A: First of all, the natural organic result of studying Twelve Tribe Torah is to become a "Jew for Yahweh!" And this is true for anyone who studies Twelve Tribe Torah no matter their denominational affiliation or religious commitment. The Holy Name of Yahweh is the most repressed element in translations of the Hebrew Scriptures and mainline Jews and Christians have both contributed to this occlusion of the most basic and important relationship in the Holy Torah (for more information on this topic, see the Fourth set of Twelve Tribe Torah CDs).
Second of all, the phrase "Jew for Jesus" itself is grossly misleading because it implies that no Jew could ever be for Jesus in any way shape or form and that is simply coming from a place of ignorance.
Take the Reform scholar and saint, Rabbi Leo Baeck, for an example. He passionately argued for a general reclamation of the Gospels. Read pages 98-102 in his book, written in Germany before WWII and then banned by the Nazis, Judaism and Christianity.
Rabbi Baeck writes about the Gospel in general in the following way: "Rather [the Gospel] is a Jewish book because - by all means and entirely because - the pure air of which it is full and which it breathes is that of the Holy Scriptures; because a Jewish spirit, and none other, lives in it; because Jewish faith and Jewish hope, Jewish suffering and Jewish distress, Jewish knowledge and Jewish expectations, and these alone, resound through it - a Jewish book in the midst of Jewish books. Judaism may not pass it by, nor mistake it, nor wish to give up all claims here. Here, too, Judaism should comprehend and take note of what is its own" (Baeck, Judaism and Christianity, page 102).
Rabbi Abraham Geiger, another giant in the German Reform movement, likewise studied the Gospel literature because he felt we needed to be informed, to understand the history, and to respond with wisdom on a theological level. All those reasons are eternally valid.
Another giant in the Jewish studies movement, this time the Conservative movement's great teacher, Solomon Schechter, also read the Gospels like any serious student of Jewish history would do. His specialty was a study of the role of the Karaite form of Judaism. This is a crucial point to understand because not only was the Karaite movement directly in opposition to the Rabbinic movement, the Karaite path of reading Scriptures permeates the Christian view of Biblical teachings. Jews who just read the Tanach as it is without the overlay of Rashi or Midrash get it. This is a powerful Scripture that stands on its own without all the intricacies of Midrash and Talmud and Commentaries. We need to encourage more and more Jews to read the Bible in a Karaite fashion, not hurl "Jew for Jesus" stones at those that do. The library of the Jewish Theological Seminary contains many rare Karaite manuscripts. However, few synagogue members know that or know anything about Karaite history!
More recently, rabbis and teachers in the United States have stepped up to the plate to confront our own deep prejudice, the politically correct bias against the Jewish teacher Jesus. This approach cannot stand up to any serious scrutiny and Jews must reclaim Jesus in a variety of ways compatible with our view of Jewish history and with our own worship of Yahweh.
One such teacher is Dr. Daniel Matt who is currently translating the Zohar in a fuller text form into English. He is not an ignorant man. This is what he has written in his recent book, God and the Big Bang: "I am not talking about what Jesus became -- Jesus Christ -- but rather about Yeshua, the impassioned rabbi who died for his visions of Judaism. Jesus was a Galilean hasid, someone passionately in love with God, drunk on the divine, unconventional and extreme in his devotion to God and to fellow human beings" (Matt, God and the Big Bang, page 157).
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi,
founder of the impressively creative and successful Jewish Renewal movement,
went even further and wrote a short but powerful chapter on the issue of the
Jewish view of Jesus. Read chapter four in his book Paradigm
Shift. If you still don't think we are going through a huge shift now,
just contemplate the gravity of the everyday news around the globe.
Here are a couple of quotes from Paradigm Shift: "He is the word that the Christian hears spoken of the Creator in the tongue of the man, the rebbe from Nazareth. His followers once named Nazarenes can now be seen by Jews as Nazarener Hasidim, and those who follow the Belzer are Belzer hasidim" (Schachter-Shalomi, Paradigm Shift, page 36). After explaining the Zohar's teaching about the Holy Name of YHWH as containing the Father, Mother, Son, and Daughter aspects of the Divine, "and,yes, the Ruach HaKodesh - the Holy Spirit. As long as we do not exclude other manifestations by declaring that there are only three, we have further room for dialogue and understanding."
