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Volume 1, Issue 2

Covenant Connection

Kislev 5766, December 2005

From the Desk of Michael Dallen

Happy Holidays!sd

Wishing you the best in this Winter Solstice season - the shortest day of the year has just come and gone (to our friends in the antipodes, in Australia and southern Africa, we wish you the best in this Summer Solstice season)!

We have some important material for you below. About the new course we're taking, about Universal Law crimes and what we mean to do about them, about Hanukah and the solar New Year and Christmas, and other news - and views. We also have a wonderful piece of literature here, something that encapsulates who and what we are.

This is, of course, the start of the new solar year. Later, coming up at the end of this week, billions of people all over the globe will be celebrating the events connected to the birthday anniversary of a Jewish boy in the land of Israel, more than two thousand years ago. Eight days later, as Israel reckons the days (each evening starts the new day), the world's common calendar will change and we will be in 2006.

Besides being the anniversary of Jesus' bris or b'rit - or circumcision ("the Anniversary of the Circumcision of the Lord," as it's marked on many Christian calendars) - January 1st is, of course, the New Year. B'rit means "covenant" in Hebrew. (When Israel speaks of a newborn boy's bris or b'rit, it's referring to the covenant of Abraham (Genesis 17). By undergoing a proper circumcision, the boy enters the covenant of Abraham.) So even in our neon and diode-lit busy world today, even the calendar begins with a commandment of Torah and a covenant between God and mankind.

Of course, as we who read this know, God's covenant with Abraham isn't the First Covenant. Long before Abraham, there was the Noahide or Rainbow Covenant.

Did you know?
Besides contributing the birthday boy himself, the people of Israel have made considerable contributions to Christmas:

Christmas Songs Written by Jewish People

Christmas Song - Mel Torme
White Christmas - Irving Berlin
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Johnny Marks
The Grinch that Stole Christmas - Albert Hague
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow - Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne
Silver Bells - Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
(Credit Noahides for Silent Night, probably the best Christmas song)



Jesus, his family and friends would have celebrated Hanukah (Chanuka - there's no one accepted English spelling) starting on the evening following the first day of the new week: the evening of Sunday, December 25th. Hanukah is an eight-day freedom festival, lasting up until the evening of January 2d this year. Hanukah commemorates the miracles and wonders that saved Israel during the Greco-Syrian war against the Jews. The word hanukah means dedication. The central miracle of Hanukah is connected to the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 139 B.C.E (Before the Common Era). Lighting the Temple menorah (lamp) with the only jar of oil there that the pagans hadn't defiled, a one-day suppply, the oil burned until more pure oil came - it burned not just for one 24-hour period but for 192 hours, 8 days! Besides that miracle, Hanukah evokes the 20-year long war that the mighty Greco-Syrian Empire, the followers of Zeus, Diana, Athena and other false gods, waged against those who follow God.

They tried to stamp out Israel's religion, and the people of Israel along with it. Their mercenary armies outnumbered the Jewish fighters by about 20 to 1. But Israel, with God's help, won the fight. The Greco-Syrian Empire soon paraded into oblivion. So did their gods. Who today worships Zeus, or Athena?

That desperate, long war's history is set out, more or less, in the two Books of Maccabees, which can be easily found in any Catholic Bible. Written by Jews (like most but not all of the works that constitute the Christian Scripture), they make up part of the Apocrypha. At the same time, the Talmud discusses Hanukah in detail. Flavius Josephus, from about 130 C.E. (Common Era), also gives us a colorful history of the war.

Hanukah is a holiday that the Rabbis and Sages of Israel enjoined upon the Jewish people. But everyone of every nation may join Israel in celebrating it. Eventually, we believe, everyone will. It is truly a great, fun, festival of freedom - freedom and liberty thanks to God, under God.


News and Views

We have begun a new initiative. If you go to our website - we are still the Rainbow Covenant Foundation, we just have a new name - you will see the homepage beginning: "Whether you consider yourself Christian or Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Confucist, atheist, agnostic or whatever, your Creator Himself calls you to His service, to keep His first and foremost covenant - for your good and the world's good."

A Roman Catholic priest, Aime' Palliere', wrote one of the great Noahide books, The Unknown Sanctuary. It's all about his discovery of the First Covenant and his dedication to keeping the Noahide laws. So we ask: How could an active Roman Catholic priest, who believes in the Christian Trinity and conducts masses in Roman churches, be a true Noahide? Because he kept the Noahide laws. Not only that, he kept them because he recognized and affirmed that they come from God Himself; that they make up part of the Torah entrusted to Israel by God.

