Crisis In God: Wisdom of Kahana

It took a long time to get back into writing mode as many of you can tell. Not so much from the fact that I was buried neck high in work because I’m pretty much used to that, but because I was having somewhat of a spiritual dilemma. As a result, I still haven’t returned to the Journey Unto Shiloh series of articles, which I will do at a later date because of an interesting discussion I had with my middle son; the one that is studying as an orthodox scholar and working on his PhD in religious studies. Now I give my son full credit for being bright, intelligent and an asset to the rabbinical orthodoxy though they may not appreciate his insights and strength of faith as much as I do. It’s why I named him Evan, for the Hebrew rock or stone. A rock like an anchor but a stone that gets into your shoe, making you trip and fall if you do not pay it attention. The dilemma I refer to concerns the debate regarding restoration of the sacrificial cult, which I raised in an earlier article. Now I have written that although I do not know its true purpose, I do know that God in the Torah has demanded that we sacrifice. Perhaps not as much as the later practices in the Temple, but the morning, evening and burnt offerings are definitely decreed from God through Moses. Therein lays the first of the moral dilemmas. We now live in a world where animal sacrifice is considered unnecessary, inhumane and for the most part, associated with pagan ritual and no longer associated with the true faith in God. Strange that the majority have arrived at the conclusion that what God had originally ordained, is now to be considered anti-God. There is an irony there. Only it was what my son raised next that sent me into this downward spiral of spiritual despair.

THE SECOND DILEMMA

What he proposed was not so much a question but a representation of the failing of us as a spiritual people, the Chosen Light, the Sons of God, so to speak. My son suggested the following, that the sacrifice was merely an appeasement of our primitive past, in order to permit a smoother transition and appreciation that personal prayer was far more meaningful to the Almighty and all that He desired. In other words, God had given us a placebo, a pacifier, something to occupy our hands if not so much our hearts, until we developed a conscience. I know that he was expounding the Rabbinical viewpoint, but in so doing he triggered a series of questions that pestered myself as a Karaite for the longest time and brought about my avoidance of putting pen to paper. To further establish his point, he raised the issue of capital punishment, and whether or not I thought God actually wanted us to go out and stone heretics, slaughter sodomizers, spill the blood of those working on the Sabbath, etc. etc? The natural and normal response of any ‘humanist’ is certainly not as I don’t want to see anyone die. Probably a major reason that in my daily work I am dedicated to saving lives, as many as I possibly can. If this evolvement into a humanistic society was God’s original intent, then why are the laws in the Torah anything but merciful when we examine them closely? The entire foundation of our birth as a people, the killing of the firstborn in Egypt, the drowning in the Reed Sea, the swallowing into the bowels of the earth in the thousands in Korah’s rebellion against Aaron, the destruction of hundreds that danced around the golden calf, and the ordering of those caught scrounging for food on the Sabbath to be put to the sword, a passing of sentence from Moses’ own lips, demonstrated that the faith that God delivered unto us had little to do with ‘humanism’ and everything to do with complete surrender to the Lord’s will, bathing us in blood. That is the true dilemma, because Judaism has in fact has now created the God of Israel in man’s image and not the other way around. The Almighty is no longer so powerful, no longer unforgiving, and certainly no longer the God described in the Torah if we submit to this revisionist viewpoint of what God really wants. If I was swayed to believe that Yahweh was nothing more than a deceiver, a trickster, playing with our minds, pulling our strings like marionettes in order to get us to do what he wanted, with the intent that He never really wanted it but only said so in order to have us cooperate, then it forces me to rethink the essence of God in His entirety.

