Having trouble reading this e-mail?
View this Mailing on the Web


First Covenant

Covenant Connection

For more comfortable reading, print me out as hard copy

Volume 1, Issue 6  
May 2006...........Iyar 5766

Counting 7 X 7 Days from Passover to Pentecost (Pesach to Shavuot), the Feast of Weeks
Sheaves of wheat by Van Gough

Counting the Omer - a sheaf of new barley (Exodus 23:16, Numbers 28:26) - until the anniversary of the Revelation of the Torah at Sinai.


Painting by Vincent Van Gogh


History Drove Me to Torah.


History drove me to Torah. I thought I didn't have a religious bone in my body. But I grew up reading compulsively and I liked learning about history. One encounters the Jews - just about 1/4 of 1% of the world's current population and always clearly one of "the fewest of all peoples" (Deuteronomy 7:7) - at almost every turn in history. After awhile, one begins to see principles and patterns emerge.

Here are three of them. They are, in no particular order:

First, quoting John Adams, America's second president, one of the founding fathers:

"The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations." (1809).

Second: the Jews are a nation only by virtue of the Torah (the "Teaching" or Guidance of Sinai)

Three (although this isn't an invariable rule in the life of every nation or human being but only a tendency, yet a remarkably clear and constant tendency): those who bless the Jews are themselves blessed; those who curse the Jews are themselves cursed (or, anyway, curse themselves).

Quoting from a book we llike, The Rainbow Covenant, pages 296 and 310:

This is a test for you. God can distinguish between those who love Him and those who hate Him by their attitude to Israel. (From the Bible, see, for example, Genesis 12:3, 27:29, Leviticus 20:26, Isaiah 42:6, 43:10, 54:17.)

One who hates the Jews will hate humanity. To respect the Jews, despite their flaws, is to respect humanity. To respect humanity, despite its flaws, is to show respect and love to God.(See, for example, Genesis 1:27, Leviticus 19:18, 19:34; Talmud, Shabbat 31a.)

Don't let the mere humanity of the Jews sour you on Israel or Torah.

"The Jews are the intensive form of any nationality whose language and customs they adopt."

"The Jews are just like other people, only more so."

[For more on this, on anti--Semitism, Torah and the Universal Law, and for the sources of the quotations above, go to The Rainbow Covenant.]

If, after looking at the history, one turns to the Torah with even a modicum of respect, one quickly sees the truth in the following:

*Deuteronomy 4:6 : For this is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations, who shall hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'

* Deuteronomy 4:8: And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments as righteous as this entire Torah, that I set before you today. . .

For me, finally, discovering the Universal Torah was the clincher. Once I recognized that the Torah provided clear, beautiful, perfectly logical guidance - or rather, Guidance with a capital g, to signify something more than merely human - not just for the Jews but for everybody, that was that.

In the next newsletter we plan to have an article answering the question, What happens when you die? What is the essence of a human being? It's in progress now but not quite ready for print. Until then, we want to leave you with at least a brief direct look at those who curse Israel - just a few tidbits of unfolding history:

Below are recent excerpts from the IRIS Blog. For the full stories and links to other articles as well please visit:


* Letters from a U.S. Jihadist *

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar wrote six letters to the Daily Tarheel, student newspaper of the University of North Carolina, where he tried to kill students for Allah by running them over in an SUV.

"Due to my religious motivation for the attack, I feel no remorse and am proud to have carried it out in service of and in obedience of Allah."

"Considering that I injured several people both physically and psychologically, who were also American taxpayers, I feel that I succeeded in obeying Allah's commandment to fight against the enemies of His followers."


From the archives of Memri, Middle East Media Research Institute:

Palestinian Arab Author and Syrian University Professor Praise Arab Mothers for Sacrificing their Sons.

Arab intellectuals Adnan Kanafani and Ibrahim Za'rour speaking regarding martyrdom, a discussion which aired on Syrian TV on May 6, 2005. Adnan Kanafani is a member of the Arab Writers Association and of the Association of the Palestinian Writers and Journalists' "Syria Branch," and is also a Story Society reporter. According to Arabic News, Ibrahim Za'rour is a Baa'thist and a university teacher.


Cleric cooly calling for martyrydom and cursing the Jews ("Jews = hypocrites").


May 19

Columbus, Ohio. Islamic Research Institute academic staff-member and Muslim leader says that the attacks of 9/11 were planned by Americans, who based it on the Denzil Washington movie The Siege. He also praises a leader of Al-Qaida as great and holy man.


