Friday, July 22, 2011

Forbidden Food

Karaite Comments: To My Brother Yeshua (Jesus) Part 10

As I mentioned in Part 9, I would use the scientific discoveries of today to focus on laws handed down over 3200 years ago. But first it is imperative that those of the Messianic or the Christian path understand exactly how your falling away from the Lord’s commandments occurred. To do so you have to appreciate that the first Christians were Jews and that they continued in their worship at the Temple and their obedience to Jewish Law. At the same time they were able to reconcile their following of Yeshua’s teachings by referring to him as the greatest of the prophets a point of difference between them and both Karaites and Rabbanites. But soon a division was to take place as the result of one man; a man that Jesus never even selected as one of his apostles. As described in Galatians II:7 the main body of Christians were circumcised Jews and that the Gospel of the circumcised was unto Peter. But there was another group rapidly developing and Paul wrote in the same Galatians II:7 that “The gospel of the uncircumcised was committed unto me.” A self appointed commission to the Gentiles that would ultimately be a slap in the face of God. Paul reveals that Peter came to Antioch where Paul had his base and under pressure Paul convinced him to eat with the Gentiles. But when a delegation came from Jerusalem to berate Peter for his abandonment of the commandments, he quickly separated himself from the Gentiles and then insisted that they should all “live as Jews do.” Paul was furious and he went after Peter with all the ferocity he could muster as revealed in Galatians II:11. Of course having a large threatening Gentile mob in your face could be enough to convince the weak and indecisive fisherman that he was backing the wrong horse. Paul then went to Jerusalem along with Barnabas and after similarly threatening the apostles and elders he not only convinced them that the dietary laws and circumcision were not required but as he states, “they no longer needed to keep the Law!” The only restriction was they abstain from eating meats offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled and from fornication.” But we have historical proof that the community that was originally Jewish never abandoned the original Torah laws and remained as a separate entity within Christianity. Though Paul was able to intimidate them into fearing his wrath of the Gentile mob, he could not sway them from the teachings of Jesus and his brother James. For those wishing to know more about these original Christians and their preservation of Jewish ways, I suggest you read about the Ebionites. They existed for another 400 years before they were hunted down and killed by the Church of Rome.

There Are No Coincidences

Now you might ask, “What provides me with the authority or knowledge to talk of such things as if I understand the intricacies of God’s commandments. Just what are my qualifications to make the following statements?” Fair enough, legitimate questions but of course I have legitimate answers as well. Firstly, let me say that I am doing exactly what my family has been instructed to do for the past three millennia, fulfilling the role of Kahana as intermediaries with the purpose of saving mankind even if it is only one human life at a time. Secondly, for those that may have wondered what I actually do (my everyday job so to speak) since whatever my role in life it’s obvious that it’s now taking me to China on a monthly basis, has me speaking internationally at biotechnological conferences, and sees me supporting scientific breakthroughs that eliminate suffering for thousands, perhaps even millions. So let me elaborate for you and then you can judge the veracity and credibility of the statements I will make subsequently. I am a veterinary trained preclinical toxicologist, a test development medical technologist and a biotechnological researcher. Yes, I have university degrees in each of those three areas of specialization. Big words but then it’s a big job. I am one of those men that each day faces the challenge of how do we find the cures and prove that they work against X, Y or Z. And as I mentioned, it is simply the extension of what we as the Kahana have done for a thousand years both in the Tabernacle and the Temples while they still stood. Of course then it was much simpler, as all we had to do in those days was make animal sacrifices on the altar and pray for cures and divine intercession. And we only had to face the Big Boss in the Holy of Holies for our performance review once a year. Now the job is a little more demanding since in the past my family prayed that God would intervene on behalf of the people but now the onus has become for us to provide the answers on our own. It is no mere coincidence that there are three family members involved in a similar line of scientific endeavor even though we were initially unaware of each other’s professional choices at the time. One might say it’s in our genes, and a more lengthy aspect of that particular discussion can be found at but as you will see, it is highly likely that we are products of our past and we are all predestined to do what we do. So, having the benefit of several decades of medical and veterinary specialization has provided me with a perspective that Isaac ben Abraham of Troki did not possess. It enables me to examine the dietary laws and find a rationale behind their instruction. But what it really does is leave me in awe because I have to consider that three thousand years ago these laws were clearly established with an impossible precognizant foresight and knowledge of discoveries that we have only made over the last 150 years. And that too cannot be simply passed off as another coincidence. Remember, I’ve been telling you for a long time that there are no coincidences!

The Eating of Dead Things

Over a decade ago I wrote my thesis on the Apolipoprotein E pathway’s involvement in both CJD and Alzheimer’s. Without going into the details, I was looking at ways in which abnormal proteins were absorbed, transferred and reproduced in neurological tissues to the detriment of the host. The key appeared to be Apolipoprotein E and the production of Tau proteins. What does this have to do with dietary laws you might ask, well let me explain. One of the undiscovered routes I proposed was Vagal nerve (10th Cranial Nerve) transference; a conduit directly from the stomach to the central nervous system. It was one of the only ways to explain the rapid transposition of an ingested abnormal protein to the brain (neurocellular phagocytosis) resulting in diseases we refer to as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. You would call one of these diseases Mad Cow. The story behind prion diseases is an exciting one. When Prusiner first proposed its existence he was laughed off the stage. Science refused to believe that abnormal proteins once ingested would cause a disease. Twenty years later it was a fact and more alarming would appear to be the reason that cattle had suddenly developed the disease because they were being fed rendered protein. Essentially herbivores were being turned into carnivores. Cattle were being fed byproducts that were remnants of dead animals. Let’s first think of the prohibition of contact and consumption of dead animals in Leviticus. If the animal is found dead, even if it was one of the approved animals for consumption, we would never be certain of what it had died from. Though not necessarily a prion disease, it was a forewarning that the byproducts of dead animals could still transfer disease, a finding that most certainly shocked the world in the 1980’s and still presents a major threat. Studies in a Wisconsin game park where there was an outbreak of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) in mule deer in 1972 turned out to be a prion disease as well. The fact that Wisconsin is a major dairy state should send off the alarm bells as you’ll read in the next paragraph. All the deer in the park were eradicated and the park was not repopulated until ten years later. The new population also succumbed to CWD which meant that the prions had been retained in the soil and were virtually indestructible; a fact which leads into my discussion over the next couple of paragraphs.

