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WHERE was BETHLEHEM ?

In Joshua 19:10-16 we read that there was a town Bethlehem in the tribal territory of ZEBULON (the Israelite tribe Zebulon; correct transliteration: Zevulun).  This Bethlehem is situated in Galilee in the north of Israel, and should not be confused with the area Bethlehem in Judea.  The original Hebrew behind the name Bethlehem is Beit Lechem, which means "House of Bread" i.e. "Area of Food-supply" i.e. a territory fit for planting agricultural crops, especially grains such as wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt. Joshua 19:10-16 10The third lot came out for the children of Zevulun according to their families, and the border of their inheritance was as far as Sarid. 11Their border went toward the west and to Maralah, went to Dabbasheth, and extended along the brook that is east of Jokneam. 12Then from Sarid it went eastward toward the sunrise along the border of Chisloth Tabor, and went out toward Daberath, bypassing Japhia. 13And from there it passed along on the east of Gath Hepher, toward Eth Kazin, and extended to Rimmon, which borders on Neah. 14Then the border went around it on the north side of Hannathon, and it ended in the Valley of Jiphthah El. 15Included were…

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Maccabees – Maqabim – Hammers

The Maccabees (מכבים or מקבים‎)‎, Maqabim, were the leaders of a Jewish rebel army that took control of Judea, which at the time had been a province of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE. They reasserted the Jewish religion, partly by forced conversion, expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest and reduced the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism. In the 2nd century BCE, Judea lay between the Ptolemaic Kingdom (based in Egypt) and the Seleucid empire (based in Syria), monarchies which had formed following the death of Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE).  Judea had come under Ptolemaic rule, but fell to the Seleucids around 200 BCE.  Judea at that time had been affected by the Hellenization campaign begun by Alexander.  Some Jews, mainly those of the urban upper class, notably the Tobiad family, wished to dispense with the Jewish Torah and to adopt a Greek life­style.  According to the historian Victor Tcherikover, the main motive for the Tobiads' Hellenism was economic and political.  The Hellenizing Jews built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, adjacent to the Temple, competed in international Greek games, “removed their marks of circumcision and repudiated the holy…

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I FEAR FOR MY COUNTRY…

Why did Avraham Avinu (our father Avraham) pray and intercede on behalf of the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah? It was because, in his day, Avraham Avinu stood in the capacity of the “Guarantor of Humanity”, the custodian of humanity, the representative interceding advocate who represented humanity before YHWH. From Avraham's prayer and the response of HaShem, we learn that populations and nations may be protected and spared from severe judgement, in the merit of the Tzadiqim (righteous ones) who dwell in their midst. In 1929 the Chafetz Chayim gave a shalosh se'udot teaching (i.e. teaching after the 3rd meal of the shabbat) in Germamia shel Edom. His words were: There is a fire that hangs over the world at all times which seeks to come down from the sky and consume the world.  The only thing which shields the world is the vapour which comes from the breath of innocent young children who are starting to learn Torah.  Since the Communists, Socialists, secularists and Reform Movement were taking the children out of yeshivot (Torah learning centres), the protective magen or shield which shields Am Yisra'el from the threatening fire, was disappearing and within 10 years this devouring fire…

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The Tzadiq as the Pillar of the World

The Tzadiq (Righteous) serves as a foundation and pillar of the world — Proverbs 10:25 …Tzadiq yesod olam… which may either be read as “the Tzadiq is the foundation of the world” or, alternatively, as “the Tzadiq has an enduring foundation”.  The Tzadiq-ideology developed in the Zohar, prefers the rendering, “the Tzadiq is the foundation (supporting pillar) of the world.” The concept of Tzadiq is introduced in the Torah regarding Noach, when we read in the first verse of Parashat Noach in Seifer Toldot (Genesis) that Noach was an ish tzadiq tamim in his generation – a man who was a perfect Tzadiq in his times. In Genesis 18, Avraham implores HaShem not to annihilate two sin-filled cities for the sake of the Tzadiqim (Righteous) living there.  The dialogue continues until bedrock is reached: It requires 10 Tzadiqim to merit sparing a community from harsh judgement.  The message is clear: when there are no tzadiqim in a community, there is no merit and a gezeirah (edict) of destruction will not be held back.  The Tzadiqim therefore do not only rescue themselves, but also rescue their communities from harsh decrees. The Tzadiq of every generation was viewed as a custodian, advocate,…

