There is a Jewish tradition of making a brakha (blessing) over the ritual fringes that are commanded in the Torah:
Call me old fashioned, but one thing that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside is when I actually see people in restaurants stop and “say grace” before they eat. It means that these people actually make it a point to stop and thank God for the food they are about to eat no matter who might be watching. I used to work with a Jehovah’s Witness guy who would hardly so much as look at his food before saying a silent prayer. My wife and I try to do so; usually being more successful in our home than when we’re out, but it’s something I’d definitely like to work on. Some questions some might have about this practice are:
1. Is “saying grace” found in the Bible?
2. What exactly is taking place while doing this?
I’ll attempt to answer these questions in one explanation that might wind back and forth a little.
While saying grace before a meal is nowhere to be found in the Bible, the concept definitely in the Torah. The only thing different about it is the order in which most do it.
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.
- 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
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:
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.
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
– 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?
It is common for people, especially Americans, to sell short the Oneness of our Creator. At face value, the concept doesn’t seem all that exciting. There is only one God; big whoop, right? It is with this grade-school mindset of God’s Oneness that I would like to tackle and dismantle this description of God that has most likely made you bored of this post already.