Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kosher For Passover

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Exodus 12:15 gives additional dietary instructions for Passover and the Feast of Matzah.
For seven days you are to eat matzah — on the first day remove the leaven from your houses. For whoever eats hametz [leavened bread] from the first to the seventh day is to be cut off from Israel.”

Hametz or chametz is often translated as “leaven” but that is misleading. Yeast should not be eaten during Passover but baking soda and powder are not expressly prohibited. Hametz refers to specific grains that have come into contact with water. It is related to chometz, meaning vinegar, and chamutz meaning sour. Meaning fermented grain products and items made with grain should not be consumed during Passover and the week of the Feast of Matzah.
The grains to avoid are:

Some choose also to avoid grains such as rice and corn during Passover, but that is not required by the Torah.

Obviously wheat makes it way into lots of products. Here's what should be avoided during Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Bread, croissants, biscuits
Flour tortillas
Pasta and noodles
Breakfast cereals such as Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran, etc.
Baked goods with flour such as cookies, muffins, cake, etc.
Vinegar. Unless specified as apple cider or wine vinegar, vinegar is made from wheat. Watch out for vinegar in condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressings, salsa, soy sauce, and pickled vegetables, including pickles and olives. 
Barley - barley soup or barley risotto
Oats and oatmeal
Also watch out for oatmeal in soaps and bath products. I also use vinegar as a rinse aid in the dishwasher and fabric softener in laundry. Don't do this during Passover.

That can definitely sound overwhelming but we there are still plenty of things that you can eat. Such as:

Any fresh vegetables
Any fresh fruits
Any kosher meat or fish
Dairy - yogurt, cheese, milk, butter, sour cream, etc.
Corn tortillas
Gluten free cornbread
Gluten free soy sauce, also called tamari
Salad dressings made with balsamic or apple cider vinegar
Ice cream
Desserts like cheesecake, creme brulee, flourless chocolate cake, and macaroons

Meal ideas:
Beef or chicken fajitas with corn tortillas, black beans, guacamole, and onions and bell peppers
Stir fried broccoli, carrots, cabbage, peppers, etc. over fried rice with tamari
Baked salmon with roasted butternut squash and spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette
Scrambled eggs with peppers and goat cheese served with matzah
Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese
Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce
Coconut curried vegetables over rice
Lettuce salad topped with chicken breast, hardboiled eggs, nuts, carrots, tomatoes, etc. and salad dressing from apple cider or wine vinegar
Peppers stuffed with quinoa, cheese, kale, and onions
Roasted chicken or turkey with lentils and mushroom sauce
Chili with cornbread
Lots of soups: black bean, vegetable, lentil, potato cheese, etc.
Fruit smoothies
Apples with peanut butter
Celery with peanut butter
Carrots with hummus
Yogurt with fruit or jam
Trail mix with mixed nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate chips

Exodus 15:17-19 explains that the Festival of Matzah is an ongoing instruction that should be celebrated by every generation of YHWH’s people. Matzah doesn’t have to be the only thing we eat but it does say in verse 18 that we should eat it, so have some each day.

Have a wonderful Feast of Unleavened Bread!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Summary of the Torah

A summary is a shortened, condensed version of something. A summary of Lord of the Rings would be, "Good and evil collide in a quest to destroy the ring of power." Obviously, there is more to the story, as roughly half a million words in the books and twelve hours of film attest to. But still not a bad description for a mere thirteen words.

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Recently Galatians 5:14 was given to me as a reason for not keeping Torah. It says:

The whole of the Torah is summed up in one sentence: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

The person elaborated that if he simply 'loved his neighbor' he would be keeping the general idea of the Torah without being bothered with the technicalities of specific instructions.

