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Covenant Connection

Volume 1, Issue 9

August 2006.......Av 5766


Praying for Monotheism

Noahides or Just Monotheists? 

Rabbis and Non-Rabbis

End of Days


Readers Write:

Isaiah 53: "the Suffering Servant"

Biblical "Higher Criticism"

 Pure Prayers

Praying for Monotheism

Israel prays for gentiles to come to the realization that HaShem, the Lord, is God. Repeatedly and earnestly, several times each day, Israel calls on God to help gentiles recognize His greatness, holiness and oneness; to make them understand that there are no other gods, and that they therefore need to worship God alone. The question is, what happens when a gentile does so, when he or she accepts that? What's the next step?

Conversion to the religion of Israel - joining the Jewish people, becoming a Jew - is just one option. The Bible's Book of Ruth sets out the basic formula for conversion in the first chapter. Ruth, the Moabite convert-to-be, says to Naomi: 1) I will go wherever you go; 2) your people will be my people [I will share your people's destiny; I will leave the people of my current country and nativity and go with yours]; 3) your God [HaShem] will be my God.

Make HaShem your God. That's the only thing that's universal in that three-part formula. The earth's multitudes don't need to additionally declare, with Ruth, I will go wherever you go, Israel; I will leave my own people and join another people, yours.

All that Israel prays for is for gentiles or noahides to make God - that is, HaShem, the One God of Israel, the Lord God - their God.

Noahides or 
Just Monotheists? 

On a recent visit with Jack Saunders I met quite a few people who were doing just what Israel prays for, making God their God. I was delighted to see that they were using our book, The Rainbow Covenant, to help them in the effort. I didn't know what to call them. Noahides? Or simply monotheists?
They had a lot of questions. Hiram Vazquez-Rosa asked some remarkably good ones: see below. But the biggest question on almost everyone's mind was, basically, how should we as gentiles - as noahide or gentile monotheists - worship God?
    A wonderful young married lady asked me, as I was about to go to thank God with the blessings that Jewish people recite after eating a meal, should we be doing that? 
    Another lovely lady, driving us back after a Hebrew memorial service - Rabbi Hyman, may his memory be for blessing, the longtime rabbi of Beth Shalom synagogue in Chattanooga, had just died - asked, should we be doing that? When a close relative dies, should we do as you do - should we sit shiva, for instance? (Shiva is the week - always less than a full week - of mourning, when the mourners congregate and practice the customs pertaining to mourners.)
    An old acquaintance, a terrific fellow and longtime Noahide, asked, should we fast on tisha b'av? (Tisha b'av, the Ninth day of the month of Av, is Israel's national day of mourning.)
We had interesting discussions. Each time, I asked, what do you think? Each time, the response was, I think so. I said, I think you're right. Not that you should do exactly as Israel does, necessarily, but that you should learn from Israel's example - and then incorporate everything that seems to you to be proper and compelling into your own life, as well as your family's. 

Tisha b'av commemorates not just the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans but innumerable other catastrophes (unspeakable things, including mass murder, torture, and horrible destruction) that befell Israel. Not just Israel but anyone who cares about the cause of God in the world - that is, every true monotheist - should treat it as a day of mourning. (By the way, my Noahide friend mourned and fasted.)


God wants human beings to keep conscious of Him at all times and worship Him. He wants us to remember that He not only gave us our souls but will, in His time, take them back. Time flies: our sojourn as material beings on this earth is brief; we belong to God. So do our families - and it's up to us to try to teach that truth to them. Jew or gentile, He wants us all to recognize that He provides the food for every living creature, including ourselves. And that we, if only for our own good, need to thank Him for that.


Rabbis and non-rabbis

Gentiles who seek to connect with HaShem should understand that they don't need to do so through a rabbi: that the best teachers for b'nai no'ach are usually other b'nai no'ach - people who studied for years, not just with rabbis but from the pertinent texts, from Israel's actual practices, and from interchange with other other devoted monotheists, Jewish and Noahide. One should learn from people who have "been there," in other words. People who have read Rainbow Covenant have a leg up on those who haven't.
Gentile monotheists need to recognize the difference between gentile clergy and the rabbis of Israel. One can learn something from everyone who loves and keeps Torah. Not just ordained rabbis but every Jewish adult male is supposed to be a Torah scholar. People don't always need to sit at the feet of a clergyman to learn about God.
As a rule, observant Jews possess tremendous Torah knowledge. If they don't have the answer to a question about Torah, they normally can get it from someone who does - usually but not always a rabbi - with much less trouble than the Noahide who insists on learning only from rabbis. Every observant Hebrew man, woman and family has something to teach when it comes to God-consciousness. Every devoted long-time Noahide has something to teach others too.

End of Days

Noahide or gentile monotheism is something that Israel tends to classify as pertaining to the "end of days," in the words of the Book of Daniel. And the fact is that Israel just doesn't know all that much about the end of days.

When it comes to gentile monotheism we simply can't rely on the little that's said about the end of days in the Talmud, the Mishna and Gemara. We have Maimonides' insights in the last book of his authoritative Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim (Laws of [Future] Kings), but one needs to look at the Tanach - the whole Bible - itself. That means not just the Torah but the Prophets and Writings too, and the great Jewish commentaries on these things - often including the midrashim - as well as books like Rainbow Covenant. One also needs to look at history (the religion of Israel is historical monotheism, not merely ethical monotheism). One also, absolutely, needs the blessing, habit, discipline and gift of logic, to put it all together.


Monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is only one God. Christianity's Unitarian movement claimed that it made the One God their God. That claim doesn't pan out. Unitarianism came at God proudly, not humbly: Unitarians didn't just reject Israel and Israel's role in God's Plan, they also rejected everything that Israel could have taught them about God. Their book was Christianity's New Testament: they had little time for Torah and even less interest in it. If follows, naturally, that their God wasn't HaShem but some other deity.
One speaks of Unitarianism in the past tense, incidentally, because it's just a shadow today of what it once was - and still seems to be shrinking fast.

Readers Write:

Hiram Vazquez-Rosa sent a letter asking Covenant Connection to respond to the common misconceptions of hundreds of millions of Christians and Muslims about the Bible's Book of Jeremiah, particularly passages 7:20-24 and 8:8, and Isaiah chapter 53, concerning Isaiah's "suffering servant." He also asked for a response to the charge by academia's  mainstream "biblical scholars" that the Torah is a fake. This charge is based on what's called Biblical "Higher Criticism," the "Documentary Hypothesis" dogma associated with Julius Wellhausen. We invite readers' comments on these subjects. 
Wherever national life no longer permeate and elevates the common people, they sink into the mire of sensuality, superstition, and animalism. - Bernhard Duhm, Commentary on Jeremiah, c. 1901

Walking through a Walmart recently, this quotation popped into my head as I glanced at my fellow shoppers - not all of them gaudily pierced, heavily tattooed, half-naked, come-hither provocative, grossly obese, sullen, stoned, slovenly, cud-chewing, or rocking obliviously to their own music. Regardless, if you consider the thought true or simply interesting, it demonstrates the principle that even a stopped clock is right twice a day: Dr. Bernhard Duhm and Julius Wellhausen were close friends. He and Dr. Wellhausen, both of them Protestants, both of them German university academics who made their living teaching about the Bible, helped create the Documentary Hypothesis.

The Documentary Hypothesis teaches that the Five Books of Moses weren't written by Moses or by any single author. Rather, it insists, it's just a combination of scraps of text from different eras, roughly edited and assembled by a series of great "redactors." This so-called hypothesis has now become rigid dogma and all but universally taken as true: one cannot get a university job in biblical studies unless one publicly accepts it.
Apparently, this is a dogma with inbuilt appeal not just to secular skeptics and atheists but to Christian scholars. It makes nothing of the Torah, reducing it to the level of a purely man-made document, no more authentic than Christianity's New Testament - and considerably less important. A small classic of a book by Rabbi Dr. Umberto Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch, makes short work of that hypothesis, though; as Rabbi J. H. Hertz did earlier in The Pentateuch and Haftorahs (the famous Hertz Chumash, published by Soncino) Rabbi Cassuto shows it to be false. Beyond the unitary nature of its text, Cassuto, like Hertz before him, also demonstrates the Torah's uniqueness. Short, incisive, logical and learned, we recommend Casutto's book: it's available for less than eleven dollars, including shipping, from Shalem Press. Call (877) 298-7300. (I ordered one copy and then ordered three more, sending one to Jack Saunders - since he never got the chance to read all the way through my copy.) 
As for Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant, we recently visited a website - one of many - which speaks of it.  This site is publicly devoted to determining, in a supposedly rigorous, logical sort of way, whether chapter 53 speaks of Israel or Jesus. It's incredible: in all this tendentious "study," the writer never bothers to examine Isaiah chapter 53 in context - that is, in connection with chapters 49, 50, 51, 52 (except for one brief excerpt) or 54. See for yourself. This bizarre approach to the Bible's text is another fruit of the Documentary Hypothesis. The idea is that, since the Book of Isaiah is, like the Torah (supposedly), a patchwork, there is no consistent theme nor continuity and chapter-to-chapter context is irrelevant. "The Challenge of the Ages" by Frederick Alfred Aston.
Hiram and Jack spoke of the similarly far-out things that religious hacks - particularly, self-styled "defenders of Islam" - do with the teachings of Jeremiah. These false teachers try to turn Jeremiah into an enemy of Torah! They have him telling Israel, in passages 7:20-24 and 8:8, not to keep the Torah! Why would he do that? Because this dedicated man of Torah, in these few lines, "seems" (so they say) to call the Torah false!
Hiram wanted to know why Israel doesn't speak out more effectively against such shocking mistreatment of Israel's sacred heritage. Good question, Hiram!
A gentleman in Ohio asks for a liturgy - prayers - suited not just to Israel but to Noahides. Our response: there are holy prayers and beautiful, holy language in the Hebrew prayerbook, the siddur. Try to study them with a teacher who's intimately familiar with the siddur and the nature of Hebrew prayer. Get at least one siddur - more would be better, in order to see the different translations - and study it.

Pam Rogers and Nancy January have some early draft prayerbooks for b'nei no'ach too. They're not the greatest liturgical works and no one would call them well-polished. But at least their writers were trying very hard to get this right. They recognized its importance.

Learning how Israel prays helps people make their own prayers much better - however ad hoc or informal one's prayers may be now. Even some very learned Noahides down at Jack's were surprised at the power of the (translated) Hebrew prayers. People who aren't used to "formal" praying fall in love with the siddur because the material in it - which is incredibly rich, even in translation - can connect one to God. Israel's ancient prayers are powerful because they're pure. They can actually help one connect, directly and fairly comfortably, with God.

People need to get more God-conscious and more comfortable with the siddur. In the meantime, we have these proposed prayerbooks. The principal writers worked on them with rabbis - and the rabbis' contributions are interesting in themselves. These works could be useful to someone who wants to take the effort further. Contact either progers @1stcovenant.com or Nancy @rainbows-ink.com.)

You might also keep in mind that there is beautiful language in the gentiles' prayerbooks, hymnals and songbooks, too, which can be modified and purified. Gentile monotheists could use a pure liturgy, suitable for themselves and not primarily for Israel. Maybe this something to which you could contribute.

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

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