Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, May 2, 2021
Counting the Omer – Day 29
Here is the proper blessing to be said each day. This is how Jewish people fulfill the command to count.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav, Vitzivanu Al Sefirat Ha-Omer.
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his commandments and commanded us about counting the counting of the Omer. Today is four weeks and one day of the counting of the Omer.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 2 May-2021 20th of Iyar, 5781
Le 25:1-18 Jer 4 Job 24 (Mt 24:1-28) Ro 5
“I’m From the Government, and I’m Here to Collect Your Guns” – Part 2
by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: America seems to be caught in an epidemic of gun violence. Some politicians believe this problem can be solved by gun confiscation. Many gun owners have dug in their heels, explaining to those who would take their guns how they can get the guns, as Charlton Heston (actor, NRA president) said in a speech in 2000: “… From my cold, dead hands!”
Raymond Trail: “Cold, dead hands” has become a watchword for those who pledge not to relinquish their guns to governmental authorities. Another vow of defiance quotes a Greek phrase, molon labe. Molon labe (Greek: μολὼν λαβέ), translating to “Come and take them [our weapons].” Molon labe was reported by Plutarch as the reply of King Leonidas I to the demand of Xerxes I that the Spartans surrender their weapons on the evening before the Battle of Thermopylae. End RT.
MEASURES TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY IN ADDITION TO OWNING A GUN: Benjamin Franklin is credited with this well-known sage advice: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the context of this RR, the best way to avoid harm from a bad guy is to minimize or eliminate contact with the bad guy. Commonsense prevention (keep the bad guy away) is superior to remedying the danger once encountered (shoot the bad guy). No one wants to be put in danger by an armed criminal nor does he/ she want to harm anyone (including an armed criminal).
I mentioned in the first part of this RR a very few (a sample) of many safety measures you may consider to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation. These suggestions are only starters. You will need to consider many more. To achieve any level of safety, you will need to spend hours reading, searching for/ eliminating dangers, educating family members, and so forth. Is it worth spending this amount of time to make your family safer? The answer to this question can best be had by answering another question: Which is more valuable to you– watching television, playing golf, etc., or keeping your family safe and alive? We all have time. The question is, will you spend it or invest it?
I could write several RRs about safety tips and not cover them all, but consider:
● Review numerous websites which teach teach security measures, such as:
□ Personal security tips: https://modernsurvivalblog.com/security/35-personal-security-tips-when-out-and-about/
□ Safety tips when driving an automobile: https://www.nationwide.com/resources/auto-insurance/articles/driving-safety-tips
□ Safe driving tips for seniors: https://seniordriving.aaa.com/tag/safe-driving-tips/
□ Many, many more Websites offering good safety suggestions can be found with a search engine. Be inquisitive and look for them. Adonai’s warning to Beni-Yisrael is still relevant to us in this topic (Hosea 4:6a): “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge….”
● If you choose to own a gun:
□ See a brief review of Tennessee’s gun laws: https://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/state-gun-laws/tennessee/ . But, you need to conduct an in-depth study, if you carry/ use a gun because laws can be tricky to unravel.
□ Do you know how to store and operate a gun properly and safely? “I didn’t know the gun was loaded” and “Gee, officer, I didn’t know little Johnnie knew where I hid the gun” are lame excuses, better never to come from your lips. Qualified instructors are available to teach you.
□ Have you secured the gun against being handled or taken by an unauthorized person (burglar; child or minor; person with mental issues– depression, suicidal thoughts, rage/ anger management issues, antisocial personality disorders; and anyone else who might pose a danger to him-/ her-self or others)?
□ I again emphasize: Do you know the laws of Tennessee and any other state or federal property in which you plan to carry the weapon? There may not be reciprocity in other jurisdictions (states, federal properties) with Tennessee’s constitutional carry (permitless) gun carry law, which becomes effective July 1, 2021. And, of course, you cannot carry a weapon on an airplane no matter what Tennessee law states.
● Avoid danger whenever possible:
□ Do you take care when you are out of the home? (Certain times of the day– late evening, early morning– are more dangerous. Certain locations– bars in seedy parts of town, certain neighborhoods– are also more dangerous. And so forth.)
□ If you work a night shift, do you insist that your employer provide an escort (preferably a police officer or guard) to walk you safely to your parked vehicle?
□ When you walk or jog, do you have at least one “buddy” who accompanies you? (A woman walking alone past a dense shrub or parked van can be whisked out of sight with no one noticing.)