If Peter Jackson had chosen to base the Lord of the Rings movies solely on the summary of the books, "Good and evil collide in a quest to destroy the ring of power," his films would undoubtedly have very little in common with the original story penned by JRR Tolkien. Aragorn and Gandalf and the Shire would have been left out. The battles fought would have been different. The ring would have been destroyed by ten female dwarves. Sure, he might have made a good vs. evil movie, but it wouldn't be Lord of the Rings. Thankfully, Jackson and his team opted to base the films on the whole of the books and not just a simple summary. Otherwise it would have been impossible to accurately portray the story as told in the book.

The Torah is filled with specific instructions. This takes out the guess work for us. How do we actually love our neighbors? The Torah commands us not sleep with their husband/wife, to return lost property to the owner, to pay our workers on time, and to treat litigants equally in court, among other things. We don't have to stop there, but can we love our neighbors if we aren't following these instructions?

If we love our neighbors we will treat them the way the Torah instructs.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Upside Down: Purim

If you have heard the Purim Song by The Maccabeats, you may have noticed the phrase, "v'nahafoch hu" which means, "It was turned upside down." This is from Esther 9:1 which is usually translated as, "The opposite happened." This promise is echoed in Romans 8:28 that YHWH will work all things together for the good of those who love Him."

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If you are new to celebrating Purim the book of Esther supplies some ideas.

1. Read the book of Esther. Traditional Megillah readings are very fun and interactive. Noisemakers are used to cover up the sound of Haman. You can use finger puppets to tell the story or have children act it out. It is only ten chapters long and easy to read.

2. Share gifts of food. You can give anything you like from traditional Hamantashen cookies to cookie dough to fruit baskets. This comes from Esther 9:22.

3. Gift giving to the poor, is instructed in 9:22 but the method is not specified. Purim is a great day to help a family in need, invite someone for a meal, or donate to charity.

4. Celebrate with a festive meal, the entire story is filled with banquets and the Queen threw two herself to expose Haman's wicked plan to King Ahasuerus.

I grew up watching the Hanna Barbera The Greatest Adventure: Stories From the Bible series, so one tradition we have is watching the Queen Esther episode. There are several movies of Esther, and a few of them are free to watch on Youtube.

Want more ideas? Stop by my Purim page on Pinterst for free printables, place settings, and my all-time favorite Hamantashen recipe!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Queen Ordered a Holiday: Why I Celebrate Purim

Esther was beautiful and she was brave. She also created a holiday. Purim. Also known as the Festival or the Feast of Lots.

Most tellings of the story leave that out. The story usually ends with the king’s order for Haman to be hanged or sometimes with Mordechai issuing the decree that the Jews can fight back and successfully defended themselves from their assailants. But that’s only seven or eight chapters out of ten. There’s more.

Esther 9:32: “At the queen’s order these matters of Purim were confirmed and put in writing.”

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Letters were sent to all the Jews in every part of her kingdom instructing them to observe Purim every year. The 14th or 15th of Adar was a day that turned sorrow into gladness a few thousand year ago. They were to be days of rejoicing and celebration, and they were to give to the poor and send portions of food to each other.

Esther 9:27-28 says, “The Jews resolved and took it upon themselves, their descendants, and all who might join them that without fail they would observe those two days in accordance to what was written in this letter and at the appointed time, every year; and that these days would be remembered and observed throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and that these days of Purim would never cease or their memory be lost.”

Purim (named for the lots or pur Haman cast to decide the date of destruction) is the real genius of Esther.

Until she announced it in chapter seven, Queen Esther had successfully hidden her heritage. I learn something new about Kate Middleton with every visit to the grocery store; don’t think Esther wasn’t subject to the same public scrutiny and gossip. But no one had any idea! This tells us that she probably wasn’t closely adhering to the Torah.

YHWH repeatedly calls his people to be set-apart. In societies not following the Torah it should be plainly evident that we are. It seems this was largely forgotten in ancient Persia. Queen Esther created a holiday that called them back to YHWH. A party to bring people back to YHWH. Thousands of years after her death, Esther’s holiday is being celebrated and millions rejoice that once again YHWH saved his people.

