Stumped On Jewish Roots

“In this bright future, you can’t forget your past.” 
– Bob Marley

With the rise of technology that allows scientists to compare the DNA of different groups of people, many people have been on a mission to find out more and more about themselves based on their genetics. With the Jewish people, this has a certain spiritual significance as they try and reunite what has been dispersed since the Babylonian diaspora, the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, or even the Holocaust of World War II. Though many have been trying to trace their Jewish roots back to Europe or the Middle East, many Americans are starting their quest right in their own backyards by investigating the Native American tribes for which they are official members and the way of life of their not-so ancient ancestors. 

Not even taking DNA into consideration, archaeological evidence and traditions of these tribes has been pointing their origins back to a Hebrew religious tradition for generations. The famous historian of the 1700’s, James Adair, remarked in his book “Out of The Flame” of many similarities between the traditions of the Cherokees and the Hebrews including: 
  • Similar marital proceedings and laws against adultery
  • The worship of one god named “Ya’ho’wah” 
  • Laws pertaining to ritual purity
  • An East-facing temple that contained continually burning flame
  • Similar holidays, such as a day for the atonement of wrong doing and a week-long festival celebrating the harvest
  • A tradition of carrying a sacred ark into battle by a Cherokee holy man
Such archaeological evidence has also linked Hebrews from the time of King Solomon to the Americas. These findings have included various renderings of the 10 commandments inscribed into rocks and cave walls using an ancient paleo-Hebrew style of lettering. One of these such writings is in Los Lunas, New Mexico outside of a cave. 

Outside of the physical and historical evidence comes from DNA research of certain groups of people. Israeli scientists have conducted studies of a genetic trait occurring in a group of Native Americans in Colorado. This genetic mutation once only found to have impacted those descended from the Jews expelled from Spain over 600 years ago and an incremental percentage of Iraqi Jews has been found in this group of Native Americans. 

As a registered Cherokee and of Am Yisrael as well, I must admit that these findings are exciting in proving that the 12 Tribes of Israel were dispersed all over the world, just like the Hebrew Scriptures say; but other than being a piece of fascinating history, it doesn’t have immense spiritual weight for me. While it is true that I am only a documented 1/64th Cherokee, it goes beyond that. 

While I was in Israel, I was had the pleasure of spending much of my time with accomplished Torah scholars and very famous rabbis. Fascinated by my story of coming to Torah after being raised as a Christian Lutheran hundreds of miles from any Jewish community, many of them urged me to research my genealogy saying “Though you are are of gentile blood, you have a very Jewish heart. Research your family lineage and I bet you’ll find a Jewish root in there somewhere.” Three years later, I still haven’t and I don’t really feel the need to. I’ll tell you why: 

Being Am Yisrael can a form of nationality, but I believe it begins in the heart. Ruth was not of Jewish blood, yet was born with a Hebrew soul. It wasn’t that she became Jewish just so she could remain close with her dead husband’s mother (which I do believe is the only story of an intermarried woman getting along with her Jewish mother-in-law), but because she felt that there was something greater in store for her besides just returning to Moab. By following after her heart, she is now esteemed as the most famous Jewish convert and the great-grandmother of King David. 

Feel free to research your family lineage, but don’t let that stand between you and a covenant with the God of Israel. While you might find Jewish roots in your family tree, the same could possibly be said this guy: 

– Ken

Just a Simple Hebrew Okie

As I try and help shed some light on the spiritual wisdom found in the Torah to the masses, I have a confession to make to all of you: I’m kind of an idiot. While I’ve studied Torah and have read multiple volumes of different holy books, much of my perspective comes from being a perpetual student who is constantly learning; but the more I learn, the more I find out how little I know.
Some of you might be disappointed to find out that I’m no Torah genius, but rather a simple Okie Hebrew who studies the Torah for the simple nuggets of wisdom and truth. Actually, if any of my Torah observance seems more rigid than the popular interpretation, it’s usually because of my own ignorance in the reason why certain mitzvot (commandments) exist. My aim is not to wow people with my intellect; a task which I think I would continually fail to be successful at performing. My aim is to be able to provide just a dash of peculiar perspective on the Hebrew Scriptures, those who have been inspired by them, and what relevance the Hebrew Scriptures have with our modern society.  
I find it’s important to celebrate how little I know and use it as a constant motivation to never stop learning. 
“When you’re through learning, you’re through.” 
– Will Rogers
World Famous Okie Philosopher
If you have any topics that you’d like to see discussed on this blog or that you’d like this simple Okie Hebrew to address, feel free to submit them to me and I’ll do my best to address them.

