Israel 2016: Different Shades of Right

bfb161018-trip-north

Today we traveled to the Far North.  In a place like Texas that would mean a whole day’s journey.  In Israel it means about three hours in holiday traffic.

Our destination was a place the rest of the world calls an “occupied territory”.  I call it one of the most beautiful and captivating places I have ever seen.  The Golan Heights really are high, rising abruptly from the Jordan Valley in a very short distance.  It was not the first great change in elevation during this journey.  Coming down from Jerusalem to Route 6 along the coastal plain is enough of a descent to cause one’s ears to pop.  The same thing happens once the traveler passes the Horns of Hattin (subject of a future blog post) and descends to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee.  Then the process happens in reverse on the ascent from the sea to the northern hills, and down again to the Jordan before ascending one final time to the Golan.

A word about these famous biblical bodies of water:  I was not prepared to find the Sea of Galilee to be so tiny.  Comparatively speaking, that is.  Neither was I expecting the Jordan River to be smaller than a McAlpine Creek back home in Charlotte.  Such great things happened around both over the last 5,000 years that I expected something a bit more majestic.  Then again, Israel is a land of tremendous contrast.  The truly great things are the small and humble things, while the big and powerful things often turn out to be woefully inadequate (remember Goliath?).

But I digress.  This is a post about the town of קצרין.

For those who cannot read Hebrew, there is some difficulty explaining exactly where we were.  This town is the capital of the Golan, so one would think that its name in English would have some kind of standard transliteration.  Oddly enough, it does not.  On the road map we were using, on the road signs we passed, and even on the web sites I have checked to verify what I am relating, the name is given in a number of different ways, such as:

Qatsrin

Qatzrin

Katsrin

Katzerin

Katzrin

Even the official website of Israel’s Ministry of Tourism spells the name two different ways!

bfb161018-qatsrin-signWhat are we to make of this?  I suggest it is an illustration of the difference between Greek and Hebrew thinking.  The Greek way would establish one right answer for spelling the name in English.  Every other spelling would be wrong.  In Hebraic thinking, however, there are multiple ways to convey the truth that this particular place is the town we want to visit in the Golan.  The sounds of the two syllables (well, three if one is Southern and drawls) are close enough to the Hebrew in each of the transliterations given above to ensure that the traveler can get to the right place.  Thus there can be many versions of “right” in Hebraic thought.

What, then, is “wrong” in Hebraic thought?  Ah, that would be trying to spell the town’s name as something like Woebegone, Bora Bora, or Cascabell.  Clearly they are wrong in many ways.  How do we know?  Because the sounds rendered in the spoken Hebrew tell us we want a place that sounds like “Cat’s Ring”, so something that sounds like Bora Bora is right out.

This lesson was reinforced in the fellowship we enjoyed with some amazing Jewish Israeli friends in their Sukkah at Qatsrin.  It seems that there are many ways to live out the truth of YHVH’s Word.  The ultimate wrong answer is not opening that Word and letting it soak into the heart and soul.  However, there is a wrong answer that is almost as bad, and that is insisting that one’s own narrow interpretation is the only truth.

For he who is not against us is for us.  (Mark 9:40 NASB)


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Building A Torah Community

Does building a Hebrew Roots community mean moving to the country, shunning electricity, and growing beards like the stereotypical Amish?  Not necessarily, but it does mean association in close proximity with like-minded believers.  (Picture:  Amish Family wallpaper, widehdwalls.com)
Does building a Hebrew Roots community mean moving to the country, shunning electricity, and growing beards like the stereotypical Amish? Not necessarily, but it does mean association in close proximity with like-minded believers. (Picture: Amish Family wallpaper, widehdwalls.com)

Five hundred years ago, in the midst of the great Reformation that gave birth to the various sects of Protestant Christianity, like-minded believers began to seek out one another in the interest of living according to their understanding of God’s instructions from the Bible.  Many, if not most, of these sects found refuge in America, forming the communities we know as Puritan, Separatist (Pilgrim), Quaker, Mennonite, Moravian, Amish, and many others.  In the pre-modern world bereft of electricity, mass communications, and rapid transit, the communities these believers formed often took shape around existing communities where families and congregations began to take advantage of the new translations of the Bible in their native languages.  In time these communities attracted like-minded believers from near and far, bringing growth in population, wealth, and influence to such places as Geneva, Holland, New England, and Pennsylvania.

It would seem that a similar phenomenon is happening today.  The Lord is restoring to His people a Hebraic understanding of the Scriptures which has been obscured for many centuries.  This is the time anticipated by the Prophet Daniel, when many run to and fro and knowledge is increased (Daniel 12:4).  Like the Protestant Reformation, the Torah Awakening is creating a desire among Messianic and Hebrew Roots believers to establish communities where they can associate with like-minded people and live according to their understanding of the Scriptures.  Yet the very aspects which have facilitated the Torah Awakening in this post-modern age are the things that make it more difficult to establish communities.  Here in the West we are well-connected by social media and instantaneous communication which permit us to share ideas with fellow believers across continental distances.  This is a blessing, but it is not a community.  Often it is easier to connect with someone 1,000 miles away than to find fellow Torah-observant disciples of Yeshua in the same county.  When we do find these brethren relatively nearby, what are we to do?  Shall we buy land in common and live in the same house?  Shall we establish a business or a farm together and contribute to our common welfare?  What examples do we have from Scripture, and how has human history and recent experience shaped our understanding of these examples?

These are things we must understand if we are to come together as a nation.  As noted on this blog and elsewhere, this process begins in the local community.  But exactly how do we build these local communities? 

Fortunately, someone who has traveled this path of faith is willing to share his experience.  Zach Bauer of New2Torah recently released a video teaching in which he discusses the subject of a Torah-observant community.  He starts with the example of the community Yeshua’s disciples built according to the book of Acts (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37), examining this record in the context of Torah principles.  Along the way he shares some practical lessons on what to do and what not to do.  For those who are considering seriously how to associate more closely with like-minded Hebrew Roots believers, Zach’s teaching is an excellent starting point.

Click here to see Building a Torah Community.
Click here to see Building a Torah Community.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2015.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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