One day, the prophets tell us, all mankind will truly "know God" by His Name. We will all pray to Him and only Him, and we will appreciate His oneness. In the meantime, the Noahide Law prohibits avodah zorah (in Hebrew), or strange worship. It's true that some rites that have historically been associated with Catholicism certainly do violate that prohibition - burning Jews and other non-believers at the stake, for instance, in the name of God, flagellation ("holy" self-inflicted whipping), crucifixions, castration, crawling over broken glass, and many other kinds of awful things, ad nauseum (Latin: "to the point of causing nausea," which indeed is what we're speaking about here). But those were things that Fr. Palliere' rejected too - things that practically all Cathlics today consider to be contrary to Catholicism.

Many things that would be idolatry and would be punished capitally by a (hypothetical) Torah court if a Jewish person were to do them do not amount to avodah zorah.

If I (a Jewish man) or a Noahide who came to recognize that one can and should pray directly to God (and only to God, and avoid any service on behalf of any physical concept of God) were to worship any material "manifestation" of God or gods, we would be doing wrong. It would be a moving away, a retreat, from God. It would be such a serious offense for me, a Jew, that the Torah prescribes capital punishment.

While a Noahide has much greater freedom than a Jewish person in this respect (think of the Syrian Noahide called Na'aman and the prophet Elisha, and "bowing in the House of Rimon," 2 Kings 5:18), God still wants us to come to Him, and come to Him directly. But someone who subscribes to another spiritual communion, who does think of God or some aspect of Him in material terms - as a son, as a (human) father, as an elephant-headed man-like being (the Hindu god Ganesh), as a human woman - can do so, apparently, and not violate the "strange worship" prohibition. Only if that worship veers into something lewd or oppressive or disgusting or hurtful does it certainly violate the universal prohibition. At that point, it becomes dangerous to society (even as larceny or murder endanger society) and society needs to act to try to put a stop to it.

As for me, I apologize for everything I've ever written that may seem to contradict anything in the paragraph above. In The Rainbow Covenant, I set out the anti-idolatry law that apply to Noahides in the land of Israel in the Messianic Age. That law is essentially the same as Israel's law, the Torah. The standard it sets is one of strict, complete monotheism. But one need not be a strict monotheist to be a good person, one of the righteous of the nations. It helps, we believe, and in fact we believe that it helps tremendously. But it's not an absolute requisite. One can worship no god or many gods and still keep the Noahide Law. A kind and loving Baptist, a kind and loving Hindu, a kind and loving Catholic, or atheist, or agnostic - to the extent that they are indeed kind and loving and keep the full Noahide Law, they can expect to enjoy a wonderful place at God's table.

The Torah commentary in the Artscroll Chumash (the Hebrew-English Five Books of Moses with haftoras - related readings from the Bible's other books), the one called the Stone Chumash, speaks about this.

When Abraham sends his servant Eliezar to Charan, back to Abraham's relatives, rather than let Isaac marry a women from the Cana'anites, the editor writes:

"[T]he rejection of the Canaanites could not have been based on their idol worship, because Abraham's family in Charan worshipped idols as well. Rather, Abraham was motivated by the moral degeneracy of the Canaanites. Idolatry is an intellectual perversion, and as such it can be remedied, but a lack of morality, ethics and modesty afects a person's entire nature, and disqualifies a woman from being the mate of an Isaac." (Genesis 24:3, original commentary by R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, drawing from Ran, R' Nissim ben Ruvein.)

So, while this may not be the most enticing welcome to people who worship Ganesh, or Jesus, or no god or gods, it is definitely a sincere welcome. We all need to keep the basic laws, that laws that - if people violate them - degrade the world. What about the the endless lewdness that disfigures our culture after it "mainstreamed" male homosexuality, for instance? The dignified and lawful worship of Buddhists, Catholics, etc., doesn't hurt us. What does hurt us, the things that make us ashamed of belonging to the human race, are the clear-cut violations of the Universal Law. Murder, larceny, official corruption, adultery, incest, accepting suicides and casual abortions as normal, lawlessness and oppression - those sorts of things. They are the enemy.


