In the time of Jesus, by rabbinic ruling, the giving of alms, or charity, was an acceptable substitute for sacrificial offerings. Jesus seems to have preferred the giving of alms. The story of the widow who put two small copper coins into the temple treasury (Luke 21:1-4) may be an example of someone who brought an offering of alms to the Temple rather than an animal sacrifice. The widow was very poor and could not afford to purchase an animal, or even small birds, to be sacrificed.
April here in Israel was a month of mixed emotions, a mixture of joy and sorrow. There were two major commemorations: Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 19) and Memorial Day (April 25); and two major joyous celebrations: Pesach, or Passover (April 8-14), and Independence Day (April 26).
A visitor to Israel last night might have been puzzled by seeing the streets heavy with traffic, especially since it was already one o’clock in the morning. The reason was that last night was the first night of the annual week-long Passover festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt thousands of years ago, and people were returning home after taking part in a Passover Seder (the ceremonial meal on the first night of Passover).
I applaud efforts to shake us from our stereotypes of Jesus. The attempt to reconstruct Jesus’ skin color and facial features is positive and laudable. However, I have strong doubts about the suggestion that Jesus collaborated with Judas to bring about his arrest and resultant death.
Those of us who live in the Middle East often find ourselves in the middle of the conflicts that arise here. I recently attended a conference of Christian Jewish and Arab women held in Jerusalem. The conference was organized by Musalaha, a ministry of reconciliation directed by Salim Munayer.
A few years ago when we were in California for one of David’s seminars, many of my local friends were shocked when I told them I’d ridden the RTD (Rapid Transit District) into Los Angeles. They considered it dangerous to ride the RTD. I hadn’t been at all worried because I take Egged.
The Jericho Road is no more than a thirty-minute drive from where we live. Yet the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) can be as distant as the period of time in which it happened. Such a dramatic experience—passing up someone in dire need—would never happen to us! But how about someone who is not in such dire need? Let’s consider someone who needs just a little help.
The importance of sharing one’s bread with the poor has remained in the Jewish consciousness until today. Many people do not want to throw away bread. Instead of dumping their bread along with the rest of their garbage into the garbage carts parked along the streets, they save the bread in plastic sacks and hang it from the metal projections on the sides of the carts (used to hoist the carts into the garbage trucks). That way, the bread is potentially available to the poor.
I feel I deserve a reward after agonizing in the dentist’s chair, so I arrange to meet my friend Ragna, to celebrate her birthday with a cup of tea. Anyway, it has been ages since I’ve been to the midrahov, the pedestrian mall on Ben Yehudah Street in downtown Jerusalem, with its outdoor cafes and restaurants.
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah (literally, “the head of the year”), is the first of three major biblical holidays that are rapidly approaching. This year Rosh Hashanah falls on September 11; Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on September 20; and Sukkot, the week-long Feast of Tabernacles, is from the 25th of September to the 1st of October.
When I came to Israel in 1963 to begin graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dr. Lindsey was 45 years old. He and his family had moved recently from Tiberias to Jerusalem. It had been in Tiberias, beside the Sea of Galilee, just 18 months before, that he had stumbled upon the key to the synoptic problem’s solution: Luke’s Gospel was written before Mark’s.
Safrai has produced a detailed description of the Hasidim, and identified from among rabbinic literary works those that originated in Hasidic circles. His research enabled him gradually to sketch a composite portrait of the Hasidim. When he was finished, he discovered that this portrait was very much like the portrait of Jesus in the Gospels.
There are many unique proposals in this book which deserve serious consideration.