Please treat this newsletter as a call to action. We call on God, as the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English:)



Noah and 9/11

Published: September 11, 2002

Over the past year several friends have remarked to me how much they still feel a pit in their stomachs from 9/11. One even said she felt as if this was the beginning of the end of the world. And no wonder. Those suicide hijackings were such an evil act that they shattered your faith in human beings and in the wall of civilization that was supposed to constrain the worst in human behavior. There is now a big jagged hole in that wall.

What to do? For guidance, I turned to one of my mentors, Rabbi Tzvi Marx, who teaches in the Netherlands. He offered me a biblical analogy. ''To some extent,'' said Tzvi, ''we feel after 9/11 like we have experienced the flood of Noah -- as if a flood has inundated our civilization and we are the survivors. What do we do the morning after?''

The story of Noah has a lot to offer. ''What was the first thing Noah did when the flood waters receded and he got off the ark?'' asked Tzvi. ''He planted a vine, made wine and got drunk.'' Noah's first response to the flood's devastation of humanity, and the challenge he now faced, was to numb himself to the world.

''But what was God's reaction to the flood?'' asked Tzvi. ''Just the opposite. God's reaction was to offer Noah a more detailed set of rules for mankind to live by -- rules which we now call the Noahite laws. His first rule was that life is precious, so man should not murder man.'' (These Noahite laws were later expanded to include prohibitions against idolatry, adultery, blasphemy and theft.)

It's interesting -- you would have thought that after wiping out humanity with a devastating flood, God's first post-flood act wouldn't have been to teach that all life is precious. But it was. Said Tzvi: ''It is as though God said, 'Now I understand what I'm up against with these humans. I need to set for them some very clear boundaries of behavior, with some very clear values and norms, that they can internalize.' ''

And that is where the analogy with today begins. After the deluge of 9/11 we have two choices: We can numb ourselves to the world, and plug our ears, or we can try to repair that jagged hole in the wall of civilization by insisting, more firmly and loudly than ever, on rules and norms -- both for ourselves and for others. ''God, after the flood, refused to let Noah and his offspring indulge themselves in escapism,'' said Tzvi, ''but he also refused to give them license to live without moral boundaries, just because humankind up to that point had failed.''

The same applies to us. Yes, we must kill the murderers of 9/11, but without becoming murderers and without simply indulging ourselves. We must defend ourselves -- without throwing out civil liberties at home, without barring every Muslim student from this country, without forgetting what a huge shadow a powerful America casts over the world and how it can leave people feeling powerless, and without telling the world we're going to do whatever we want because there has been a flood and now all bets are off.

Because imposing norms and rules on ourselves gives us the credibility to demand them from others.

It gives us the credibility to demand the rule of law, religious tolerance, consensual government, self-criticism, pluralism, women's rights and respect for the notion that my grievance, however deep, does not entitle me to do anything to anyone anywhere.

It gives us the credibility to say to the Muslim world: Where have you been since 9/11? Where are your voices of reason?You humbly open all your prayers in the name of a God of mercy and compassion.

But when members of your faith, acting in the name of Islam, murdered Americans or committed suicide against ''infidels,'' your press extolled them as martyrs and your spiritual leaders were largely silent. Other than a few ritual condemnations, they offered no outcry in their mosques; they drew no new moral red lines in their schools. That's a problem, because if there isn't a struggle within Islam -- over norms and values -- there is going to be a struggle between Islam and us.

In short, numbing ourselves to the post-9/11 realities will not work. Military operations, while necessary, are not sufficient. Building higher walls may feel comforting, but in today's interconnected world they're an illusion. Our only hope is that people will be restrained by internal walls -- norms and values. Visibly imposing them on ourselves, and loudly demanding them from others, is the only viable survival strategy for our shrinking planet.

Otherwise, start building an ark.



By Michael Dallen


God gave the Torah to the Jewish People so that all nations might benefit from it. – Midrash Tanchuma (ancient rabbinic commentary), Devarim 3


We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name. Amen.

Questions? Comments?

We want to hear from you:

info @ 1stcovenant. com

Visit our website: we're constantly adding new content: Multimedia

If you liked Rainbow Covenant: Torah and the Seven Universal Laws
Please let people who might read about it online
benefit from your insight: write a few lines about it 
on Amazon.com (just a few sentences will help)



Covenant Connection Archives


Find the latest and best edition of each Covenant Connection on the web

To learn more about us, or to join the First Covenant Foundation 
Click here: Community

www.1stcovenant.com      www.1stcovenant.org      www.rainbowcovenant.org


Please feel free to copy and reprint Covenant Connection or any part of it, but please include this sentence with the copyright information: 
© 2014 The First Covenant Foundation

The First Covenant Foundation is a U.S. IRS 501(C)(3) non-profit