I Don't Eat Kosher. I Eat Food.

While I was in college, I held many part-time jobs that allowed me to come in contact with many people I normally would not have come in contact with. While I was working at a printer cartridge re-manufacturing store, around the same time I was really shifting away from Christian thought and more into a Hebraic perspective of the Scriptures, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation one day with a certain customer who really shined new light on eating kosher. Interestingly enough, this man was a Christian. By Christian, I mean he probably believed that his salvation came from Jesus, but other than that, I bet this guy had been kicked out of a couple churches just by the way he spoke. 

At this point in my conversion, I did not consider myself B’nai Yisrael, but rather since I kept many of the tenants of the Torah, I considered myself a “weird Christian.” That was the best way I knew how to explain it to anyone who asked by I was wearing blue-accented fringes and didn’t cut my beard. 

I think the customer was waiting on some of his printer cartridges to be refilled and he asked me about my fringes and beard. I explained to him where I was, spiritually, and didn’t really know what to expect in reply. He gave me an approving “hmmp” with “will ya look at that?” happy frown and raised slightly surprised raised eyebrows. 

“Well, ya know, Jesus kept kosher. So did all the disciples; even after Jesus’ resurrection. No, I betcha money even Paul never touched a ham sandwich. The Bible plainly says eating certain things is forbidden and there’s no getting around it.”

His reply surprised me. All the other Christians I knew had quoted the classic “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?” line from Matthew 17; which goes on to say “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” as well as “…to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” What most Christians will claim is Jesus’ way of abolishing the laws of eating kosher in the Torah (which doesn’t make sense because the rest of the Bible says that if anyone comes claiming to be Messiah, but teaches against the Torah, cannot not possibly Messiah) is actually a teaching against speaking evil and also enforcing man-made laws as though they are in the Torah. Though washing one’s hands before eating might be a good idea, the command to wash one’s hands before eating bread isn’t found anywhere in the Torah. 

The customer didn’t quote that famous Matthew 17 verse, instead he started to speak about Torah by quoting verses from Leviticus 11. According to the Torah, Israel is forbidden to eat: 
  • Mammals that don’t both have a cloven hoof AND chew their cud 
  • Fish that don’t have both scales and fins 
  • Birds of prey
  • Winged insects that go on all four besides those that have jointed legs above the feet for hopping
  • Any reptiles or amphibians 
  • Pretty much any animals that eat other animals
This man did not bring the usual argument about these creatures being disgusting or cursed or anything. He made it even more simple than that:

“These animals were not designed to be food. Animals that die in the wilderness are eaten by scavengers; wild pigs, vultures, wolves, some tinier than you can see, and the like. When fish die, they fall to the lake bottom or ocean floor and are eaten by bottom-feeders like crabs, lobsters, and catfish. You wouldn’t try and eat the garbage truck, would you? I wouldn’t eat these creatures any sooner than I’d eat my own shoe. It’s not because I consider my shoe to be cursed, but simply because I need my shoe. God designed these creatures to take care of the earth by keeping it clean.” 

It was very bizarre that this Christian was bringing a very Jewish perspective to eating clean foods, but he was absolutely right. These animals are not necessarily non-kosher food, but they simply weren’t meant to be food anymore than my shoe is meant to be food. 

When I look at a big piece of ham, I don’t really think “Oh, disgusting! That’s sick!” After my chat with that guy one day at work, I see a big sizzling sneaker on a plate and that bacon hidden in the salad is more like little pieces of rubber. 

So, I’m not really against eating non-kosher, but more about eating what the Torah considers to be food.  

"I'm Shutting Down Applebee's, So Don't Be A Dingus."