Weasels, Mink and Ermine

And there’s more when it comes to prions. A little known study in the 1970’s traced a higher incidence in dairy states of downer cows where there was also intensive mink farming. A neurological disorder in mink that was later identified as a Mink Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy would be running at high levels when these mass outbreaks of downer cows would occur. For those that aren’t familiar with downer cows, it’s a term used for cows with a calcium deficiency and they start stumbling and going down. Usually, a quick IV drip of Cal-Mag salts gets them back up on their feet. The difference with these cows was they weren’t getting back up and were then sent off to the rendering plants with no diagnosis other than Downer Cow made. Incidentally, as my thesis examined, the incidence of CJD or the human prion disease was higher in the dairy states. Therein lays the link because in some way this disease in Mink was eventually showing in humans and since mink, ermine and weasels (mustelids) are all in the same family we have a credible reason why God specifically mentioned not eating weasels. What took us until now to understand a little better scientifically was known 3000 years ago. All we did was corroborate it with our current scientific techniques.

Only If It Jumps

How strange that there would be a distinction of which insects could be eaten based on their having large jointed hind legs for the purpose of jumping. Why should this even make a difference you must wonder? It took me a long time to understand this prohibition and it wasn’t until my work with prions that I finally understood it. Jumping insects like grasshoppers and locusts aren’t burrowing into the ground. They consume live and dead plant tissues above ground but not the organisms or waste in the soil. Whereas those insects that creep and crawl on the ground are consuming dead organic tissue, especially from other animals. A matter of fact, the Torah insists that once we die we do not embalm our bodies so that we will be consumed by the myriad of creatures that creep and crawl. And if that is the case, then any disease causing entity that cannot be destroyed will in turn be preserved within the bodies of these creatures. Now you should be recognizing the threat that was exposed during the investigation of prions and the insects consuming dead organic material. They are a conduit to the preservation of the disease ensuring that there is a preservation of these abnormal proteins unto eternity. We’ve only known about this new category of disease causing entities for the past thirty years. God knew about it three thousand years ago. Incredible as it sounds it is the only logical conclusion.


The birds listed are known carrion eaters. Not only that, some of them are hunters and would therefore eat the small animals and other birds that were forbidden. I’ve already provided a warning of the threat that dead animals present in the transference of disease. But it’s not only prions but many other viruses, bacteria and parasitic cysts that will be provided a continuance through intermediate hosts.

Forbidden Swine

It has only been over the last fifty years that medical research has demonstrated a close link between swine and humans. It is the major reason that the species is being suggested for xenotransplantation or in other words why science wants to use swine for replacement parts, such as hearts, skin, pancreatic cells, etc. The fact is that swine actually came off the evolutionary chain closer to humans than other species except for the primates. But being closer has its drawbacks which we have all come familiar with over the last year with the outbreak of Swine Flu. If we are close then we also share things in common such as parasites and worst of all viruses. Of major concern to transplant specialists are the REO and Retro viruses but there are far more diseases that can spread the fear of mass death within humanity. The transmission of disease between pigs and swine and back again is not a new thing. It would have been known long ago that pig farmers and those in close proximity to swine herds had a higher incidence of serious illness. Thereby through the forbidding of swine to be eaten the animals wouldn’t even be kept in the vicinity of the community as they’d serve no economic purpose. As a result the following would be avoided by their exclusion; Swine Flu, Swine Vesicular Disease, and Foot and Mouth virus; all of them serious diseases that theoretically could exterminate humanity. But let’s not forget the bacterial transmission of such diseases as brucellosis, campylobacteriosis, erysipelas, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, streptococcus, anthrax and colibacillosis. Swine are a threat to spread all of these and they can be as equally serious as the viruses. Then there are the parasitic diseases spread by swine such a trichinosis, sparganosis, taeniosis, scabies, cysticercosis, yersiniosis (Plague), tularaemia and balantidiasis. Probably the most serious, even though Plague was in that aforementioned list, is that pigs not only carry the tuberculosis of cattle and birds but they can also be the source for human tuberculosis and that has a greater precedence to exposure than the others.

Are you thinking twice about eating pork, well you should be? As consumed species go, swine is the one that has the greatest chance of causing severe illness through ingestion because not even cooking the meat well eliminates all of the listed organisms and quite a number on the list are deadly. Foot and Mouth has been found to survive pickling, salting and drying of meat. Even after eradication of swine herds, some of the viruses and parasites were found to survive the decontamination process living on inanimate objects. Bacterial such as leptospirosis were found to be surviving well in water barrels and bowls and sparganosis favourite means of transfer is through water where the cysts for this foot and a half tapeworm are deposited. From just these few organisms it should readily be seen why there was such concern with any water that came in contact with these prohibited carcasses and why even the bowls and utensils became a concern. Once again you must say ‘Wow’, how amazing that three thousand years ago God was able to forewarn Moses about these possibilities.