THE CONUNDRUM

To have us sacrifice, even though the performance was meaningless but to do so because the Lord considered it too difficult to wean us of the practice immediately does not make sense in the context of an omnipotent, all-knowing, all-seeing God that can perform miracles and change the lives of an entire people in the blink of an eye. If He truly wanted only prayer and not sacrifice, then He would have decreed it so at Sinai and not played games for a thousand years of letting us continue in a foolish practice. After all, this was God and as the Torah shows us many times over, if God commands and we fail to listen and obey, then we will be stricken down. As Aaron’s sons who committed the sin of offering ‘strange fire’ were killed by the hand of God, He could have easily done the same to any that sacrificed after He banned it. But He did not! Instead the Almighty glorified the sacrifice and had Moses elevate it to a spiritual level beyond most other religions of the time. Similarly, if the Lord did not want capital punishment, the laws passed down to Moses could have easily been reduced to punishments more befitting such as exile, lashes, amputation and the like. Yet, the laws were strict, were severe and were intended to keep a stiff-necked people under control and living in a socially and morally responsible cooperative, a feat not achieved in our so called ‘civilized’ societies of today where we’ve filled our prisons with those that have committed the most heinous of crimes and will do so again as soon as they are paroled. They know it, we know it, but most of all God knew it. There is the conundrum that we must all face. If we as Jews, and all those of my readers who are Children of Jacob but not born of Jewish stock, are wanting to consider ourselves true followers of Yahweh, then how can we proclaim such a thing if we are to insist that the Laws of God are mutable, malleable and all along He intended for us to change them. What does this all mean in the context of Judaism, whether we call ourselves Karaite or Rabbanite. You see, it’s easy for us to say we don’t light candles on the Sabbath or we do light candles. Similarly, we can make distinction between having a blue thread in our fringes or wearing all white ones. Furthermore, we can debate those that kneel on the ground to pray versus those that sit upright in their comfortable chairs but what does that all mean in the context of religious practices ‘supposedly’ intended to evolve? Is that how we define our differences if we are not willing to practice all that is deemed too difficult to follow in today’s society because the Torah pronounces laws that are not ‘humanistic’ by nature. We all suffer that dilemma whether we are willing or not to admit it. We label ourselves, proclaim distinctions in our faith so that we can point at our differences, yet when it comes to actually following the laws as handed down by God we are all guilty of sorting the wheat from the chaff and only following those which do not land in the too difficult basket. How are we to reconcile our choices with what was/is expected of us? Which all leads me back along the path to my third dilemma but I have given you enough to digest without introducing that now. I’ll save that for the next time I write, which I promise will not be so long in coming.

Shalom Aleichim

Avrom Aryeh-Zuk Kahana

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Comments 14 comments

Bar 3 years ago

BH

Avrom to you,

May the Lord turn His Face to You and give you peace.

I understand your point

"The underlying question that some have overlooked is not whether we sacrifice or not sacrifice but rather how do we know what is God's unmutable command and in contrast, what does He permit to be changed"

There is very much said in those few sentences. Perhaps even more then all the Talmuds combined. What can be said or added? I am sad to say much pain has been stored lacking this very understanding. It is not the place of the Gibborim to speak the Kings mind. I will say this in answering your statement. What was locked is still locked, but what has changed is the Key, Those accustomed to entering have found themselves locked out with antiquated keys.

Ponder the number 777 is it by chance some have chosen this representation? Could they not see its fractal implications? Judging themselves in REALITY while thinking they sit in judgement of others in reality. ..........What more can be said? I am myself to immature still to speak on such things or address the direct solution to your statement. On this subject I quote our King of Righteous Struggle:

(lacks a lil ummph in roman letters but still addresss our point :)

33:1 Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, praise is comely for the upright.

33:2 Give thanks unto the Lord with harp, sing praises unto Him with the psaltery of ten strings.

33:3 Sing unto Him a new song; play skilfully amid shouts of joy.

33:4 For the word of the Lord is upright; and all His work is done in faithfulness.

33:5 He loveth righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

33:6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

33:7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as a heap; He layeth up the deeps in storehouses.

33:8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

33:9 For He spoke, and it was; He commanded, and it stood.

33:10 the Lord bringeth the counsel of the nations to nought; He maketh the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.

33:11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.

33:12 Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord; the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.

33:13 the Lord looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men;

33:14 From the place of His habitation He looketh intently upon all the inhabitants of the earth;

33:15 He that fashioneth the hearts of them all, that considereth all their doings.

33:16 A king is not saved by the multitude of a host; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength.

33:17 A horse is a vain thing for safety; neither doth it afford escape by its great strength.

33:18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is toward them that fear Him, toward them that wait for His mercy;

33:19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

33:20 Our soul hath waited for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

33:21 For in Him doth our heart rejoice, because we have trusted in His holy name.

33:22 Let Thy mercy, O the Lord, be upon us, according as we have waited for Thee.


Shiloh 3 years ago

BAR, you are right, we are being blinded to the unfolding. Many Jewish groups are attempting to manipulate the ending, not like we have never done this before. It, like the last 2000 years will end in disaster as Avrom states, but your idea's of the end result are accurate. It won't end with a return to the cultic blood bath.


Kahana profile image

Kahana 3 years ago Author

Shalom Bar, yes the argument is circular but of importance as you say. Until we can find a solution to the disagreements we cannot move forward. We are stuck as one might say constantly moving in this circular motion. The underlying question that some have overlooked is not whether we sacrifice or not sacrifice but rather how do we know what is God's unmutable command and in contrast, what does He permit to be changed. Until we know the answer we will continue to make mistake, after mistake, after mistake. What I have seen thus far is arguments that if we disagree, then the commandment could not have come from God, without any facts, justification or support to validate such an assumption. As I mentioned, before we can move forward we must be able to answer this question or we will be perpetually lost.