If you were to ask someone who doesn’t keep Shabbat when Shabbat starts, even if they were knowledgeable of other cultures, they’d probably tell you that it starts Friday night at sundown. While this seems fairly feasible, if you were to ask someone who keeps Shabbat when Shabbat starts for them, they’d probably tell you that it starts Friday afternoon, Friday morning, or even possibly Thursday or Wednesday. I know it sounds really odd, but Shabbat wouldn’t be Shabbat without being prepared. In order to properly prepare for Shabbat, the Torah commands preparedness: 

והיה ביום הששי והכינו את אשר־יביאו והיה משנה על אשר־ילקטו יום ׀ יום
“On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in , it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” – Exodus 16:5

After God have Israelites the Sabbath and then was nice enough to give the manna in the desert, He didn’t necessarily have to say “Oh, and by the way, I’m locking up Hardees this Saturday so please don’t be a dill weed and try to hit it up. Make a run to the Manna Grocery Store and load up before the sun goes down Friday night.” But guess what? To ensure that we couldn’t screw it up, He did anyways. We should feel blessed to have a God that puts up with us; even when we’re complete morons.

Everything God teaches His people goes beyond the immediate understanding and applies to numerous aspects of life. As God had Israel prepare for Shabbat, for the High Holy Days, and as they approach Him in prayer and worship, we are also taught to prepare ourselves for whatever life has in store for us.

– Ken

Gay Marriage: Chill Out, People

Ok, this is my chance to be political and religious without being political or religious. I hope you enjoy.

Right now, the Christian right is claiming that the institution of marriage is under attack through many state’s attempts to legalize same-sex marriage. They are claiming that homosexuals should not be able to be married because it is a perversion and goes against the will of Almighty God. 

To that, I only have this to say: WELCOME TO AMERICA!

Being a religious person who devoted to the Torah, many people expect that I will simply come down on the side of the religious wing nuts and scream against same-sex marriage; that homosexuality is what is killing this Christian nation. 

Well, I got news for you; I ain’t no Christian. 

The Torah was given as a guide to Israel on how to serve God and how to get along with your fellow man. I do not believe that the Bible was intended as a means of cramming the will of God down the throats of every person that crosses your path. It was given to those who are in covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If someone doesn’t want to be in covenant with that God, I have no problem with that. That is their path and I believe people should have the right to do whatever they feel as long as aren’t bringing harm to anyone else or bringing injustice into the world.  

Why people have decided that a piece of government legislation that doesn’t even have anything to do with them is worth fighting against is beyond me. Two guys getting married or two women getting married is not going to change my relationship with the Creator. Why should people let it change their’s? Marriage has not always been a legal issue in the United States and I don’t think it should be any longer. I am a supporter of zero legally recognized marriages and anyone who wants to be legally bound to another for whatever reason should be able to be without the title of “married” on any government paper work. If you want to be married, that should be between you and God and not you and the government.

Now, I’m not wanting to bash Christians. I have many God-fearing Christian friends who feel the same way I do about the whole gay marriage topic. However, for those who feel the need to go out of their way to bark in everyone’s face about how homosexuality is an abomination, need I remind them that the same book of the Bible that says homosexuality is an abomination also says the same about eating shrimp and lobster. So, unless you’re eating kosher, please do us all a favor and shut up. To join this particular fight, check out for more info. 

Do not be mistaken; I am not pro same-sex marriage and would not attend a gay wedding if I were invited because it goes my personal spiritual legislation – the Torah. However, I would not protest one if it were to take place. 

– Ken

I Couldn't Care Less, But You Couldn't Tell More

A day in the life of a marketing content writer can be very fun and entertaining, but there are other days when this is not as much the case. Though I greatly enjoy writing about companies with products or services of which I’m personally excited or that are even close to my heart, for every one of those, there are at least five to ten customers with products or services that don’t really apply to me. While everyone has teeth, writing about the importance of flossing for a dentist’s blog isn’t really my idea of a thrilling experience. I get as annoyed as the next guy when a parking lot is torn up with line striping that is hard to see, but the prospect of writing compelling content about a parking lot seal coating and line striping company doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing. In order to combat this potential mental stagnation brought about by what can seem to be a drab writing assignment, there are a handful of helpful tactics I employ on a daily basis to ensure that each piece of content I write is as compelling as the last.