I believe she made Purim so fun—filled with presents, and wonderful food, and kindness to others, and joy—because she had undoubtedly seen many of her people walk away from the instructions of YHWH in the Torah. It must have crossed her mind that people would stray away. But who doesn’t want to eat cookies and receive presents? Esther has given every one of us an invitation to return to YHWH’s ways, and it happens year after year.

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I'm not Jewish but I love taking part in the festivities. Esther 9:27 says, “all who will ally with the Jews” should celebrate. Galatians 3:28 reminds us that, “In union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one.” Celebrating is one way to support the Jewish people.  With modern day Persia (Iran) repeatedly threatening the state of Israel, isn't it wonderful to be reminded of YHWH’s saving hand?

 I'd love to hear why you celebrate Purim or your favorite traditions!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Free Purim Printable

Add this fun printable to your home to get celebrate Purim! It is free for your personal use. :)

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Purim starts right after Shabbat this week at sundown on March 15 and lasts until Sunday at dark.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Hebrew Holidays - Free Printable

Did you know that YHWH created festivals and told us to celebrate them "forever"? Leviticus 23 details the celebrations of Passover, Shavuot (you may have heard it called Pentecost), Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah--the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur--The Day of Atonement, Sukkot or the Festival of Tabernacles, and Simchat Torah. Leviticus 23:14 and 31, describes them as a "permanent regulation."

Describing the Millennial Kingdom Zechariah 14:16 says, "Everyone remaining from all the nations that came to attack Jerusalem will go up every year to worship the King, YHWH Tzva'ot, and to keep the festival of Sukkot."

Though Purim and Hanukkah are not mandated by YHWH, they are wonderful celebrations of His saving acts for His people. The book of Esther chronicles the original celebration of Purim to commemorate the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation under evil Haman of the Persian Empire. Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication celebrates the recovery and re-dedication of the Temple, as told in the Book of Maccabees. Maccabees 1--4 were part of the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest Bible manuscript in existence.

Since the Gregorian calendar and the Hebrew calendar don't mesh perfectly, the festivals fall on different days of the year, according to the Gregorian calendar. Download this printable to keep track of the upcoming holidays! It's free for your personal use!

HebrewHolidays2014-AliyahLife photo hebrewholidays1_zps5580003d.jpg

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From Genesis/Bereshit 1:5 Biblical days are sundown to sundown ("There was evening and there was morning.") rather than morning to evening. That means Purim starts March 15 at dusk and goes until it is dark on March 16.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

If You Love Him

Yeshua said if we loved him, we would keep his commands. In his day, there were no 'New Testament' writings, there was only the Tanakh. Yeshua is YHWH manifest in human form, so we know that all of the words in the Torah are His. What exactly are his commandments?

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The Torah has 613 mitzvot or instructions for our lives. They cover subjects from loans to agriculture to sexuality to personal beliefs of YHWH to the Temple. Of the mitzvot, 221 commandments are regarding the Beit Hamikdash. Since mankind has been without the Temple for nearly 2,000 years, that leaves us with 392 commands. Of these, 74 are person specific—regarding only men or only women, widows, judges, or even kings—and not applicable to some. There are eight instructions for those keeping a Nazarite vow, and thus, are voluntary.
Most Christians already keep around 200-275 of YHWH’s commandments given in the Torah. Things like honoring your parents, giving money to the poor, not stealing or defrauding, not speaking slander, and serving YHWH are part of the Torah. Andrew Gabriel Roth believes that many Christians are already observing 2/3 to almost 90% of the Torah!
The commandments most Christians don’t honor mainly regard diet, Shabbat, and YHWH’s cycles of festivals—eating, resting, and celebrating. That doesn’t seem impossibly difficult or legalistic, does it?
When Yeshua said we should keep his commandments if we love him, he didn't mean we should just try our best to be reasonably okay people. He meant we should celebrate Passover and Rosh Hashanah. We shouldn’t work or go shopping on the seventh day of the week. He meant that if we, in fact, love him we wouldn't eat bacon or shellfish.

Each day is a new opportunity to learn his instructions and follow them. Do you love Him?
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