No Fins Or Scales

From the fish perspective that leaves us with either those fish that scavenge the bottoms such as catfish or those that are aggressive hunters such as eels to be avoided but it also eliminates the shellfish and mollusks from the menu. We should all know about paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) by now, there’s been enough press about it. But what you may not know is that there are at least twenty derivatives of the saxitoxin produced by the dinoflagellates that then accumulates in the shellfish such as mussels, clams and scallops. PSP is only one of these and the others can be just as dangerous. The toxins are heat stable which means that not even cooking destroys them, so how confident are you when you consume your next meal of shellfish? Does Red Lobster provide a medical plan? Tetramine poisoning is common when eating whelks (marine snails) as it exists in their salivary glands causing a wide variety of neurological signs when ingested by humans. Not to mention that these snails are both predators and scavengers which means they’re picking up whatever diseases their last meal might be carrying. But besides toxins there are many other dangers presented by shellfish. Dioctophymiasis is a parasite from crayfish and other crustaceans in which the nematode migrates to our kidneys and begins its destructive process. Removal of the kidney is the only treatment. If both kidneys are affected then there is a serious problem. Short of a transplant, you will die. The facts are that shellfish are bottom filter feeders, which means their exposure to bacteria is quite high and it should be no surprise that they are disseminators of microbial diseases. The fact that aquaculture farmers know their lobsters are susceptible to such diseases as shell disease, Gaffkemia, microbial epibiont disease, Lagenidium disease, Haliphthoros disease, and Fusarium disease does not provide us with any reassurance that these entities do not cause a disorder in humans if digested. We just don’t know enough about them yet. Back in July of 2008 the FDA released an advisory regarding tomalley, the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of the lobster that functions as the liver and pancreas. High levels of PSP toxins were present in lobster tomalley The FDA advisory applied only to tomalley, the government declaring the rest of the lobster meat was safe since high levels of PSP toxins were only present in the lobster tomalley and only insignificant levels in the remainder of the lobster. Perhaps one should define insignificant since we know that these toxins can accumulate and cooking no matter how long did not eliminate it. The symptoms of PSP included tingling and/or numbness of the mouth, face or neck; muscle weakness; headache; and nausea and in extreme cases large amounts of the toxin if consumed, could lead to respiratory failure and death. They warned that symptoms usually would occur within two hours of exposure to the toxin. Two hours before you press the panic button. And if that wasn’t enough to worry about the FDA warned that PSP toxins normally occur in clams and other shellfish. Often these symptoms will lead to respiratory failure and death. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention was their last bit of advice. Perhaps the advice should have been “think twice before eating shellfish.” The Torah warned you first and now the FDA is giving you their warning.

In regards to eels, there is still much we have to learn. In a report from the Protein Journal in 2008 the following was disclosed, “Although eels are well known to contain toxins in the serum, their chemical properties have remained to be clarified for a long time. In this study, a proteinaceous toxin was purified from the serum of Japanese eel Anguilla japonica and was lethal to both mice and crabs.” And in 1995 we find the following article which reveals that the researcher isolated and purified a lethal protein toxin from the Indian catfish Plotosus canius. The toxin was lethal in mice being both cardiotoxic, and having neuromuscular blocking activity. The toxin also produced cardiac arrest on isolated toad and guinea pig hearts. Prior administration of atropine and propanolol failed to counteract toxin activity on isolated heart preparations. Even antiserum raised against the toxin failed to antagonize its lethal activity in mice. And in a recent report from the University of Michigan a study there concluded that poisonous catfish are far more common than previously thought. The researcher Jeremy Wright warned of how catfish venoms poison nerves and break down red blood cells, producing severe pain, reduced blood flow, muscle spasms, and respiratory distress.

In Conclusion

This article has merely emphasized the fact that three thousand years ago dietary laws were put in place for the preservation of mankind. There were issues that the people of that time period couldn’t even contemplate let alone understand. God asked that they trust Him. An act of faith that He knew what was best for humankind. And along came a heretic twelve hundred years later that challenged the Jerusalem Church. He told Peter he was a fool for following the commandments within the Torah when it came to the dietary laws. And then Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem and they stood down the elders in Jerusalem and managed to sway them to their opinion. A fact that it was not Yeshua who changed the dietary laws but a man named Paul. And ever since Christians have been acting contrary to the commandments of the Lord. Perhaps now the science of today and the teachings of a Karaite can help you reconsider that decision!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wisdom of Kahana: The Soul of Man

Wisdom of Kahana: The Soul of Man

One of the hardest concepts to appreciate and understand is the soul of man. And to further exasperate the problem, religions have decided to confound the matter even more by ignoring what is clearly defined in Genesis, that the soul was a particular gift from God to man, and to no other species on this planet. For it is clearly written that even after God had created all the other animals he did something different with man at the time of our inception.

7 Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

ז וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים; וַיְהִי הָאָדָם, לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה.

This breath of life was different from the the actual act of living which all the other creatures possessed. Man became the embodiment of this soul. We are the vessel to contain it but it is something very different and apart from our own existence. This was an actual part of God which He infused into man to become the soul and our essence. So even though you will have religious leaders today claiming that dogs and cats have a soul and they too will be granted an afterlife, the fact is that man is unique in this attribute. Only man, and man alone possesses a soul. And we don't even really possess it because as God clearely stated, we become part of it, not the other way around.

Now what I am about to say may upset some of you because even though I am a Karaite, and some Karaites would like to believe there is a final reward, my beliefs are those of a Zadokite and therefore I have no concept of an afterlife. And to those that have come to believe that your soul grants you some form of immortality, and that you find some respite from the hardships of this world by finding a place in heaven where you can idle away eternity in discussion with sages and ancestors of the past, I am afraid those are concepts that have little to do with the 'soul' that I am about to discuss. The only reward to life is this beautiful gift of life we already have. And we should choose not to follow God's laws because we expect some reward of eternity or paradise but because it is necessary for the betterment of the soul that we have been gifted with to nourish and protect for reasons I will attempt to explain.

