deeds will shield them from retribution.

Zvi Feb/Mar 2000

Every day we see the Orthodox distributing leaflets on the street. They are free to do this, not like us. We must have eyes in the back of our heads to stay out of trouble.

“I Was Born a Jew, and I Will Die a Jew.”

There are many religions in the world. While some seem to overlap and even share common beliefs and practices, most have distinctive characteristics that mark them out or set them apart. Many have unique, identifiable practices, including…

Conservative Judaism

The Jewish expression “Eat kosher but think trayf [non-kosher]” encapsulates the ideology of one of the more popular branches of modern American Judaism. An attempted medium between the traditional and liberal wings of Judaism…

Reform Judaism

A Christian woman was interested in the beliefs of Reform Judaism. She asked her Jewish friend what a Reform Jew believes. The friend responded, “Be a good spouse and parent, work hard, be honest…

Hasidic Judaism

Within the world of Orthodox Judaism there is a group of intensely religious Jews whose influence and significance far outweigh their number. Termed ultra-Orthodox by outsiders, they are more properly known as Hasidic Jews…

The Jewishness Of Jesus

I had never seen Michael, our Israeli guide, so excited. Our Institute of Biblical Studies group was touring the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, seeing the usual sights, when Michael motioned us to join him on the other side of the church. He led us down a corridor into a small chapel. Michael explained in hushed tones that this was a very ancient part of the church, and tourist groups usually do not get to see it.

Jesus in the Rabbinical Literature

It is easy to determine the Jewish opinion of Jesus during His earthly ministry by reading the Gospel accounts. In simple terms, the common people, even if they did not accept His Messianic claims, generally…

Jesus in Josephus

Flavius Josephus was a Jerusalemite priest who lived in the last half of the first century. He also was the commander of the Jewish forces in Galilee during the war with Rome from AD 66–70.

Jesus in Modern Judaism

The name Jesus means different things to different people. To some, He is a great prophet, teacher, or leader, but others use His name as a curse. While some have never heard His name…

Rambam and Rashi: Bringing the Bottom Line

Separated by time (about 100 years) and distance (several hundred miles), two men provided the means for the Jewish people to study both the Talmud and the Bible. These “helps” are still used today…

Messianic Trends in Israel

In his essay, “The Messianic Idea in Israel,” the renowned scholar, Gershom Scholem, contrasted the Jewish and Christian concepts of the Messianic redemption. While Christianity conceives of redemption as an event in the spiritual…

Hillel: The Kind Pharisee

Jewish tradition states that the oral law was transmitted from Moses to Joshua, from Joshua to the elders, from the elders to the prophets, and from the prophets to the men of the great assembly.

The Talmud

“No! No! No!” the grandmother screamed as the six-year-old boy placed the clean spoon into the drawer of clean utensils. “That spoon goes with the milchig [dairy].” The youngster should have known;

But I Say Unto You: Matthew 5:21–48

Swimming pools become graveyards for many young children each summer. To prevent these needless tragedies, some municipalities require fences around pool perimeters. Some pool owners take the additional safety measure of installing another barrier on…

Tenach, Torah, & Targum

The Torah is the foundation stone for the Jewish people. Inspired by God and written by Moses, it has been central to Jewish life since its inception.

The Messiah’s House Is Empty

In the village of Kfar Chabad, just off the highway linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, stands a large brownstone house. I wrote about it in this space shortly after its cornerstone was laid in 1992.

A Special Diet

Food, glorious food! We need it to survive. We eat it to celebrate almost any occasion. We offer it in hospitality or comfort. Socially, food somehow helps to build bridges for easier and better communication…

Dressed for Worship Part Two

As Tevya, the milkman in Sholem Aleichem’s story Fiddler on the Roof, considered various practices unique to his Judaism, he turned to the audience and asked, “Why do we do the things we do?”…

Dressed for Worship Part One: The Tallit

Who hasn’t had it happen—a missed appointment, that lack of association between a name and a face, the forgotten anniversary or birthday? Forgetfulness is a plague that knows no prejudice.

Death and Mourning

Chai is the Hebrew word for life. Jewish people frequently wear gold charms depicting this Hebrew character on chains around their necks, emphasizing the fact that life is Judaism’s most precious and cherished commodity.

Jesus Is Better Than Moses

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read your newspaper at night without the convenience of a light bulb? Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Yet this luxury is only 100 years old.

Jesus Is Better Than Melchizedek

“Now consider how great this man was … ” Such was the high opinion of the inspired penman regarding Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:4. The greatness of this unique individual is matched only by the mystery…

Shabbat

Holidays are commemorative days used by most people to participate in recreational activities, to travel, or just to relax. Conversely, holy days are special days set aside for worship.

Zvi Dec/Jan 1993/1994

My watch stopped running recently and had to be repaired. I took it to a watchmaker in the Ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem because they are very good at this trade.

A Little Sanctuary Ezekiel 11:16

As a youngster growing up, I can remember two synagogues in our neighborhood. Sitting high on a hill was an imposing, three-story brick building with beautiful white stone pillars in the front.

Beware of a False Alarm

Suddenly the alarm sounded! Judging from the teachers’ faces, this was no drill. All of the students filed out quickly and quietly, looking around for signs of trouble.