Bar 3 years ago

BH

Shiloh, Your name well chosen it appears. :) In your post you present both the Trunk and the Ax. One needs not the other, yet one was formed out of the need of the other . It is my observation this is much like the Kohen and the Sacrifice. That the Kohen are/have been lost in a circle of tradition since becoming sons of The Amorite and therefore the rest of the Nation as a whole (being dominated by their action) is obvious to anyone who casts an Eye on Temple Mount. The Shame of this is what blinds our brothers of this "class" into self- righteousness and the circle perpetuates the generations. It is my hope/prayer/ desire Avrom and his writings single an end to this bloodline curse. Will it be in our generation? It be As you say "God, haShem, Yehovah will identify whom he desires" This is absolute. That Geluah could be stopped is not the full view, what can be stopped is ones abilities to comprehend its unfolding

and the grave swallows ones body before the comprehension is returned.

Look about the nations are they all not being amassed into a collective of old? Does not something Hasmoneon keep showing itself? Who are these? From where did they fall? Of what need is the blood to them? Avrom like us all in this state is an unfinished work in final progress. I think it is good you hammer this point of culthood upon him and those reading not brave enough yet to enter into the conversations.

It is my understanding the time is not yet but all are on stage some even in full dress. Yet still needing some actors to recall their roles and exact lines. If ones "identity" wither its Karite,Hebraiac,Kohen, Rabbi etc etc can not withstand some speculation and questioning of its roots and origins and not exit stronger then it is ego based and is like all other things at this level an illusion needing receptive correction. The Holy House I see will not spill blood upon alters. It will not stone the few for the comfortable advancement of the majority. It well heal all needing the final corrections with LOVE. Until this is. We argue circles with those contained in its geometry.


Shiloh 3 years ago

Bar, your right, it is finished, it has been finished. The whole problem is the argument whether or not to reimpliment animal sacrifice. The rest of the articles we are very close to agreeing. I personally will walk away from any implementation of the sacrificial cult inserted into the Torah by the Priestly class. God, haShem, Yehovah, will identify whom He desires. Even Karaite Kohanim will really not be happy with it. Take it to the bank. Right now you are seeing a feeling out of people. There is a reason for Avroms articles, we have now found the area that will stop the geulah and take us all to the grave. It won't change and I will not bow to Avroms preasure. The rabbinates are right about the sacrifices in not needing them. Avrom cannot accept that and I cannot accept Avroms stance of the dire need of returning to the inserted practice not ordained by God. We are in a deadlock.


Bar 3 years ago

BH

Brothers,

Perhaps the time has come to admit the Truth fully to ourselves first and the nations later. This truth I speak of is simple. All things in life at this carbon based level are illusion, mere allegory. Everything. From the Golden Ratio to my DNA vibrating to yours, to the grass outside your door to the sky above your head. I know the seemingly complex problem in this discussion. I have had it myself once, long ago.

If we merit a Kofer who speaks wisdom, If we merit a Kohen who seeks the HIDDEN. Then I say we do not need wait much longer. The Crown is finished the head is not. Allegory. Of what need is blood spilled? Of what merit was it written? Of what Hand was restrained? Adding EL to the end of ones name makes one no more worthy, then draining the blood of an illusion. To speak plainly in this format is not an option forgive the riddle. Soon brothers, none will have need for riddle or allegory.


Kahana profile image

Kahana 3 years ago Author

Alan, it is like the chicken and the egg. The sacrifices existed long before the Ark. God commanded Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to perform them. We even have sacrifices performed by Abel in the Gan Eden. The sacrificial ceremony was performed not for the sake of the Ark but eventually the Ark was incorporated into the ceremony with blood sprinkled upon the seat or cover of the Ark. So if we follow the argument that until there is an Ark and a Temple then there can be no sacrifices, then we have also been derelict in our duty to rebuild the Temple and replace the Ark. There never was any such commandment as 'The Ark', the one and only. It was a box, with assembly instructions well laid out in the Torah. So well in fact that other Arks were built as my next article of the Journey unto Shiloh would have pointed out. As you say, we will never understand why God requires certain deeds to be performed. Ours is not to question Why but to obey. If we believe we need an Ark, even though as I have mentioned sacrifice existed long before one existed, then we build an Ark. If we need a Temple, then we build a Temple, though the Torah points out that the true congregational place was the Tabernacle which moved throughout the land. Fixing the location was a political implementation by David and did not follow the original plan. The key is 'To Do' rather than sit on our hands and bemoan the fact that we have done nothing!