What I am about to relate to you has to do with the Shekinah, or what Moses described as the cloud which contained the presence of God. It was not God but a manifestation of his creative power, or as we might describe in our scientific language of today, an energy 'sink' or 'pool'. And as I have said repeatedly, all things come form the Shekinah and all things return to the Shekinah. It is the Shekinah that provided us with the origin of what we refer to as our soul. Perhaps we should think of it as a library book that we have borrowed for a time, derived great joy and pleasure from it, but when we are done we must return it so that others may also benefit. I know this is a difficult concept to accept but let me explain:

The Soul of Man

Above all things is the greatness of God, but under Him and above all else on this earth is the soul of man. The soul of man is not separate from God but is in itself a part of God by which He has spanned the gulf between Heaven and Earth. It is the chord which binds man to God and why man is the only creature on earth that recognizes its own mortality. Only man understands that he will grow old and succumb to death and pass into nothingness. No other animal on this planet understands that their lives will end in decay and doom.

And it is this nothingness, this sentence of death which frightens man the most and why he has always desperately searched for an answer to immortality. All of man’s superiority and yet mankind is terrified by the ultimate fate that awaits. Born as a hapless babe and dying like a hapless babe, crying for one more chance, one more hour, fearing the unknown and not appreciating the divine plan where the spark returns to its origin through the chord attached.

To the beast of the field, they have no comprehension of time. Each day is like the next. There is no understanding of the changes of life, the span of time or the desire of youth. The carnivore has no understanding that one day itself will be prey to the ravages of time, its bones bleached beneath the blazing sun no different from the animals it has slaughtered. The cow marched through the abattoir has no concept of what awaits in the stunning chamber. Only man can appreciate what happens next and it shakes him to the core of his bones.

The soul must not be confused with life for all creatures have life. That is nothing more than an electrical-chemical spark that infuses the cells with activity, the heart to beat, the nerves to relay their signals through the synapses. But that is not the soul, that essence of spirit that drives us to achieve more than we think ourselves capable of achieving, to contemplate that which we have no knowledge of. The receptors in the nose smell but it is the soul that brings back sweet memories to a particular odour or fragrance that fills us with a longing and desire. It is the stomach that digests, but the soul that makes us savour a particular flavour that makes our heart sing. Our eyes see but it is the soul that gives us that second sight that transmits what we saw into lessons we treasure for the rest of our lives.

All creatures can sense fear, rage, anger and love. These are basic needs that drive life to survive and exist. But other than man, what creature can have a sense of honour and shame, justice and treachery, or chivalry or cowardice. These are qualities that require not only intellect but willpower and the ability to overcome the basic instincts. Only with a soul can a man react in a completely opposite manner to the fight or flight instincts that are hardwired into all living organisms. It is the soul which provides us with the ability to act noble, to appreciate beauty, to act contrary to our animal directives.

The soul is malleable, waiting for us to shape it well beyond the simple spark that was infused within us the day we were conceived. It is ours to beautify, ours to fill with goodness, ours to glorify with love. In the same manner that we can shape it into a thing of ugliness should we choose to follow a path of darkness, filled with vices and hatred. What you do with the soul is within your own power and therefore it is left to your imagination to carve and shape into a final image of your life. The soul thirsts for its final transformation and it is the product of free will which was God’s gift to mankind. God has provided his guidelines by which man is to shape the soul but the determination of whether one does or doesn’t is left to each one of us.

Though man will never know immortality, the soul is already part of the everlasting existence of the universe. It is returned to the Shekinah when life is done, back to the domain which is God, Himself. How it returns to the Shekinah is our responsibility. Glorified, splendiferous, or scarred and damaged, that is within our power. And only when we realize that our existence does have a purpose, that it just isn’t about being born, living a life of toil and hardship, and then dying but in reality is finding ways in which to care and nurture this soul through the love and happiness that life can offer, then and only then do we face death knowing that we can achieve immortality but in a manner different than we assumed it would be achieved. Once we appreciate that throughout our lives we carry the soul like a foetus in the womb in order to give birth to it at the moment of our death then we have also attained an understanding of the meaning of life. The knowlege and experience that we impart to this soul will then either be of benefit or detriment to those already contained within the Shekinah, awaiting to spark another life, another existence. That is within our power. That is how our life is measured and weighed in the balance when we reach our final destiny. Not seeking some personal benefit and reward as we would like to believe, reducing God to some market haggler for our own fulfillment but instead with nobility and honour knowing that we have done our part to shape a better future for mankind and provided and instilled the love for a kinder world with the spark that we have passed on.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wisdom of Kahana: The Nature of God

Wisdom of Kahana: The Nature of God

In Karaism, it is the role of those born Kohen to teach. And although that is what I have been trying to do over the years, it would appear that there is far more that I could be doing and should be doing. So often, I find that people are willing to debate the small and insignificant matters and lose their perspective on the big picture. Sadly, all this leads to is confrontration and consternation within and amongst my Kariate brethren and in so doing fragments us further. And for that reason I have decided to start this series which will provide my perspective on matters but not to the infinite dissection that some seem to desire but through a broad scope with panoramic vision. Karaism was intended and is still intended to paint its teachings with as broad a brush as possible. It mattered not so much whether God's name is pronounced with a 'vav' or an extra 'heh' but that in our hearts and our mind that we knew there was only God to turn to in our hours of need. That it was only his divine existence that we should praise, and that it was only He that could bless us. Everything else was of inconsequence because He needs not to hear His name upon the lips of men but only inscribed upon their hearts. And because this very issue has seemed to have taken upon itself a life of its own and caused endless debate amongst some Karaites, some of which has turned insulting and cruel at a personal level, then I felt it was time to do what it is I have been hereditarily conscripted to do. So this first teaching will be on what I see as the essential nature of God without concern if we pronounce His name with a vav or a heh.