One of the first methods for generating compelling content on a subject that might not be very compelling to me is putting myself in the shoes of the person who started the company. In most instances, business owners are not greedy money grabbers, but instead, are people who feel very passionate about the products and services that their company provides. The reason that they are not writing marketing content themselves is because they are either too busy running a successful company or feel that they could benefit from the skills of a professional wordsmith to articulate what their company is all about to the public. In either case, I feel it is my personal responsibility to project the level of passion and enthusiasm that they would if they were the ones writing about their company. Writing about a company like it is my own company is one way I like to add the spunk and glow to the material and makes the content that much more compelling.

Being a simple guy, most of the research I do in order to write blogs or other content isn’t research I would normally do in my free time. Heck, sometimes the blog I’m writing isn’t even the blog I’d be interested in reading. How does someone who has little personal connection with the content write it for those who do? The answer is simple; get interested. Before writing these pieces, I like to stop for a moment and imagine a person Googling this subject in search of answers. Before they even hit the “enter” key, I try my hardest to become them. When I do this, new questions arise that I wouldn’t have thought to ask before and lead me down new paths that hadn’t previously existed in my mind. Suddenly I really am wondering if my dog has the symptoms associated with having fleas while back in the real world, I’m a cat person.

Though I walk in the door every morning as a writer for Quantus Creative, I take on many roles during the day. In the mornings, I could be a Persian rug dealer. Around lunch time, though I keep kosher, I could be looking for the best lobster in town. By the afternoon, I could be selling motorcycle accessories even though I’ve never so much as sat on a motorcycle. Closing in on quitting time, I could be on a hunt for the best Friday night drink specials though I’ll probably over at my in-laws’ around the Shabbat table. There’s no Ouji board in my desk drawer, but some days after work, my feet are certainly sore from writing in so many different people’s shoes all day long. There is no individual in the world that is genuinely interested in every subject under the sun so being a successful content writer in the marketing world requires a strong ability to play make-believe and pretend that you are. 

– Ken

"Saying You're Sorry" ≠ Repentance

It is my theory that the reason why Christians see observant Jews as being so diametrically opposed to them because of their commitment to the Torah is, for the most part, dependent on the translation of one word linked to a theological concept. 

This word/concept is: תשובה  – pronounced like “teshuvah.” 

In English Bibles, this term is typically translated as “repentance.” While the word in its entirety shows up very rarely in the Hebrew Bible, its shortened form (“shuv”) shows up fairly frequently. 

“אם־תשוב עדש־די תבנה תרחיק עולה מאהלך”
“If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents.” 
-Job 22:23

In Hebrew, the term simply means “to turn” or “return”. To Jews, this term doesn’t merely mean saying you’re sorry, but literally turning away from your sin, not doing it again, and returning to the ways of the Torah where you were before you slipped up. While righting wrongs between your fellow man is implied, from a Hebraic mindset, teshuvah/repentance can only be done when the sin is not continued.  All spiritual repentance of sin is typically used to express returning to the ways of the Torah. When one begins to move in the opposite direction, only then is repentance actually accepted by God. 

Teshuvah is a continual process that each person works on every single day; all day long. The more teshuvah takes place, the easier it is until the commands of Torah become habitual and a part of everyday life. It can be extremely difficult at first, but grows easier with time and practice.

As an experiment, let’s see how reinserting this Hebrew concept back into some New Testament passages would force change in the lives of some Christians: 

“Return to the Torah; the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
 – Matthew 3:2 

“So they (the disciples) went out and proclaimed that people should return to the Torah.” 
– Mark 6:12

“No, I tell you; but unless you return to the Torah, you will all likewise perish.” 
– Luke 13:2

“Return to the Torah therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” 
– Acts 3:19 

“Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of returning to the Torah to all the people of Israel.” 
– Acts 13:24

And this isn’t changing the meaning of the passage since the original meaning of “repent” in the spiritual sense was a returning to the Torah. Interesting perspective, ain’t it? 

– Ken