Rebuttal #1 to Reason #1 (Part One)

SPECIAL NOTE: This post was originally written in 2008; however, I am bringing it out as a commenter recommended this book as a good response to Christian missionaries. Actually, this book is not very well written and is easily debunked; however, I am taking the time to bring it back out for discussion. 

We are finally able to begin posting a rebuttal to Asher Norman’s Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus.  We had to go through several posts on prefatory materials (see earlier posts).  However, and for now, we will look at each reason given by Norman along with a brief response to him.  Because of space, a full and detailed response is not possible; however, and because of the desire to keep each post a manageable read, some of the rebuttals to the reasons will require two or three parts.

Norman’s “First Reason” is his argument that Christianity and Judaism are not compatible and that faith in Jesus is not “completed” Judaism. I would like to begin my response with the following statement:

Before I get into his argument phase for his reason, I would like to point out two or three important things to consider.  First, if one fails to consider the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) roots of the Christian faith then our faith is shallow.  Believers in Jesus cannot have a faith in Jesus without seeing His fulfillment of Tanakh prophecies, feasts, etc.  Second, the phrase “completed Jew” is an unfortunate phrase and I believe that Norman is reacting to it.  You will never see this blog use that phrase except to contradict its argument.  Jewish believers in Jesus are not more Jewish than anyone else; however, they are not as Norman will argue less Jewish.  They are simple Jewish people who believe in the truth of Messiah Jesus.

Okay?!  Now for Norman’s arguments for Reason #1 (along with a brief rebuttal):

  • Norman argues that the Jewish Bible provides the case that Jewish people are bound by the 613 Torah Laws while Gentiles are responsible to abide by the Noahide Covenant.

First, I would like to ask him where this is stated in the Hebrew Scriptures (OT).  Norman makes a lot of claims but never validates his arguments with Scriptures.  Second, as has already been shown in previous posts it is impossible for Gentile Christians to follow the Noahide Covenant because we affirm the truth that Jesus is God the Son or the Son of God (take your pick!).  Therefore, if Norman truly believed this statement should he not be leading out the call to Christendom to abandon this faith instead of allowing us to follow what he sees as heresy.  Because, and the third reason, the Jewish people were called in Isaiah 42 to be a light to the nations and to bring the truth of God to the rest of the world.  Their failure to do so is one of the root causes for the Babylonian Captivity.  Scripture contradicts Norman’s argument as well as logical reasoning.

  • Norman also argues that there is no sense of the Messiah coming to die for the sins of the people and that faith in this belief is silly.

Have to give credit to Norman on this cleverly worded paragraph.  He focuses on Messiah ben David (2nd Coming of Jesus) and neglects the ancient intertestamental arguments that Messiah ben Joseph (1st Coming) would come to be a sacrificial servant — Isaiah 53 — for the people.  BTW, this argument of Messiah ben Joseph was prevalent until the time of Rambam and Rashi.

Regarding the issue of faith.  Norman fails to consider the arguments of Habbakuk 2:4 and Hosea 6:6.  Habbakuk reminds us that the righteous will live by faith but Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.  Therefore, the faith that we can have is not through our own merits but through the righteousness of God himself.  A righteousness that is impossible for humanity to achieve without the sacrifice of someone greater than ourselves.  Furthermore, our efforts at sacrifice and holiness don’t cut it as Hosea 6:6 reminds us.  We can put on a good show of fidelity but God knows the heart and it is wicked without the sacrificial gift of Messiah Jesus on the cross and His triumphant resurrection.

Part two of Rebuttal #1 will deal with the writer’s incomplete understanding of Sin, the Torah, and a good definition of God.  FYI — This might be a long series!

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Hanukkah … The First Night

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.  The three blessings have been uttered as the Shamesh candle was lit and the first candle of this eight day festival was kindled.

Hanukkah tells the story of how the priestly family known as the Maccabees overcame the evil machinations of Antiochus Epiphanes and cleansed the Temple of his attempts to establish worship to himself (sound like Daniel 7 and double fulfillment?).

However, the real, fulfillment story of Hanukkah occurred about 200 years after the 168 BCE rebellion.  The real story of Hanukkah finalizes in John 10:22-31 as a carpenter’s son from Nazareth strolls through the Temple porches until he is stopped by a crowd who are wanting to ask him one simple question …

Are you the Messiah?