The Nature of God

There is but one God. He is the designer, the creator and the ultimate ruler over all things. He is everlasting and all powerful, both to degrees that can never be fathomed by the intellect of mankind. His existence permeates all things and for that reason He is invisible but yet we see Him at all times and He is unknowable but yet we know of his nature through the world we live in. He is silent, yet his words and actions ring in our ears every day of our lives.
He is the father of fathers, the mother of mothers, for all has come from Him yet he is not defined by sexual attributes or gender. He, or Him is only a pronoun, a tool of language but in no way tries to define God. Those that try to do so do not understand. Man never walks alone, he is never unescorted because God is there at all times whether we choose to see Him or not. He is self-created, there at the beginning and at the end, and He was the one that separated the Light from the Darkness, the Chaos from the Ordered, the Substance from the Void. His is the universal consciousness from which all existence has sprung.
His knowlege is the wisdom of an eternity, and hist strength reaches to the limits of infinity. He dwells within and without the universe, from the core of an atom to the heart of a blazing sun. From the emptiness of space to the dancing radiance of the quazar.
His voice whispers to us from the running waters as they splach over the rocks and pebbles, and roars to us from the force of the whirling tornado. He sighs from the bending treetops and he laughs upon the leaves dancing as they blow in the wind. All these are the voice of God and yet we hear him not.
A man dreams and wishes that it would be reality but God dreams and it becomes reality. Man tries to rationalize God through reason, but the essence of God is beyond reason and therefore always beyond human comprehension. Man seeks God through science but fails to understand that even the laws of science had to be set by one who possessed the creative power. Therefore it is nothing more than a tool and a tool can never reveal its maker. Because through His laws of nature he governs the destinies of all living creatures and we are bound to these laws that we continually try to master. All the forces within and withou are controlled by God and that which we continually seek to explain these forces is none other than Him. Whether we accept it or not, our spirits are filled with the urge to seek God. It is an insatiable hunger no matter how much we try to deny it.
All things have their appointed place and purpose in the universe, and all existence conforms to the laws that He has created. The workings of the universe transcends our understanding so how can we even attempt to understand He that has created the universe? Few will understand the path that He has set for us. We wil curse the stones that cut our feet and scream in agony at the thorny brambles and adversity that block our way. We equate riches and fame with blessings and money and possessions with heavenly reward but none of these are from God and only deceive us into thinking we have found Him. For God is in the order of nature and His plan is in the direction of its orderly laws. Look for Him amongst the stars in the heaven and the sands on the beach and then you will appreciate His grand scheme.
See His glory in the heavens, his brilliance in the light of the sun that gives life to all creatures and plants upon this Earth, his peace in the moon that inspires us to love, his creativity in all which inhabit the oceans and the air, His bounty in the fruits of all that grows from the soils of our planet. Then and only then will you truly appreciate the Glory of God.
The Earth bends to His will. Mountains rise and islands sink beneath the waves. Ground quakes and the winds ravage all that we create. We are insignificant against all that He has created and we must find our place in His universe. We are bound by His limitations but these are still beyond our grasp for He has given us the intellect and capacity to far exceed our present knowledge.
We must realize that the sun shines down on the good and the wicked alike. The heartbreak of misfortune will strike the worthy and unworthy with indifference. Only the wise man will appreciate that this seeming indiffence by God actually serves a purpose. For God neither rewards nor punishes. Long ago he gave us the intellect to establish our own fate. But all that we think that we accomplish has only been throuh His initial design. Each man ultimately decrees his own fate and is rewarded according to their own achievements.
Order and beauty is God's gift to us. All things within the universe move accordingly to the direction of His hand. And it is the beauty of this creation which is His face. It is the awe of our own existence that is His wisdom. It is the sounds we hear from a world of amazement that is His voice. Know that He is with us always. He walks beside us wherever we may go. He is all that we are, and all that there is. From the burning bush He told us so but so many fail to listen and understand. Let us appreciate that Life is a gift and existence is its reward. We come from the Shekinah and all things return to the Shekinah. Such is His law, such is His glory.
Avrom Aryeh-Zuk Kahana

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jesus of the Talmud: Rabbinical Shame

Changing World

Why now?  A simple question that deserves a simple answer.  Although there are many that will argue that the world is a far better place now than it has ever been, based on their arguments that mankind has become more tolerant, more accepting of differences, more liberal in its thinking, more technologically attuned, less prejudicial against its fellow man and generally world focused regarding global causes rather than the egocentric universe of the past, I beg to differ.  These are merely illusions provided to us on a daily basis by the spin doctors that control our media, our politicians, our education and if I dare say so, our religious institutions too.  Scrape past the thin veneer and it becomes obvious that which is being promoted as a better, kinder, wiser world is in reality nothing more than a repackaging of everything we struggled and fought against in the past that we knew was wrong.  But in past days we would speak up and would not tolerate the misappropriation of power.  The wants and desires of the majority have been replaced by the whims and cravings of minorities wishing to exercise their way of life over the many.  The prejudices of the past have taken on an entirely new set of labels; religious prejudices of the past are now adorned with national labels; color prejudices are merely shrouded in economic adjectives; cults and glamorized activists are merely the masks of those we viewed in the past as megalomaniacs bent on the destruction of the world.  We have words such as ethnic cleansing, collateral damage, terrorism, anti-terrorism and anti-anti-terrorism bantered about as daily occurrences.  Movies and television have raised the occult to a desirable status of the young generation, while an older generation looks at the anti-hero or the vigilante as a desirable endpoint since law and order no longer bears the hallmark of justice. Nothing has actually changed other than the fact that because we have now relabeled our sins of the past we can now say that mankind has progressed beyond those days of violence, pettiness and misguided prejudices.  If the pendulum has swung the other way, then being 180 degrees from the starting point does not make the offense any better, merely different, designed to confuse and silence the average person who still dreams of a better world.   And that is our greatest sin in that we have become silent and let this happen.