We have a terrific piece of literature from a lovely Noahide lady below and we need to make space for it. But I have to speak of one very ugly thing beforehand, a Universal Law matter. It was something I saw on TV. The program 60 Minutes showed shark fisherman harvesting sharks to help feed the exploding demand for shark finsoup. The soup sells for about US $100 a bowl, each bowl with a shark fin in it, and hundreds of millions of Chinese believe that it has aphrodisiacal (love potion) properties. As China grows richer, more and more Chinese are ordering it.

Entire species of sharks are being fished into extinction to satisfy the demand, according to 60 Minutes. How do they harvest the fins? Horribly, with unbelievable cruelty.

This is not for the squeamish. It was hard to watch, even on TV. The hunters hoisted the sharks up to the desk of a big ocean trawler with hooks and ropes. (Please keep in mind that the shark is not a kosher animal - it has fins but no scales; unlike kosher fish - and it doesn't go into shock when lifted out of the water like a fish does. Instead, it remains conscious and aware, like a catfish (another non-kosher animal) or a crab.) The shark harvesters then proceed to slice the shark's fins off. When they've got all the fins, they dump the shark - bleeding, with gaping holes where the fins were - back into the sea to die. Obviously, unless the shark has the good luck to be immediately eaten alive, dying will be long, drawn-out and painful. The shark harvesters don't care. They just want those fins.

A ship has only so much deck space and the meat on the shark carcass isn't nearly as valuable as the fins. Still, the fisherman will occasionally take parts of the carcasses - generally without bothering to kill the creatures first - and sell the meat. One hears that the meat isn't particularly good but, since it's chewy, it's often sold as "scallops." So, if you are a Noahide or non-observant Jew who eats scallops, watch out. The seafood on your plate might well have been torn from a living animal.

These are the sorts of things that the Universal Law directly addresses and condemns. These are the sorts of things that this foundation is devoted to ending. And this, I believe, is how we all - all mankind - will bring our species closer to God.


More News

In other news, we have applied to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for IRS 501 (c) status as a tax-exempt educational or religious charitable organization. When and if we qualify for that status - the professionals involved with this suggest that it's more a matter of when than if, and God bless them if they're right - donors will be able to contribute to our work and then deduct the value of the donation from their own taxes.

If you aren't already subscribed to our e-mail discussion list, please consider subscribing. If you aren't already subscribed to the Noahide_Prayer_Resource_Center, another discussion list, please consider subscribing to that, too. Just click on the links on the website. You can get to the website by putting any of these names in your internet browser: www.1stCovenant.org, 1stCovenant.com, TheRainbowCovenant.org, TheRainbowCovenant.com, and RainbowCovenant.org. None of these addresses is case-sensitive so please don't worry about capitalization.

"The Rainbow of Promise," below," was written by a lovely Noahide lady and submitted by her daughter, another lovely Noahide lady. When it arrived, completely unexpectedly, it brightened our lives immediately. It's a terrific piece.


The Rainbow of Promise


Dorthey LaQuey West (copyright 2005)

There is nothing more beautiful than a rainbow.

It takes rain and sunshine to make it so.

God placed it in the clouds above,

a sign that shows the world His love.

He made a covenant with all mankind, for the past, present and future times.

He promised never again by flood to destroy the earth.

Take heed, teach your children this from birth,

That we should follow the laws God laid down while there is time to turn our lives around.

A righteous conduct exalteth a nation.

A moral code He gave for a foundation.

The precepts consist of all of these:

we all need to practice equality,

forbidding blaspheming, idolatry and immorality,

cruelty to animals, murder and robbery.

Every nation came from Noah's three sons,

So that includes each and every one.

Learn these laws and you will see

what God had in mind for all humanity.

New Logo Design

By Larry Rogers
(c) 2005, First Covenant

Our thanks to those who have contributed to our Newsletter!

We look forward to continuing participation in this newsletter from our members and readers.

To make submissions please E-mail Pam Rogers:

PR @ 1stcovenant.org

Quote of the Month

Mankind cannot rise to the essential principles on which society must rest unless it meets with Israel. And Israel cannot fathom the depths of its own national and religious tradition unless it meets with mankind. - Rabbi Elijah Benamozegh (Israel and Humanity, c. 1914)

New First Covenant Links

Join us in the 1st Covenant Foundation On-Line Forum for the latest current events, prayer request updates, discussions,and study group information.

We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name. Amen

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