Reb Zalman's concluding words light the way forward for all of us: "It then behooves the poor of the spirit of all creeds and denominations to support each other in the desperate acts of faith that we make in the face of the exile and the holocausts and enter into a dialogue among fellow servants and children of one Creator" (all from Schachter-Shalomi, Paradigm Shift, page 37).
Finally, new books on
the Jewish Jesus are emerging all the time and the scholarship is there to fully
support a variety of new views. One is Brother
Jesus: The Nazarene Through Jewish Eyes by Schalom Ben-Chorin; another
Through Jewish Eyes,
edited by Beatrice Bruteau. Consulting the Bibliography on this web
site will provide a solid reading list that forms a basis for Twelve
Tribe Torah study. The number of books on First Century Judaism
is now very impressive and makes the Twelve Tribe Torah study an
evolving process being updated with new discoveries as they happen.
We need to consider new voices on how to interpret Jesus within Jewish history and theology. Twelve Tribe Torah humbly presents a clear and powerful path cutting through the morass of prior ignorance. Twelve Tribe Torah 's assertions are supported by quotes and references to scholastically and theologically sound sources. If any conjecture is at hand, it is stated clearly to be such. We are confident that the basic teachings of Twelve Tribe Torah will stand the test of time and wars and challenges. Behind the CDs lie verifiable sources waiting for you, dear student, to explore.
A: No, it's not that at all. It is about reclaiming of periods of our Jewish history that we do not recognize as being relevant to the Jewish experience. It provides historical perspectives that illuminate the mission of Jewish people, a mission that is embodied in the Torah. This is crucial not only for a Jewish self-understanding but is crucial for Christians to understand the Torah that Jesus never rejected.
Jesus happens to be at the center of an historical period when Hellenistic Judaism began and flourished. In fact, Jesus was, to the embarrassment of perhaps both Jews and Christians, a very Jewish Jew! Another embarrassing fact is that there were three Jewish Gospels that were destroyed. History and theology go together. Reclamation of those three Jewish Gospels is an imperative beyond all others.
Twelve Tribe Torah seeks to reclaim the literature of the Hellenistic Jewish community. Members of that community wrote the Gospels. Paul was a Hebrew (codeword for Hellenistic Jew). That community wrote works of import, many of which predated the time of Jesus: Judith, Susanna, Maccabees, Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Enoch literature, the Testament literature, the works of Philo of Alexandria, the works of Josephus the historian.
Ghetto Judaism made a grave error in rejecting the path of Azariah de' Rossi, an Italian Jew, a doctor, scholar of the Talmud, who one day happened to discover the Hellenistic Jewish literature, a range of texts rejected by his own tradition. He argued for a reclamation not only of these works but also of the historical perspectives that were lost when these books were lost. The Reverend de' Rossi's own books were excommunicated by the Ghetto Jewish community and preventing the European Jewish community from moving into the light of historical knowledge.
That consciousness of healing the broken Jewish tradition through reclaiming these works, at least as sources of a history not recorded anywhere else, re-awoke hundreds of years later with giants like Abraham Geiger and Solomon Schechter. That same historical consciousness created the raison-d'etre for both Reform and Conservative Judaism. Today few recognize this important fact: that without knowing about and studying the Hellenistic Jewish literature we cannot understand who we are.
Failure to actively reclaim this identity and its literature amounts to a cultivating a lobotomy that has lead to a colossal failure of Torah education. So now, progressive Judaism is committing the same grave error as the Ghetto community did before us. Perhaps it is time for both branches of Judaism to move together in this reclamation and hopefully this will happen in the State of Israel where these streams come together both through history and current events.
A: Christians are thus far by far the biggest supporters of Twelve Tribe Torah. There are many reasons for this phenomenon.
Twelve Tribe Torah reclaims two periods of Jewish history crucial for the more complete understanding of our mutual Biblical heritage. One is the period of the Hellenistic Jewish culture from 300 BCE to 200 CE. The other period is the earliest period around the formation of the Torah, the Middle Eastern pagan world out of which the Torah grew. This is the world of the Middle East prior to the First Temple.
Christians cannot possibly understand the Torah, the original spiritual text of what later became known as Judaism, without understanding how this new knowledge radically reshapes our understanding of the Jewish traditions. Just reading the text is imperative (and unfortunately most Jews fail to take this number one step seriously) but respecting the twelve spiritual interpretations of the Torah is key to knowing Yahweh.