Curse of the Talmud

A while back I posed the question as to whether it was acceptable for someone to perform evil in order to achieve something good.   That question runs throughout the plot of Shadows of Trinity ( as each of the real-life characters was faced with answering the same question for themselves.  To some it was clearly acceptable based on the things they did during those years at the end of sixteenth century.  The Emperor Rudolf II definitely thought so since his status as monarch was preserved as a result, at least for another two decades before he was forced to abdicate.  So it was not too surprising when some of my readers responded that they too would find it perfectly acceptable as long as the response was of a greater benefit than the action.  Let me rephrase that, the majority of those that responded found it perfectly acceptable.   But therein lies the problem because nothing in life is guaranteed.   Just because one expects to achieve a certain result or reaction does not necessarily mean it will happen.  Exactly the misguided premise that the Rabbis took when they decided to give their perspective on Christianity when writing the Talmud.  Rather than deal with and confess to their own iniquity when they transformed the messiah legends that created the false legacy making Christianity possible in the first place as discussed in previous articles in this series, they instead chose to attack the religion that resulted from their fabrications, thinking that by doing so that they could make it disappear through ridicule and condemnation.   Now it should be remembered that these were the ignorant actions of men living between the first and fourth centuries A.D. , so it would be difficult for us to expect any better of them or try to judge them according to modern standards but they are living proof that often evil actions do not result in good responses even though in their minds that was their expectation.  Instead, by recording their religious intolerance, bias, prejudice and desire to see the Minim dead, they essentially created the future waves of anti-Semitism that underscored Christian history once the Church came to power.  The Minim was an early Hebraic reference to the Christians along with the term Nazorean.  The actual translation of Minim was those Jews that used the Torah in a manner deemed contrary to Judaism.  One must remember that the early Christians were all Jews and therefore they’re justification of Jesus was Torah based since they used the very precepts that had been laid down by the rabbis to battle the Sadducees over the derivation of the messiah.  Just how these so-called knowledgeable and righteous men could have expected any different response from a people they identified as enemies and worthy of being smitten from existence and sent to hell is beyond any reasoning I can think of?  As it is written in the Talmud in Seder Mo’ed (Rosh Hashanah) page 17a, ‘But as for the Minim and the informers and the scoffers, who rejected the Torah and denied the resurrection of the dead, and those who abandoned the ways of the community, and those who ‘spread their terror in the land of the living’, and who sinned and made the masses sin, like Jeroboam the son of Nebat and his fellows — these will go down to Gehinnom and be punished there for all generations’. This very nice comment of condemnation to a rotting hell for eternity was not only directed at Christians but at Zadokites as well. One must not forget as much as the rabbis resented the early Christians their hatred for the Sadducees was far greater.  In fact, anyone who disagreed with the rabbis was going to be sent to Hell forever.  But the rabbis, whom I’ve often described as old men sitting about with nothing better to do than listen to the sound of their own voices, went further than they should, making comments regarding Christianity and Jesus that they barely attempted to disguise by giving false names to the individuals.  But unable to restrain themselves they would always insert enough facts that it became obvious whom they were talking about as is the case of Sanhedrin 106a where they wrote, ‘Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, [did the children of Israel slay with the sword].  A soothsayer? But he was a prophet!  R. Johanan said: At first he was a prophet, but subsequently a soothsayer.  R. Papa observed: This is what men say, 'She who was the descendant of princes and governors, played the harlot with carpenters.' Examining their comment about a woman that was from the Davidic line that wed a carpenter, but played the harlot indicating she had someone else’s child, and that son was initially a prophet but became a soothsayer or magician subsequently is obviously alluding to Jesus.  They furthermore say in their addled talk that he was slain as a result of the Jews which only further infuriated Christian clerics when they translated the Talmud.   Their attempt to ridicule Christianity, never thinking it would become a dominant religion was their attempt to do something evil with the expected outcome that it would simply disappear over time.   Such stupidity has led to the massacre of millions of Jews over time, all because a bunch of men sought power and had neither political nor diplomatic acumen to understand neither the ways of the world nor the foresight to realize that if you continually hit upon someone they will eventually hit back a hundred times harder.

The matter becomes even more obtuse when one realizes that the Talmud that is published today has undergone an extensive editing process over the years due to censorship.  When Christian leaders became aware of some of the sayings of the Rabbis in the Talmud regarding Christianity and Jesus, they demanded these be changed.  Some of the ancient Talmud manuscripts prior to these changes still exist today and one of the more noteworthy comments in Sandhedrin 107b was as follows: And a Master has said, 'Jesus the Nazarene practised magic and led Israel astray.'  At first it doesn’t sound like much.  Hardly enough to raise the ire or objections of any reader.  It’s not until one appreciates what these rabbis have admitted in their statement.  From my perspective they have publicly stated that Jesus possessed powers beyond that of most men and that he had a considerable following.  As a Karaite I do not see this as a declaration of his being a messiah but what it does suggest to me that he most definitely had the abilities of a prophet, not dissimilar from an Elijah or an Elisha.  If that was the case and they did know that he was special right from the start, then what were they thinking by continually ridiculing him in the Talmud.  Surely they knew the lessons from the Tanach that we are a people guilty of harassing and attempting to slay the prophets sent to us by God and their own actions were reaffirming this.  
It is obvious that these Rabbis had lost control of the situation.  Rather than remedy the turmoil they created they only aggravated it further and alienated Jews and Christians further in the process.  Nothing would improve and the resultant separation would never be resolved.  The planned evil that they perpetrated certainly didn’t result in a bettering of mankind.   Modern Rabbanites acknowledge that their ancient predecessors may have lacked critical judgment where necessary but then excuse them as having lived in an age without the benefits of critical scrutiny that we now possess.  Rabbanites agree that some of the statements made were inflammatory and not worthy of men they hold in reverence and quickly shovel them underneath the carpet and exclaim that we can ignore these minor transgressions because of the greatness that is found elsewhere in the Talmud.

