Jack E. Saunders
These are one creed's core teachings:
The First Covenant creed, on the other hand, also asserts that Santa isn’t real, that magic isn’t real, etc. But it stresses and asserts that God, HaShem, is the ultimate reality, and that the life we know is not all there is.
Our creed, or school of thought, goes back to the First Covenant and the beginnings of human history. It has helped shape men’s minds in striking ways throughout history. Indeed, by freeing human minds and souls from crippling nonsense, it helped make the first school possible.
Our school teaches students to relate to God thus:
“We bend our knees, bow, and acknowledge our thanks before the King Who reigns over kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.
“He stretches out the heaven and establishes Earth’s foundation, the seat of His homage is in the heavens above and His powerful Presence is in the loftiest heights. He is our God and there is no other.”
[This prayer, or teaching, comes from the first half of the ancient recital called “Aleinu” – a word literally meaning “It is our duty (… to praise the Master of all.”) After Kaddish (“Magnified and sanctified be His great Name…”) Aleinu is Jewish-liturgy’s most frequently recited prayer.]
Jack Saunders was an Aleinu man. He wasn’t primarily a God-fearing man – “fear” sounds so negative, yet, as Jack taught, one should, naturally, fear acting in any way displeasing to God - so much as he was a man who loved God.
Our beloved Jack died, since our last issue. He was sick for a long time. Still, while it seemed to be a release for him it was a very big blow to us.
We'll have more to say about him. But now the sabbath – Shabbos, or Shabbot, in the Israeli pronunciation – and the great holiday of Shavuos (or Shavuot) are coming on us like a speeding train.
Shavuos, which literally means “weeks,” is also known as Pentecost, since it marks 50 days (Greek: “pentekostos,” meaning 50) from the second night of Passover, or Pesach. After the Hebrew People left Egypt in the Exodus, Moses our teacher taught people to count out seven weeks, after which we come to the precise anniversary of the Revelation of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.
Freedom without law is a dubious gift. HaShem freed the people and then reaffirmed the Noahide Law at Marah, soon after He “split” the sea in the Exodus. Then, at Sinai He, turned Israel into a uniquely holy nation as His covenanted special witnesses to His nature and existence and as living messengers of Torah.
Shavuous comes, in astrology-speak, in the month of the twins, or Gemini.
Incidentally, it's worth noting that the anniversary of Passover comes in the month of the ram, or Aries. Which helps explain the command to Israel, just prior to the Exodus, to take a living sheep and slaughter, cook and roast it “in the sight,” as it were, of the Egyptians. (It must have seemed to the Egyptians that the Jews were devouring the god they feared and adored, right at the peak of its power.)
The Rabbis ask, why did HaShem reveal the Torah in the wilderness? They answer, the wilderness didn’t belong to any nation. It belongs to the world. Why did He reveal the Torah in the month of Gemini? They answer, the Revelation of the Torah came in the month of the twins to signify that its holy wisdom doesn’t just belong to Israel: it’s both Israel’s and the world’s.
That’s precisely how our dear Jack regarded it. He lived his life knowing that the King of the Universe meant the Torah and all the Scripture, and the wisdom of the so-called Oral Torah, for him.
A tribute to Jack is running on our website on the page “About Us,” including pictures and short snippets about our foundation’s directors. It's on Facebook in our three special pages: First Covenant Foundation, Rainbow Covenant, and 1st Covenant. But this needs saying here:
Jack Saunders, 1948-2015 (he would have been 71 in August), died on the morning of May 21, 2019 - the 15th of Iyar, 5779.
Rev. Jack Saunders and Michael Dallen first met in Athens, Tennessee on January 15, 1992. They've been close friends ever since. They learned with each other and taught each other and worked with each other, closely, for 25 years, until his health problems intruded.
Rev. Saunders was a working Baptist pastor when he began studying Torah. Studying Scripture as a Christian, but earnestly seeking truth, He discovered that He was a living fulfillment of the prophetic Scripture that men "from all ends of the earth shall say, surely, our fathers have inherited lies." (Jeremiah 16:19).
And Jack became a conscious servant of HaShem - God. He was a devout, passionate student of Torah and, particularly, black-letter Scripture, Torah, Prophets and Writings. He delved deep into the Oral Torah - Michael Dallen would often call him for help with references from the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrashim He helped write "Rainbow Covenant."
Jack E. Saunders lived and died a God-conscious, God-loving Noahide, a scholar, and a true man of God. With his loving wife, Joan, he arranged his own burial - in a plain wood casket, the same day he died. He cheerfully anticipated getting all his many questions answered - by Moses himself, if possible.
As for us, his survivors and long-time Torah-study partners, we all hope to study with Jack in the world to come.
By Michael Dallen
Some photos, below. These won't show up in email, alas. You can see them by going to the website and this issue. Click Here on the link to see them online.
Jack and Joan
Jack with his favorite book
Jack in his library, not that long ago
Closing now, quoting Aleinu:
“… To You every knee should bend, every tongue should swear. Before You, HaShem our God, they will bend every knee and cast themselves down, and to the glory of Your Name they will render homage….”