The Holy Spirit fills every line and word of the Torah. Knowing the context of the Torah helps us better understand the purposes of the Torah: to bring the Holy Spirit into everything we do and think, in this and all future worlds. Even the Names of God are illuminated by opening up to the knowledge of the ancient Near-East. One can study these in Seminary and still fail to get the deep meaning of how history and theology flow together in the Torah. So Christians will greatly benefit from catching up with 2,000 years of the ongoing evolution of Jewish interpretation. I could just say to you "so, go study the Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, and Kabbalah!" But the work of The Twelve Tribe Torah Institute gives both Jews and Christians a context, a scholastically sound framework for understanding the Torah for Her own sake.
A: You will understand that both the masculine and the feminine are important in the evolution of humankind and of our understanding of God. It should be obvious but it obviously isn't!
Basically, the earlier period will explain the most repressed level of religious history. We Jews worship the Father ("Avinu Malkeinu"), the earlier Catholics the Mother Mary, the Protestants the Son of God, so what happened to the Daughter?? There is no way to live by a holistic understanding of God when we continue to insist on denying any honor to the Daughter aspect of God. There is no way a family is complete when one member is consciously excluded and this is true on the reality level as well as on the archetypal level.
The teaching of the Zohar (excerpted from page 27b and thanks to Reb Zalman for this awesome teaching) is that the four letters of the Holy Name YHWH are really connoting Father, Mother, Son, and Daughter Aspects (called "Partzufim" in Hellenistic Hebrew, meaning faces from the Greek word "Prosopone") of the Divine. This teaching now comes scintillatingly clear through the Twelve Tribe Torah approach to the Bible and Tanach. For it is only through our modern day understanding of ancient Near Eastern religiions and especially the Ugaritic-NW Canaanite theology, that our Biblical use of many Names of the Divine becomes clear.
Simply put, the reclamation of Ancient Near Eastern knowledge helps us better understand that the worship of Yahweh Elohim and Yahweh Tsebaoth was a deep integration of the best of pagan traditions into a new unity. One could even say that the Torah is a monotheistic paganism rooted in ethical and historical consciousness. It is absurd to say that the Torah denigrates or negates paganism for the Torah rather transforms the heritage of our ancients.
How important is this study? Material paganism has once again raised its ugly head generating urgent needs not clear before our times. I'd say we are talking about a study of existential proportion.
"Ta Sh'ma!" Come hear these ancient teachings in a new way because The Twelve Tribe Torah Institute is fearlessly embracing the most modern knowledge Yah has given us through wisdom and knowledge! Again, the basic approach of the Twelve Tribe Torah Institute is to fuse scientific and religious knowledge. They are one as Yahweh's name is one.
A :Remember that Kabbalah is one of the Twelve Tribes of Yah! It is not obvious at the beginning but this is a major point of Twelve Tribe Torah! While The Twelve Tribe Torah Institute does not try to teach all of Kabbalah, there must be a clear understanding of two Kabbalistic teachings. In Kabbalah there are archetypes that are found in the Tanach or Hebrew Bible itself. These teachings are often lost on the non-Hebrew reader of the Bible.
So The Twelve Tribe Torah Institute focuses just on two major Kabbalistic teachings: one is the teaching of the Twelve Tribes itself of course and the other is the Four Letter Name of God in the Torah. The Kabbalah herself is from the Daughter Aspect (Partsuf) of God.
In reclaiming the history of 2,000 years ago, we are reclaiming not only the Daughter, but also the entire Holy Family of God. Remember that Earthperson ("Adam") was created in the Image of God. If we are raised in a family, which is holistically represented by "Father, Mother, Son, Daughter," then the key for protecting the integrity of this family is through our emulation and worship of the Holy Family of God.
Knowing God as a verb is the deepest relationship with the Living God of Eternity, mediated by the Torah and taught to the Twelve Tribes of Israel. No other religion teaches this and no other religion is as feared and persecuted as the religion of Torah!
There is no way that God's Name (YHWH) is the "Lord" in Hebrew. Yes, Adonai can mean "the Lord," but YHWH cannot translate or be overlaid by the Name "Lord." Yahweh is a verb and this revelation to the Prophet Moses takes us way beyond Humankind's rejections and fears into a new redemption. The Daughter represents all we fear, the unconscious, our sins untransformed. The last thing we want to do is to reject the Daughter Aspect of God. Knowing that Yahweh's Holy Name is most sacred becomes clear through the study of the Mandala.