The Mosaic Covenant

The establishment of the Mosaic Covenant was an epic moment in the history of the nation of Israel. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai and announced that God would establish a covenant…

The Jewish Wedding

Marriage is regarded as one of the most important and significant decisions in the lives of Jewish people. The Torah (the five books of Moses) clearly states that God made “an help fit” for Adam…

Bar Mitzvah

On Saturday morning, June 11, 1966, I walked from the stage of the synagogue to the platform (bema) where the Torah lay open. Following in the tradition of my father and grandfather…

Brit Milah

The birth of a boy into a Jewish family is cause for great joy and celebration (simcha). On the eighth day after his birth, a ceremony takes place that unites him with all other Jewish…

Zvi Apr/May 1993

Recently I answered a knock at my door, and before me stood several young Hasidic boys who were students at a nearby yeshiva (ultra-Orthodox religious school). They looked rather ashamed of themselves, and I asked…

Ruth and Boaz: The Story of the Kinsman-Redeemer

The Jewish community has always looked upon marriage as a sacred and divine institution. It is viewed as a holy covenant between a man and a woman, a necessity for the divine plan to propagate…

Sonship Has Its Privileges Galatians 4:1–18

“Membership has its privileges” was a slogan popularized by a major American corporation a few years back. The meaning is self evident: Members of the group are accorded privileges not extended to others.

Confronting Church Compromise Galatians 2:11–21

Confronting a brother face to face concerning compromise is never easy or pleasant, especially if that brother is a co-worker, of sterling reputation and character, and a highly respected church leader.

The Schneerson Syndrome

Judging by the number of signs in Israel bearing the slogan “Prepare for the Coming of the Messiah,” one would be led to believe that the nation is gripped by Messianic fervor unparalled in modern…

Zvi Aug/Sep 1992

The Orthodox have many sayings, and by using them they can turn black into white and white into black. Of course, all of this is done in a nice way so that no one is…

Purim: No Minor Festival

An old Yiddish saying translated into English, says, “As a high temperature does not denote serious illness, neither is Purim a festival.” Its meaning reflects the impression among some that the Feast of Purim…

Passover

Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments, and enjoined upon us the mitzvah of kindling the Festival lights …

Be Ye Holy: The Feast of Unleavened Bread

Of all the feasts of Israel, none exemplifies the holy standard of living to which God calls us more than the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Instituted by God and given to the nation of Israel…

Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks

All of the festivals of Israel give great insight into the New Testament. Shavuot, or Pentecost, as most Christians know it, is no exception. Understanding the background and practice of this festival gives rich insight…

After a Half Century

On May 2, 1922—half a century ago—an 18-year old Jewish lad made his confession of faith in Jesus as Messiah and Savior in a small chapel in Warsaw, Poland, in the presence of an assembly…

Different Jews

These headlines pose quite a contrast. It is important to note that these two groups are the extremes statistically. Only a small percentage of Jews hold either view.* But they do reflect just how difficult…

Judaism in Crisis

“American Jewry is in the midst of a spiritual holocaust, one it has unleashed upon itself,” says syndicated columnist Sheldon Engelmayer. Engelmayer’s sentiment is being echoed by the Jewish religious community on many fronts these days.

Messianic Ideas and the Messiah

What did the Jewish people of Jesus’ day believe about the Messiah? What Messianic preconceptions greeted Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel?

Operation Solomon

Many questions have been asked recently about the Jewish people in Ethiopia and their immigration to Israel. These Ethiopian Jews are sometimes referred to as the Falashas. Who are they? How did they become Jewish?

Why Jewish People Don’t Accept the Gospel

Most Christians are aware that Jewish people do not accept the gospel. Some have learned that the methods of evangelism they use with Gentiles do not work when they talk to their Jewish friends about…

A Trumpet in Zion

Israel’s great fall feasts were celebrations that witnessed a pendulum swing of national emotions sweeping from trepidation to exhilaration. These spectacular festivals, around which all national life revolved, were seasons of intense personal interaction…

Israel’s Fall Feasts

Over the centuries, Israel’s national life has revolved around her great feasts. In the days of the Tabernacle and, later, The Temple, Abraham’s sons heeded the Lord’s call to assemble “before the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God…

Yom Kippur

It is the most awesome day of the Jewish year. Yom Kippur is the Hebrew phrase for the Day of Atonement. For more than 3,000 years, Jewish people have observed this annual day of solemn…

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Temple of God had been completed. More than 150,000 men had labored for seven years in the building of what became known as Solomon’s Temple. The finest wood, the purest gold and silver…

Simchat Torah: Celebrating the Bible

One of the happiest of all Jewish holidays is Simchat Torah (Rejoicing over the Law). Second only to Purim in hilarity, this delightful holiday has but one word to describe it—joy.

Abraham: “Blessings on You, My Friend!”

Blessing—what does the word mean? We use it so freely: “Bless you, my brother,” “Bless you, my sister,” and, when someone sneezes, “God bless you!” It is not uncommon to use phrases…

Tisha be-Av

Tisha be-Av, or the Ninth of Av (Av is the fifth month in the Jewish calendar, corresponding to July/August), not only commemorates specific tragedies in Jewish history; it also symbolizes all that has been dismal…

The Parting of the Ways

Although it has sometimes been overlooked, a straightforward reading of the Book of Acts reveals that Christianity began as a sect within the Jewish community. Jesus was born of a Jewish mother, was reared…

Abraham: The Man Blessed by God

A promise is only as good as the one who makes it. We have all had promises made to us that we knew would never be fulfilled. Conversely, other promises have been made…

The Shema: How Much of Me Does God Own?

Hear, O Israel: The Lᴏʀᴅ our God is one Lᴏʀᴅ: And thou shalt love the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

In Quest of the Holy Cow

It was the only sacrifice for which the animal had to be a special color. It was the only sacrifice that had to be performed outside the camp instead of on the altar.

The Majesty of Herod’s Temple

The Temple of Jesus’ time was built by Herod the Great. Appointed by the Romans, Herod was king of Judea from 37 to 4 B.C. He had the dubious reputation of being the most unpopular…

Joel of Jerusalem Jun/Jul 1990

The Lord Jesus said, “when they bring you unto the synagogues, … be not anxious how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in…