Showing posts from March, 2016

A classroom lecture: On the Jewish people, Torah, Talmud and Yeshua

The Law and the Jewish people
A lecture given to the law students at Charles Darwin University

By Bob Mendelsohn
30 March 2016
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Introduction: We long for justice
We watch the news on the television and at times we get upset, almost angry. I remember the 1976 movie Network with that once-Aussie actor Peter Finch, who won the academy award for his acting, albeit posthumously. He played a news presenter who went manic with Faye Dunaway as his producer. He was upset by the injustice in the world and screamed, and had people across the US screaming out their windows, “I'm mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” (Full speech in note)

Pop culture, which highlights injustice, abounds with movie scenes from Norma Rae (1979), where Sally Field’s character is a young single mother and textile worker who agrees to help unionize her mill despite the problems and dangers involved. We cheer for her when she stands on a tab…

The oven of Achnai and how to make laws, or not

I’ve been researching Jewish people and Law for years, and this week I’m scheduled to give a lecture at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Northern Territory on the matter. In preparation for the study of civil laws, I was re-reading Bava Metzia, a section of Gemara I’ve had for years (Thanks Costco!) and found the story of the Oven of Achnai so typical of the banter/ argument/ liveliness of Talmudic debate, I had to investigate further.
So where do you look? The internet of course. And here’s a write up (and the translation is spot on from the Steinsaltz Edition I have in hand.)

The story of the oven is an illustration which is prompted by conversation about men who should be honouring their wife, lest he bring dishonour (impurity) to her (and thus to himself). That is found in 59a. (See endnote for this text) [or simply visit this website: ]

This then from someone who goes by the screen name: seqram.
“The oven of Achnai:
“It is not in Heaven”
Part of a verse from the Bible…

2016: The year without an Easter

The airplane took off to the south quite normally, in fact smoothly, like a hot knife through butter, beginning the 23-hour journey to the land Down Under. My speaking tour in Houston, Texas had finished the night before, and all I had to do was some shipping of materials and final post office visit, then I was ready. The Thrifty rental lady drove me back to the airport, check in was seamless, and I was on my way home. No rain; no weather to speak of, and a great feeling of satisfaction. Traveling is fairly easy for me, although there are weeks when I feel it a little more than other times. Turning 64 might be some of the cause of that one.

I get to visit the US several times a year, to San Francisco and points beyond, for meetings, for family visits, to preach and teach, and anything else I can make into such a trip. So this was not exceptional in any regard. I do remember my first visit to Australia, and that trip was exceptional.

The first time was 1995. Patty, my wife, was wi…

Three Days? Three nights? How does that work?

The questions come from a Bible verse, Yeshua said, "For just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12.40) And the question gets asked every Easter. When did Jesus really die? And when did he really rise from the dead?

This might help explain how this works. Clearly whatever day Yeshua died (and I believe it was a Friday), the exact 72 hours calculation will never work. He died in the afternoon, and rose before morning.

During an online debate with Christians about the above Scripture verse, an unlikely contributor to the debate showed us something that I'd heard before, but had never seen proven. Joe Zias, ex-curator of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, and a Jewish man who does NOT believe that Jesus rose from the dead or is the Messiah, nevertheless weighed in with a post about the idiomatic

Easter Messages... theirs and mine

I watched Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Easter message today. Although it begins with recognition of the Easter holiday on Sunday for most of the Christians of Australia (Orthodox Christians will celebrate on 1 May), the real message sounded more like a public service announcement for the NRMA or the RACV. Four times he uses the verb to drive and encourages us to drive-- defensively, carefully, and take breaks often enough that we actually arrive to see family and friends. Even if we run late. I appreciate his care for road safety, but for an Easter message, it was pretty weak.

Turnbull says the weekend is a time of "new life, hope and renewal" for Christians. And immediately switches to the secular notion of Easter egg hunts and chocolate overload. Then to be political, and that's not wrong for a PM, he boasts about our multiculturalism's success here.

I like what Australia's Anglican leader Philip Freier said in his Easter message to r…

Can the underdog win? NCAA and Easter.

It's that time of year in the US. They call it "March Madness" and it has to do with basketball. University basketball is thrilling, as thousands of young people stand and scream the full 60 minutes of action. This is finals b-ball, and the top 64 teams in the country vie for dominance, ending with the Final Four. Those teams will play in the finals on the first weekend of April in Houston, Texas. The tournament is a single-elimination affair with 16 teams in each of four divisions. The number one in each division plays the 16; 2 plays the 15; and so forth. Those rankings are decided by experts over the last few weeks of the regular season and finalised the Sunday before the tournament begins. It began this week.

Surprises are common as a team will get up over the predicted winner and the crowd will go wild. Such was the case yesterday and today as Yale beat Baylor, Stephen F Austin beat West Virginia, Hawaii beat California. And more are forthcoming.

Some outside the…

Not reading... therefore... US primaries?

This article "don't read" from 9 March is scary. The clarity of the diminishing of the reading, not the capacity to read, but actual reading itself, brings to light so much about the Republican race for the White House and other locations in the US elections. I've been wondering, since I have not met a single Trump supporter, not one, and yet I've been in many places in the US since September last year. Why are there so many people voting for the Donald, people who should know better. He's not a "very good Christian' as he said in the papal criticism. In fact, I've never met a very good Christian who alleges that of themselves as Donald did. On top of that he's a misogynist in speaking about any of his wives, or Megan Kelly or so many women not only in politics, but just about anyone female.

Honestly I don't get it.

I am embarrassed that he demeans people relentlessly, like Marco Rubio whom the Donald calls "Little Marco." Who…