I for one am not so forgiving to accept that as a legitimate defence and I’m certainly not willing to accept any part of the Talmud which was written by these same men that were never divinely inspired based on the dissemination of intolerance that they exhibited in their writings.  God would have never accepted that nor would advise His children to do so.  But there also is a logical refutation to the defence made by the modern Rabbanites in support of these ancient Talmudists.  And as a logical equation it removes any doubt as to their validity and is written as follows:  If their logic was impaired; if their intentions were misguided and if the evil they perpetrated was nourished by malcontent and misinformation and then it must be accepted that their judgment was both inaccurate and unsupported in this regard.  And that is being true then it must be assumed that everything else they’ve incorporated into the Talmud was made under identical conditions and therefore is doubtful as to its accuracy and authenticity.  Essentially if they were completely wrong about their facts and approach in one area and that they fabricated the facts and stories to support their beliefs then the same will hold true for everything they produced.  That would include their doctrines of the Messiah which were purposely designed to run contrary to those of the Sadducees and Zadokites.   And from this we can deduce that if statement (A) being their intent behind particular stories in the Talmud was malicious and non-righteous, this leads to conclusion (C) that the Talmud was therefore not sanctioned by God.  Furthermore statement (B) that these stories included derogatory and defamatory statements regarding sects and other religions which resulted from Rabbinical fabrications and lies regarding the advent of the messiah and perpetrated as  in (A).  That being the case, then if B=A and A=C then it can be concluded that similarly B=C indicating the resulting religions of Rabbinic alterations of the truth are not sanctioned by God.

It was this scenario that Isaac ben Abraham Troki found himself immersed in when he examined the repulsion between the two religions.  But he also knew that as long as rabbinical dogma took a sarcastic and malicious approach to Christianity the slaughter of Jews by Christians would continue as a normal reaction of human nature.  Only by exercising a logical approach and finding a way to promote self-evaluation amongst Christians he knew that many would see the validity and sense of his argument and Christianity would then be brought to a crossroads, not because the rabbis ridiculed them but because their own conscious demanded they do so.   And upon self-evaluation he hoped they would recognise the preceding errors behind their origins and move closer to aligning themselves with Karaite beliefs.

Isaac ben Abraham Troki

As I have introduced the logical argument, Troki went on to prove in the Hazuk Amunah that the argument was flawless.  There were four conditions he wrote that demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that Yeshua was not the Messiah and these were all provided from the New Testament.  The first condition of irrefutable proof had to do with the pedigree provided.  The second had to do with the acts he performed as described in the Gospels.  The third had to do with the period in which he lived and the last was based solely on the fact that during his existence the promises which herald the advent of the Messiah were not fulfilled and only by fulfillment could the identity of the Messiah be beyond a shadow of doubt.
The first, regarding pedigree was the Gospels own refutation that he was a patrilineal  descendant of King David.  Since it is written in Chapter 1 of Mathew that Joseph did not know Mary until after she had given birth to Jesus, then Joseph’s pedigree has absolutely nothing to do with Yeshua.  Conflicting pedigrees between Mathew and Luke don’t help the matter either but since both end with Joseph, to be the result of virginal birth, then neither really matters.
The second, looking at specific acts of Yeshua as indicating he was not the Messiah can be summed up with just one, the rest being supporting details.  In Zechariah 9:10 it is written that the Messiah will speak peach until the heathen and in Isaiah 2:4 it is said they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.   But Yeshua says in Matthew 10:34 says, “Think not that I have come to make peace on earth: I came not to send peace but the sword, and to set a man at variance against his father and a daughter against her mother and the daughter-iin-law against her mother-in-law.”  In essence Yeshua was telling everyone right there and then he was not the Messiah.
The third issue raised by Troki was about timing.  Isaiah stated in 2:2  that the timing of the Messiah comes to pass in the latter days when the Lord’s house shall be established on top of the mountains.”  Clearly Yeshua did not exist during the latter days.  Two thousand years afterwards we can look back and say they definitely weren’t the latter days. 
And fourthly Troki raised the issue of fulfilling the promises of the Messiah.  These included the prophesy of Daniel in 2:44 that at the time of the Messiah there will only be one kingdom and one King, that being the Messiah.  Of course that isn’t the case with the world divided into many kingdoms, empires and states.  And Isaiah speaks of the time of the Messiah being a time of one creed and one religion and that is the religion of Israel in 52:1.  Well, that certainly isn’t the case either.  In fact it’s the opposite with many of the old pagan religions such as Wiccan, Earth-goddess, etc. experiencing a revival.   This is echoed in Zechariah 13:2 with the predicted disappearance of all false idols.  Once again, in this time we are living the opposite is happening.  Even more condemning in this regard is the prediction by Zephaniah 3:13 that when the Messiah does come the remnant of Israel shall not speak lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths.  I think one can already tell from my numerous articles in which I argue against the false and misleading statements made by the Rabbanites that his certainly has not come to pass nor does it appear to be in any time soon.  But most importantly, as a Karaite, the Shekinah plays a very important role in my beliefs of Messianic times.  All things come from the Shekinah and all things return to it is the core of my beliefs.  And it is clearly evident from Ezekiel 37:26 that we will know when the Shekinah has returned because it will be as it was in the former days with the Lord living in our midst evermore and the people will increase in prophecy, wisdom and knowledge.   That definitely has not happened and it was reported during the Roman-Jewish War that the exact opposite may have happened with people witnessing what they assumed was a remnant of the Shekinah fleeing from the Temple in Jerusalem prior to its destruction.
It should be evident from Troki’s opening arguments and my few comments in addition to his that the logical approach of utilizing the Christian Gospels as the determinant of Yeshua’s messiahship was the only approach that should have been taken and the rabbis when they had the opportunity to fix their mistakes completely fumbled the ball in that respect.  Now we are left with the consequences of their errors in judgment.   And once more I raise the initial question of whether it is acceptable to perform evil in order to achieve good and I will qualify it with my own answer:  Only when the outcome is guaranteed to be far greater than the evil committed.  And since there are no guarantees in life then like my ancestor Yakov Kahana in Shadows of Trinity, I’d have to say the answer is ‘No’.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Historical Evidence fo the Ten Plagues of the Exodus