□ Are you extremely cautious when entering your automobile parked in a dark or deserted parking lot?
● The best way to find a problem is to look for it. Before retirement, I served for many years as chairman of two Blount Memorial Hospital committees– Infection Control and Safety Committees– and I also prepared for the multiple national and state safety/ quality compliance inspections required for the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department I directed. I spent hours each week reviewing procedures, regulations, and so forth to be sure we maintained our certifications/ accreditations intact. A major part of our compliance involved employee/ patient safety. I learned that the only way to find deficiencies is by personal, visual, walk-around, peek-in-nooks-crannies inspections. I would lead our committees through different hospital departments to conduct on-site inspections. Inspections cannot be conducted by a committee seated around a conference table (or by you, seated at the kitchen table). You will need to conduct on-site inspections to find lapses in home safety preparations. For example, if you are blessed with a toddler in your home, what dangerous chemicals might this inquisitive baby find under your kitchen sink cabinet? Or, how accessible is 110-volt electrical current to him/ her? (I hope you never have to see what happens when a teething infant chews on an electrical extension cord.) You and other older child/ adult family members should search diligently to find any home safety preparation breaches. These inspections take time, but they may save the life of you or a family member.
● Conduct a security check of the exterior of your home. Do not look at your home as a proud homeowner, but look at it as an intruder. Walk around your home and look at it from different angles (from the street, the driveway, the vacant next-door lot, and so forth). Look at your home at nighttime (if safe to do so), as well as during the daylight hours.
□ Study your home with a single thought in mind: If you would want to break into your home and harm its inhabitants, what would you do, and when would you do it? Where are weaknesses in this home’s security you would exploit?
□ Do you need to trim bushes near the home to minimize hiding places for a criminal lying in wait for an ambush or preparing for a home invasion?
□ Do you need to install motion-sensing security lights? (The lights can come on at night, before you get out of your car to enter your home. We installed these very inexpensive lights and are entertained by a surprisingly large number of tomcats, raccoons, rabbits, opossums, and other wildlife species which pass by the front of our home every night. Have we seen any intruders? No, but a bright light flashing on at an intruder’s approach would probably frighten him away.)
□ In case of a fire, do all family members know how to evacuate various parts of the home safely? Has careful thought been given to evacuation of difficult-to-access rooms (bedrooms, bonus play rooms, basements, etc.)? Who will be responsible to evacuate small children? (Small children easily become confused and panic in a fire and may seek shelter in a place that seems safe to them– hiding out-of-sight in a kitchen cabinet, for example, but their “safe” hiding place shields them from an adult’s sight. I served for many years as Blount County medical examiner, and I have sadly had cases of young children who died in house fires because they panicked and sought a “safe place” which was the best their little minds could imagine. I did not have to speak to many distraught parents to know I never wanted this to happen to my child or grandchild.) Do you have a safe rendezvous spot to be able to determine rapidly and accurately if all family members are safe? Such information helps the firefighters immensely. They approach a house fire differently, if they know whether people are trapped inside or are safely outside of the home. Losing a home to fire is tragic, but not nearly as tragic as losing a family member’s life.
Incidentally, a mobile home can be completely engulfed in a roaring fire within a very few minutes. Rapid, efficient evacuation is essential. A smoldering fire can kill sleeping people with carbon monoxide, without ever awakening them. Rather, they just continue sleeping more deeply. Reverting to my old medical practice life: Hemoglobin in your red blood cells has an affinity (chemical attraction) for carbon monoxide 240 times greater than for oxygen. Even small amounts of carbon monoxide in breathable air can displace (block) hemoglobin’s binding sites for oxygen. The take-away information is: Functioning alarms save lives!
□ Do you need to install closed-circuit television cameras to cover parts of your yard, driveway, or walkway? (These devices are becoming more affordable and can be self-installed. It might be helpful to see who is knocking on your front door before you actually open the door.)
□ If you have a swimming pool, is inappropriate entry securely barred for your family’s children and neighbors’ children?
● Conduct a security check of the interior of your home.
□ Have you installed home security alarms (burglar alarms) to detect hostile motion– motion due to an intruder? (Some alarm systems can be self-installed.)
□ Do all family members, including children of sufficient age to understand the need for security, understand safety procedures? Do you practice safety drills (such as, fire evacuation drills from different rooms of the house)?