Kahana profile image

Kahana 3 years ago Author

Alan, it is like the chicken and the egg. The sacrifices existed long before the Ark. God commanded Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to perform them. We even have sacrifices performed by Abel in the Gan Eden. The sacrificial ceremony was performed not for the sake of the Ark but eventually the Ark was incorporated into the ceremony with blood sprinkled upon the seat or cover of the Ark. So if we follow the argument that until there is an Ark and a Temple then there can be no sacrifices, then we have also been derelict in our duty to rebuild the Temple and replace the Ark. There never was any such commandment as 'The Ark', the one and only. It was a box, with assembly instructions well laid out in the Torah. So well in fact that other Arks were built as my next article of the Journey unto Shiloh would have pointed out. As you say, we will never understand why God requires certain deeds to be performed. Ours is not to question Why but to obey. If we believe we need an Ark, even though as I have mentioned sacrifice existed long before one existed, then we build an Ark. If we need a Temple, then we build a Temple, though the Torah points out that the true congregational place was the Tabernacle which moved throughout the land. Fixing the location was a political implementation by David and did not follow the original plan. The key is 'To Do' rather than sit on our hands and bemoan the fact that we have done nothing!


alanbedford 3 years ago

A few comments: it's true that we humans always try to humanize God. But we should realize that the gap of comprehension between God and humans is infinitely greater than the gap between humans and animals, so we should have the humility to recognize that the purposes and ways of God are simply beyond our understanding. In fact, the more we try to figure out what God "really wants" the more lost and confused we will become. Secondly, if I were to play the Devil's Advocate, I would say that sacrifice is no longer permitted because there is no Temple and no Ark. Moses stated in Deuteronomy that sacrifice should only be performed at the site to be designated as the permanent place for the Ark, which later became the Temple of Solomon. What is your opinion on that, Kahana?


Shiloh 3 years ago

Shalom Avrom, fatalistic approach I would say, I dont know if its that bad. But, and I mean but if we have errored in our ways since the time after Moshe, with Yehoshua there after, continuing even up until our massive screwup with Yeshua, that would certainly explain the reasons for our fate thus far. It also explains the anti semetism even moreso then blaming the Talmud. Remember Avrom, even if we screwed up, we still have promises and even the coming Mashiach would still be centered within the Jewish people.


Kahana profile image

Kahana 3 years ago Author

Of course one could argue that if we no longer follow the covenant, if we have changed everything to suit us because we have decided God did not intend to make his laws permanent, then we have truly set ourselves upon a false past and deserve what ever fate befalls us.


Shiloh 3 years ago

One more thought, at that time in history, a certainly barbaric society, some could argue we are still one, but what was probably needed an equal state of barbaric laws and rituals that that could begin the process of becoming a moral and just people. Today, hopefully we are spiritually mature enough to not return to those days of that brit, but to one that is provided in the near future, a new brit.


Shiloh 3 years ago

Avrom, being I am labelled as a heretic, a kofer, to me the 10 sayings or commandments where definately from God. The rest, well every ancient culture has similiar stories, ie Adam, Noah etc. For me, its not Divine writ, as is the Ten Commandments. Its lessons, some historical lessons, stories of Gods interaction in creating a humanistic society, giving us the lessons to further that, perfecting it and bringing the reality of heaven down to earth. Like your work in saving lives, making this planet a better place for humankind. To me this is what its about. I know the hell I will get, and have recieved in the past for this kind of thoughts and comments. We are all struggling if we will actually have the courage to admit it. The world is a tough neighborhood now. We need answers, the answers we need are for whats best, not for whos right.


Shiloh 3 years ago

Avrom, nice to see you questioning. I, like some Jews of old consider the Preists actually "writting in" the sacrificial system. I personally will never agree to reinstating them. Did your son expound on the rabbinical point of view that to take a people from barbaric practice to prayer would just be more then the psyche could take, thus gave a temporary transition tool of animal sacrifice? Also there are other sacrifices offered in the Temple, grain for example. Did Yehovah give the sacrifice as a command? I think a resounding no from the context of worldwide history to even passages in the Tanach which I wont repeat. What does Yehovah require then? Micah explains it. Again Avrom, I must remind you that Yehovah will identify a person publically, the damage it will cause that person will be immense when we ignore that person, and veto Yehovah, who we teach knows whats best for us. Truly Avrom, we don't think there is God who is actually involved with us, but choose to put all the anxiety, intense suffering on that one, by ignoring Yehovahs choice. And we think if we only returned to the sacrificial cult, everything would be fine. It wont, and we are truly sheep going to the slaughter.

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