Posts Tagged 'covenant'
Category: Issues Volume 01 Number 06
Published on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 12:24
Written by Susan Perlman
Part of being a Jewish male involves entering the covenant through circumcision on the eighth day of life.
My father had three daughters and, therefore, never had the opportunity to have a bris" and say the words:
"Blessed art thou O Lord, King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments and hast enjoined us to make him enter the covenant of Abraham our father."
Likewise, the relatives couldn't respond with:
"As he hath been made to enter the covenant, so may he also be made to enter the study of Torah, the huppah, and the performance of good deeds."
Yes, I was just a girl—no bris, no bar mitzvah, none of the ceremonies he held so dear. Yet I, too, was given the birthright of my people. If my father were alive today, I could tell him that I did enter the study of Torah, God's holy book. And through my searchings, I, too, can bless the Lord God of Israel who "hast enjoined me to enter into His covenant"—the Promised Covenant:
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
No longer need circumcision be just an outward sign.
"Just Think of it Harry—Not Even Marcus Welby Can Perform OPEN HEART CIRCUMCISION—Only God."
Category: Issues Volume 02 Number 04
Published on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 12:24
Written by Jean Zeller
The If" of the Covenant is contained in the call to obedience.
The "Then" of the Covenant is contained in God's intention to bless.
The "If" of the fulfillment is contained in the "I will" of obedience.
The "Then" of the fulfillment is the blessing received: known in the gift of The Land, the Presence in the midst, the plenitude of joy found in family, in labor, in prosperity and peace.
There is a dark side of the Covenant. It is the "If" of disobedience. If a man stands in contempt of the Power that wills to bless, whose promise was once accepted and whose blessing was once claimed, he has violated the terms of the agreement, but the contract still stands.
The "Then" of disobedience is the wrath of God, the consuming fire of the Holy. God cannot remain God and countenance sin in those He has betrothed to Himself. God's holiness reconciles the goodness of God with the contingency of blessing. The God of the Covenant is known equally in blessing and cursing.
The God of Israel took away Temple, priest and sacrifice. Yet out of His steadfast love which endures forever He Himself became both priest and sacrifice and He makes a temple of all who dwell in Him.
There is still an "if," a choice of obedience or disobedience, and a "then" that carries a promise of either blessing or cursing. "Today, if you will hear His voice, [then] harden not your hearts."
Category: Issues Volume 02 Number 08
Published on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 12:24
Written by Ceil Rosen
You're going to stick that baby with a needle?" My voice must have betrayed my initial shock and dismay. This was my week-old grandson we were discussing! I listened to the softspoken young man as he competently and calmly described the brief ceremony he was about to conduct. He assured me the needle would be carefully sterilized, and after a split-second pin prick to draw just one drop of blood, I would have the honor of placing anti-bacterial ointment and a band-aid on my new grandson's tiny heel. I was not at all sure I could handle it. Then I reminded myself that my daughter and son-in-law as parents were even more emotionally involved than I; and they had chosen this rite to affirm their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Long before little Asher was born, his parents, Lyn and Alan, had decided that if they had a boy, they would have him circumcised on the eighth day, confirming him as the physical seed of Abraham. After his birth at a Jewish hospital, they were amazed and disappointed that the medical staff was unsympathetic to their desire for a traditional eighth-day Jewish bris. "Modern parents usually prefer to have it done here in the nursery just before mother and child are discharged," they were advised. "Once he leaves here, you can't bring him back to the newborn nursery. He'd have to go to the emergency room because we don't have facilities for such a ritual." Since the emergency room was hardly a fitting place for family and friends to gather for a religious ceremony, Lyn and Alan were faced with a problem. They knew that even though Judaism decrees that anyone born of a Jewish mother is a Jew, probably no mohel would perform a bris for the baby of Jewish believers in Jesus who were committed to raise their child in that same faith. They had two alternatives: They could try to find a doctor who would come to their house on the eighth day, a Sunday; or they would have the medical procedure performed by a doctor in the hospital nursery and plan a religious ceremony at home four days later. Since doctors in their area generally don't make house calls, especially not on weekends, they settled for the hospital circumcision.
The new parents then made plans for the religious service and a small party at home, and they chose a close friend, also a Jewish believer in the Messiah, to perform the ceremony. From careful research at the Jewish library, this young man learned that at times it was permissable under extenuating circumstances to circumcise a child at a time other than on the eighth day. However, on the eighth day there must be a token shedding of blood as a sign of the covenant, thus the pricking of the infant's heel.
At the appointed hour, family and friends gathered, and the ceremony began with songs and prayers of thanksgiving. Baby Asher slept on a colorful pillow on his proud grandfather's lap, and I stood by with my tube of ointment and a band-aid. When the moment arrived, I winced as the officiant drew that small drop of blood, but the baby hardly stirred. During the service the young parents both affirmed their gratitude for this precious gift from God and their desire to raise him to know and honor the God of Israel. We all joined in prayers and expressions of gratitude that God had called our Father Abraham and had made a special covenant with him and his seed forever. And while we rejoiced that as Jews we were physically included in a special relationship to the God of
Abraham, we also acknowledged God's command that we be related to him spiritually as well, through the New Covenant foretold by the prophet Jeremiah:
"'The time is coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant…This is the covenant I will make…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people…they will all know me…For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.'" (Jer. 31:31-34)
As I sat there at my grandson's bris, I thanked God for that new covenant whereby all people, including those who are not physically related to Abraham, can have a special relationship with Abraham's God. I thought of the One who spoke of that new covenant at His last Passover seder when He lifted the wine cup and said:
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matt. 26:28)
He was the promised Messiah, who reconciles all men to God by the covenant in His own blood. He will come back to earth one day to rule on King David's throne. Then God will complete His answer to this prayer from the sidbur, spoken at the end of a bris service:
"May the All-Merciful, regardful of the merit of them that are akin by the blood of the circumcision, send us his anointed (Messiah) walking in his integrity, to give good tidings and consolations to the people that is scattered and dispersed among the peoples. May the All-Merciful send us the righteous priest, who remains withdrawn in concealment until a throne, bright as the sun, and radiant as the diamond, shall be prepared for him, the prophet who covered his face with his mantle and wrapped himself therein, with whom is God's covenant of life and of peace."
As I look back on the events of that important day in our family's history, I remember my pain at seeing just one drop of that precious baby's blood spilled. Then I recall with sadness and humility what it must have cost God, my heavenly Father, to allow the Messiah to bleed and die as the atonement for the sins of the whole world. I also remember and rejoice in God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3:
"…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Through the blood of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, God has made it possible for all people who accept His atonement to have forgiveness of sin and a new relatiohship with Him. Thus He has fulfilled His promise to Abraham.
A close look at assimilation and what it means to be committed to Jewish survival.