□ Do family members, of sufficient age, know how and when to call 911?
□ Do you have functioning fire extinguishers mounted? Do family members know when– and when not to– use fire extinguishers?
□ Is your home appropriately protected with smoke/ fire and carbon monoxide detectors? Have units been replaced, if necessary? (A detector has a time limit– an expiration date– and an aging detector should be replaced when that limit is nearing its useful life span.) Have batteries been replaced to keep them fully operative? (Follow manufacturer’s recommendations.)
□ Do you have a designated safe room? (A safe room may be more useful for protection against a tornado than protection from an intruder.)
□ Concerning tornadoes and other storms, do you have means to receive NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather alerts? NOAA does an excellent job notifying citizens of storm watches and warnings. (Do all family members know the difference between a weather advisory, watch, and warning?)
□ If you own a gun (guns), is it (are they) properly, safely stored to prevent access by persons who should not operate firearms?
● Every reader of this RR lives in a unique home. Concerning safety, your home and my home differ in security weaknesses and strengths. I cannot tell you how you should make your home safer any more than you can tell me how I should make my home safer. But, I can encourage you to think about ways you can protect yourself and your family. And, I can assure you that this is time well spent. It is far superior to protect yourself and your family against injury or death than to experience injury or death.
● Many resources for you to consider are found on the Internet. Some useful resources may include the following:
□ General emergency preparedness resources: https://www.epactnetwork.com/corp/blog/top-20-emergency-preparedness-resources/
□ Emergency preparedness for disabled persons: https://adata.org/emergency-preparedness
□ Building an emergency preparedness kit: https://www.ready.gov/kit
□ Disaster, emergency preparedness: https://www.ready.gov
□ Fire safety: https://www.ready.gov/home-fires
□ Weather watches, warnings, advisories: https://www.alerts/weather.gov/cap/us.php?x=1
□ Weather conditions, forecasts: https://www.weather.gov
□ As you perform home safety inspections, questions may arise. You may find answers to these questions through the Internet (search engines will put you in contact with a wealth of information). And, your local law-enforcement or fire-fighting agencies will probably assist you by answering questions and, perhaps, even conducting an on-site inspection of your home at your request.
● AND SO FORTH. The Internet is filled with many safety ideas. If interested in other safety tips, you can use a search engine as well as I can.
□ Read. Learn what experts advise for your home and lifestyle. I cannot cover all available information in this RR.
□ Observe. What in the lifestyle of your family or in your home is dangerous? Only an on-site inspection will reveal issues which should be corrected. You may be able to correct some problems. You may need others to correct problems (example: replacing old-style electrical outlets in certain areas of an older home with safer ground fault circuit interrupter [GFCI] electrical outlets.)
□ Think. Think like a criminal seeking to do harm to your home or family. How can you thwart him?
□ Plan. With your family’s input, plan ways to make your home and your out-of-home activities safer. Lives– your life and lives off your family– may depend on the corrective actions and planning you accomplish now. It is too late to resolve a safety issue when an actual emergency arises.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT THIS ISSUE? In any gun control discussion, the Ten Commandments are automatically invoked, especially Exodus 20:13, KJV: [And God spake] “Thou shalt not kill.” This King James Version (KJV) translation is poorly rendered. The Hebrew phrase for this commandment is rāṣaḥ (רָצַח). A better translation, as shown in versions more modern than the KJV, is: “You shall not murder.” It may not be a sin to kill humans under certain conditions– self-defense; accident; war; capital executions; and so forth. This commandment (“do not murder”) likely applies to premeditated murder (although grossly negligent homicide– such as, killing someone while driving an automobile under the influence of alcohol– may not get a pass from God). With regard to the taking of human life, American law makes virtually the same distinction as God’s law. We Americans may say “first degree murder” more often than “premeditated murder.”
Both the Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah have many references to weapons of types appropriate for the time these documents were written. Some Scriptures admonish us to possess a weapon for defense. Other Scriptures admonish us not to use a weapon to take a life intentionally (not to commit premeditated murder) and to seek peaceful resolution of disputes. On balance, Yeshua, who came as the Prince of Peace, stressed love, harmony, and peace. He seemed to only approve of the use of force in extreme situations. A sample of Scriptures includes:
● Exodus 22:1– Adonai approved protection of the home: [God spoke] “If a thief found breaking in is struck so that he dies, there is no bloodguilt for him.”