The last article established some basic considerations that are hard to refute.  For your recollection, these were: 1. The Exodus occurred in the last two years of the reign of Amenhotep III, 2. Moses was a Crown Prince of Egypt and in fact was the renegade Thutmose, 3. Monotheism was already becoming a contentious issue in Egypt and was challenging the existing pantheon of gods. 4. The city of Pi-Ramses was actually Avaris and over a twenty-five year span, Amenhotep used slave labour comprised of the Hapiru, the same people it is believed were the Hebrews.   All this sounds very convincing but it is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  There is far more evidence which is about to be discussed which helps cement the case solid.  Once again, I repeat  my belief that the more scientific, archeological, historical evidence that can be provided to support the Exodus story, even if it does not actually portray the events exactly as they are described in the Torah these are vital to the overall teachings of the Law Giver, proving that it was not the story but the lessons that must be learned by all.  Again, this is the essential pillar of Karaism, that the teachings and the law supersedes all else.   And if clarifying the means by which these teachings are portrayed helps to create believers of those that have lost their way, then so much the better.     Because teaching is what not only being a Karaite but being Kahana is what our purpose in life has been since the beginning.

Dating the Plagues

The matter of the plagues has already been discussed in the article and therefore rediscussing each individual plague doesn’t serve any purpose in establishing the time line since none were ever recorded by Egyptian historians.  But this article did serve the purpose of demonstrating that such events could occur if there was a major eruption.  And the reality of an eruption of this magnitude was thoroughly discussed in where we see there were a series of major volcanic eruptions occurring in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries BC, the Thera eruption being the most catastrophic and the one which occurred during the reign of Amenhotep III.
Now the first of those articles looked at the plausibility of the plagues occurring but the question has always been why was there never any record of them in Egyptian history?  And as mentioned previously, Egyptian Pharaohs had no desire to list their disasters for posterity, concentrating only on their successes.  Unfortunately, this meant that even if they did occur, there purposely would be no record of them as proof and that is where most investigators leave off their pursuit and classify the event as impossible to prove.  Had they thought beyond the black and white they would have seen that there was circumstantial evidence to suggest the plagues actually did occur and they happened in the last two years of Amenhotep III’s reign.
For every action there is a reaction.  We have all experienced this law of mankind.  If someone was to hurt us, we would take action to protect ourselves from it ever happening again.  There is always a response to an adverse event and Amenhotep was no different from any other human.  He had been hurt, his country had suffered, his firstborn was lost to him forever, and he would rely on the gods to ensure that he would never suffer such a catastrophe again.  There was only one god of Egypt that he would turn to.  The goddess of disasters, Sekhmet and in the last two years of his reign, the Pharoah dedicated to Amun and Ra at his birth was suddenly history’s biggest advocate of this small time goddess.  He began erecting hundreds upon hundreds of statues all over the country.  The temple at Ashur that he was building for the chief goddess Must was suddenly dedicated to this second string goddess, Sekhmet.  Many of these statues can now be found in museums all over the world because he erected so many.  At Luxor alone he erected seven hundred Sekhmet statues.  So despite history’s recording of Amenhotep III’s reign as being a period of stability, prosperity and expansion, there was obviously something that occurred that sent shivers down his spine and made him start trying to appease the goddess of disasters almost to the point of madness.  If we examine Egyptian Mythology and realize that Sekhmet according to legend tried to destroy all of mankind and only through the intervention of her father Ra was mankind saved, then we have a gauge of the degree of madness he was experiencing.  As far as Amenhotep was concerned, he was saving his people, his country, his kingdom from total destruction; the weapons of mass destruction known as the Ten Plagues.  He was desperately trying to appease the goddess of disaster so that she would stop the plagues being visited upon the land by this unknown God of his son, Thutmose.


Now we have a date.  The last two years of Amenhotep III"s reign which places the events somwhere between the years 1350 to 1360 BC since we don't actually know the actual dates of Egyptian Pharaohs within more or less  of a decade.  Even though the historical records do not say that the plagues were visited upon Egypt at this time, we have enough evidence in the form of statues to suggest that a major catastrophe did occur that terrified the Egyptian monarch beyond any nightmare that we could imagine.  But then again, we don't have to imagine it because the Torah provides us with a pretty accurate description of what occurred.  I'm not about to stop here, there is more to my investigation yet to be revealed but that will have to wait until the next article.  So until then, Peace be with You.
Avrom Aryeh Zuk Kahana