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THE NEED TO MAINTAIN CONSISTENT STANDARDS IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE

Around us, we observe many professional pharmacists, medical doctors, engineers, economists, actuaries, accountants, programmers, systems developers, technicians, academics, teachers and scientists who have reached admirable career heights. However, get these same people into a “religious” setting, and observe how 95% of them suddenly regress to the level of uninformed, superstitious, emotionally immature amateurs.  Why do we encounter NS – a world-famous MP from SA, headhunted and hand-picked in the year 2000 by Americans to head PRT development projects in the US, sending emails to friends in SA about the “blessed Easter spent with the kids hunting for chocolate eggs & rabbits in the park”?  And why does a reputed Christian Pastor in Bellville, South Africa pride himself on the “blessed Easter sunrise service when we would in unison run up a hill to greet the rising sun on the hilltop with outspread arms and cries of jubilation”? Why do we observe nuclear analysts and academics with PhD degrees grinning sheepishly next to decorated trees late in December every year – trees taken directly from a blend of pagan Asherah-cults, the old pagan Roman feast of Natalis Solis Invictus and the old pagan Germanic-Nordic feasts dedicated to Odin/Wotan – feasts whose decor and rituals were…

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“SIN” — WHAT IS SIN?

The English word SIN derives from Old English syngian which means "to tread or walk where you are not supposed to go".  In Old Saxon we find a word sundion, in Old Frisian sendigia, in Middle Dutch it is sondighen, in late Dutch it reads zondigen, in Old High German the term is sunteon, and in contemporary German it is sündigen.  All these words simply mean: "Walking where you are not allowed to walk." The four Hebrew words that underlie the above concept, are: CHET = Aiming & shooting badly and missing the mark, unintentional error, accidental off-target behaviour. AWON = Crooked (instead of straight & upright). PESHA = Rebellious, intentional, “whatever", "who cares” careless transgression. AVEIRA = Crossing over from the domain of decent, moral, upright behaviour, and entering the domain of misbehaving.  Volitional trans-gression.  “To cross over”.  French: Affair.   In Hebrew, the behaviour of an “ethically committed” person is summarised by the initialism, YiTzChaQ (Isaac): Y = Yashar = Straight (not crooked). Tz = Tdadeqah = Fair & balanced; the very opposite of brutal selfishness. Ch = Chesed = Loyal kindness, loyal commitment, loyal love, devoted, inviting, open-door policy. Q = Qadosh = Radically different, dedicated, set-apart.…

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CHURCH: A CLUB FOR LADIES…

Cliff is a man’s man. On the job he’s known as a go-getter and a very hard worker.  He’s a good provider who loves his wife and kids.  He’s well respected by his neighbours.  Cliff drives a powerful 4×4 Double-Cab pick-up truck.  He loves the outdoors and takes every opportunity for hunting and adventure.  He enjoys a cold beer and a naughty joke now and then.  And Cliff never ever goes to church… Ask him why he doesn’t go to church, and he’ll use words like boring, uninteresting, guilt-monger, irrelevant and hypocrite. We live in a society wherein Christianity is experienced as a religion for females and not for strong, practical men.  Christianity, in its various flavours, is "something the wife likes".  Masculine men find churchgoing a painful ordeal and they generally distrust pastors as smooth-talkers and crowd-hypnotists who attempt to charm the gold from one's purse.  Pastors psychologically attract women, and occasionally these women manage to drag their husbands to church... Deep inside, Cliff is a God-fearing patriot with a strong sense of reverence for a Deity.  But going to Church is the last thing he will consider — a dozen or so bad experiences with untenably boring sermons…

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