Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

February 14, 2008


2008-09:  Time for the stick of Joseph

to ‘draw near’ to the stick of Judah

Halachah should be center stage

in the faith walk of Joes -- MbY

Later this year, October 10, 2008, marks the expiration of the 390-year judgment against the non-Jewish House of Israel, which was multiplied seven-fold to 2,730 years when the exiled Northern Kingdom did not repent.  Reckoned from the exile in 722 BCE, the full judgment of the Tochachah (or Admonition promising blessing or cursing according to Israel’s compliance or non-compliance with Torah in Deuteronomy 28) is completed this year (2730-722=2008).


The writings of a 19th Century Jewish Sage suggest that this time when the judgments are completed against the exiles, also signals the beginning of their return.


In his commentary on Ezekiel 37, the Malbim (Meir Leib ben Yechiel Michael) suggests that this begins with the “stick of Joseph” drawing near to “the stick of Judah.”  But the Malbim stops short of stating exactly how this “drawing near” should occur.


Our personal approach to this drawing is that it has been and will continue to be by the Spirit of Hashem. The sound of a shofar, a Passover seder in which bitter herbs are eaten with unleavened bread, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt by dwelling in a succah for a week, attending a synagogue, the minor keys of most Jewish music, the Hebrew language and most importantly, the Torah, are just a few of the means Joes have already struck similar chords with their Jewish brothers and started to “draw near.”


But most Joes do this in the context of the spiritual witness of their existing beliefs, values and priorities, at least until the study of the Torah to which they are drawn, reforms or tweaks those beliefs and values.


To “draw near” to Judah, however, one must be in “table fellowship,” which is usually limited to converts or at least those who have no other God but Hashem and to some extent practice the laws of purity so as not to defile others at the “table.”  The spiritual drawing that unites these Joes also makes them mindful and desirous of observing all of the commandments, judgments and decrees of the Torah, something not common at all for non-Jews and Gentiles.


Drawing near to Judah also implies by the steps taken to do so, drawing near to Hashem.  But to draw near to Hashem, the sages of Judah taught that it is necessary to observe the laws of Torah according to what is called, “Halachah.”  This comes from the Hebrew word, “Holech,” which means simply “to walk or to go out.” So Halachah is the WAY one walks out the Torah and also one’s public witness of the Torah in “going out.”


At Yeshiva Ohr Someah in Jerusalem, the students were asked to define Halachah in their own words. Many good definitions were given, but for some reason the rabbi teaching us singled out the one I offered:  “Halachah is the most perfect expression of our love for Hashem; not that there are not other ways to express this love, just not as perfect.”


Beginning in 2008, the House of Joseph must await an invitation from the leaders of the House of Judah and specifically the Sanhedrin court. But to date, the Sanhedrin court has concerned itself with the Noachite agenda, ignoring its first responsibility to the House of Joseph. But while we wait, let us show the House of Judah that the brotherly love we have for them is the fruit of the true Spirit seeking to reconcile, return and rejoin us.  It is the true Spirit that identifies with their plight and fight with the Palestinians occupying land belonging to Joseph’s descendants and protests a foreign policy that curses Israel by removing its birthright and giving it to Esau.


And on our individual parts, let us study, learn and grow to respect the Halachah which has united and preserved the Jewish faith for millennia.


Y’shua (Jesus) recognized only one authority under Heaven and urged his followers also to respect and honor this sole authority – those who “sit in the seat of Moses.”  He further stated that it was not enough for his followers to DO as they were told by this ruling authority (since in his day many members of this Sanhedrin court were hypocrites who said one thing but did the opposite); they must also GUARD what they were told.


The Aramaic Peshita of the reNewed Testament text employs the word “SHOMER” for guard and the same word has the same meaning in Hebrew.  Shomer means to guard something by “keeping it safe.”  Thus the concept of placing “fences” around difficult commandments to help the people stay within the bounds of the Torah command.  These fences are safeguards which spell out how Moses and the early Hebrew sages understood the Torah should be observed by the practical “walking out” of the commands.


For instance the Torah says to both “Remember” in order to DO the Shabbat and to “Keep” the Shabbat.  The latter is explained by the oral traditions, which eventually were written into a code of laws (the Halachah).  Orthodox Jews believe, and alhough not Jewish nor any religion, MbY holds the same belief, that the Halachah should never be changed as it evolved from Moses, the later Prophets, judges and kings of Israel with the power and sanction of the Spirit of Hashem.  Only a Sanhedrin court has the authority to change Halachah and it should be done with great hesitancy and fear and trembling.  At the same time, the Sanhedrin court should be open to “progressive revelation” or expanded interpretations of the Halachah, which may have not been as evident when it was first given to the people.


For instance, Jacob prophesied that Ephraim and M’nashe (the House of Joseph) would “become” a global Rov (or majority). This means that at one point the House of Joseph will outnumber the House of Judah.  That was not the case in biblical times, but today it can be construed as a threat to the Jewish sovereignty and Jewish identity of the modern Jewish nation unless the Joes who return there share the same Halachah that designates and embraces the ruling authority of Judah.


The Halachah also informs the House of Joseph, who may be strangers to the Torah at first, of the kind of Walk that will allow Joes to walk beside their brother Judah in the observance of the Torah.   The commands to observe the new moon, to hold a Passover seder, to lay t’filin for morning prayers, to tie tzitziyot on the four corners of an outer garment and many many other commands of Torah are understood by the Halachah, which specifies the direction of the sages for their observance.


Anxious days lie ahead for the House of Joseph exiled throughout the world.  Particularly those residing in the coastal regions and affected by famines and other Earth changes, may need help to relocate and restart their lives.  It may help when times become challenging to remember how to draw near to Hashem. At the same time, you will be drawing near to the stick of Judah, which is all that Hashem asks of any Joe. He will do the rest.


Hoa Hoa, Shalom Shalom and Hashem’s love & blessings,

Maggid ben Yoseif  

As many are astonished concerning you thus: "an outline from a man!" ... "his features mirror the sons of Adam!" Thus he shall startle many nations. Concerning him, kings (rulers) shall shut their mouths because that which was not told to them they shall see and that they had not heard they shall meditate to themselves.

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