● 1 Samuel 25:13– It has always been approved for God’s people to defend themselves, such as: David said to his men, “Everyone buckle on your sword!” So each man buckled on his sword and David also buckled on his sword. About 400 men went up following David,…. [And many other references.]
● Nehemiah 4:15-17– The Israelites found it necessary to defend themselves against their enemies, as they rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls: So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from dawn until the stars came out. Also at that time I said to the people, “Let every man and his helper lodge inside Jerusalem, so they can be guards for us by night and workers by day.” So neither I, nor my brothers, nor my workers, nor the guards who were with me took off our clothes; each man even had his weapon at the water.
● Psalm 18:35– David credited Adonai for his warrior skills: [Adonai] trains my hands for battle, so my arms can bend a bronze bow.
● Psalm 144:1– David blessed Adonai for training his arm for battle: Blessed be Adonai my Rock– who trains my hands for war, fingers for battle.
● Luke 22:36b– Yeshua instructed His disciples to be armed: [Yeshua said] “… And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy [a sword].”
● Romans 12:14-21– the Apostle Paul also taught the peaceful life: Bless those who persecute you– bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be proud, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Repay no one evil for evil; give thought to what is good in the eyes of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in shalom with all people. Never take your own revenge, loved ones, but give room for God’s wrath– for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” says Adonai. Rather, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For by doing so you will heap coals of fire upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
● 1 Timothy 5:8– The Believer is instructed to provide for his/ her family; provision of a safe home would seem to be implied: But if anyone does not provide for his own, especially those in his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
There are, of course, many more verses counseling peace and love. There is no doubt that Yeshua desires us to live in harmony with our neighbors and to avoid conflict, if possible. I try to avoid confrontation, to seek peaceful resolution to disagreements, and to live in harmony with my neighbors, whenever possible. I am fortunate to live in a relatively peaceful community (Maryville, Blount County). I have known some unfortunate, unpleasant people who seem to live to stir up trouble, and you probably have also known such people. I find a perk of growing old is that I can avoid confrontational people. My wife (whose temperament matches mine) and I live a serene life. We are blessed. Yeshua told us these things (His Drash on the Mountain, Matthew 5:5, 7, 9, 10-12): “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. |…| Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. |…| Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. |…| Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great! For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
SIDELIGHT: Confusion exists among many Jews and Believers/ Christians about the nature of HaMashiach (The Messiah, in Hebrew) or ho Christos (The Christ, in Greek). The Suffering Servant chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah, chapter 53) promotes the confusion. We interpret Scriptures that God promised one Messiah coming twice– a peaceful Messiah, whom the rabbis called HaMashiach ben Josef (The Messiah, Son of Joseph, this Joseph being the son of Jacob and Rachel, not Mary’s betrothed husband), and a second warrior-king Messiah, whom the rabbis called HaMashiach ben David (The Messiah, Son of David). Believers/ Christians, having benefited from the B’rit Chadashah, believe one Messiah was ordained to come twice. He first came a little more than two-thousand years ago as the Prince of Peace Messiah (“son of Joseph”); He will come again at the end of the Tribulation as the Warrior King Messiah (“son of David”).
Many people still picture only a smiling Yeshua, who plays all day with little children and lambs. The Apostle John saw Yeshua during His earthly ministry and he saw Him again during his vision on the Isle of Patmos (Book of Revelation). In Revelation, Chapter 19, John saw Yeshua as a Warrior King, by such observations as: He rides a white horse [the long-standing symbol of a powerful, conquering king] (Rev. 19:11)… He makes war in righteousness (Rev. 19:11)… He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13)… the armies of heaven followed Him (Rev. 19:14)… From His mouth comes a sharp sword, that He may strike down the nations (Rev. 19:15)… He shall rule with an iron rod, He treads the winepress of furious wrath (Rev. 19:15)… the Antichrist’s followers are slain by Yeshua (Rev. 19:21). In other words, when humans fail to heed the gentle, persuasive voice of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, they will be dispatched with the fury of Yeshua, the King of kings and Lord of lords. END sidelight.
I apologize for rambling, but there is so much that we need to consider to keep our families safe. Because of my rambling, I have not presented this information well. You can find the information, though, as well as I can write it. Be safe! Be well! Live your life in joy and serenity!
The Apostle Paul warned that times would be perilous in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1): But understand this, that in the last days hard times will come…. Protect your loved ones during these “hard times” by making their home and their world as safe as possible. Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.