 Jesus’ answered them with a response that was beyond their wildest expectations …

I and my Father are one.

For you see, the crowd was wanting a physical Messiah who would release them from Roman oppression.  Jesus was offering them eternal and spiritual deliverance from the true enemy … Satan himself.

The real story of Hanukkah is realized by seeing that Jesus is both Messiah and God himself.  The real story of Hanukkah is finalized when Messiah Jesus took on the role of the Messiah ben Joseph concept in order that one day He could return as Messiah ben David.  The real story of Hanukkah is completed when physical, spiritual and eternal deliverance is seen through the light of the world  — Jesus the Messiah — who came to bright light and hope and eternity to the whole world … but first to His Chosen Ones, the nation of Israel.

Who Killed Jesus? The Elephant in the Room Question…

The previous post referred to the fact that Jesus appears to be the elephant in the room for Jewish people.  They struggle with what to do with the man and Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.  To admit that he is Messiah is to be forced to confront 2,000 years of regret and loss.  Truly, a tragedy of eternal proportions.

However, this tragedy is exacerbated by the anti-Semitic and anti-Christian lie that has been perpetuated since the days of Augustine and John Chrysostom and continues even today that the Jewish people are responsible for the death of Jesus.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And “people” from a cultic church in Kansas holding signs such as the one to the left will not make this lie a reality.  Therefore, this post will seek to answer once and for all both the physical, moral, and spiritual aspect of the ultimate “elephant in the room” question — who killed Jesus?

Physical Aspect of the Question

A few days ago I was handed an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) booklet entitled Confronting Anti-Semitism.  The booklet does a commendable job of answering the physical aspect of the question, while misunderstanding one moral aspect of the issue, which will be answered later in this post.

The ADL points out accurately that crucifixion was a Roman invention intended for victims of the Roman empire and was carried out by Roman soldiers.  It was Roman soldiers who flogged Jesus.  It was Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross.  It was Roman soldiers who physically crucified the Jewish carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth.  And regardless of the lies told by racists and false Christians, the truth is the physical action of crucifixion was done by soldiers loyal to the Emperor of Rome.

Moral Aspect of the Question

The ADL’s booklet sought to answer a very delicate question in a very careful way.  I understand their reticence and appreciate their willingness to even broach the “elephant” question.  However, to assert that Jesus did not commit a capital crime according to Jewish law is not quite correct.

For if Jesus was/is not the Messiah than His claims of being not only Messiah but also God (John 8:58; 10:30-31; Matthew 26:63-66; Mark 14:61-64) was to commit blasphemy and thereby be worthy of death.  And if He was/is not Messiah and God, then my eternal destiny is dark and foreboding.  However, and as I asked an anti-missionary in Bensonhurst Park nearly a decade ago, “What if He is?”  And I praise my Jesus at the right hand of the Father, that He is my hope and eternity!

Please read this paragraph carefully before reacting … The members of the Sanhedrin who leveled the charge of blasphemy against Jesus were not wrong in their defense of Judaism.  They were wrong in not recognizing the Messiah who stood before them.  They were defending their faith, which is the moral and right action to take.  They were just incorrect in what they were defending.

We as believers in the 21st century cannot hold their misguided but moral actions against them because they were looking for the Messiah and wanting the Messiah.  They simply did not realize that they were as the old Johnny Paycheck song warbles, “looking in all the wrong places.”  They were wanting a physical Messiah (Messiah ben David) who would overthrow the Romans but forgetting that He first had to come as the suffering servant to gain atonement for humanity’s sins (Isaiah 52:11-53:12).

Spiritual Aspect of the Question

This blog post finally finishes with the most difficult question of them all as it relates to who killed Jesus … who killed Jesus spiritually?  Because is this not the crux of the question?  The physical answer of the question is obvious except to the most intellectually dense members of the population.  The moral answer is more refined and esoteric but is still easily answered.  It is the spiritual answer that clinches the stomachs of anyone and everyone who has really sought to answer the question.

Yes, there are the verses in Matthew 27:25 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 that are both misinterpreted (click here for a good apologetic response for Matthew 27:25 and Paul’s Conundrum analyzes the Thessalonians passage in depth) and misapplied for nefarious and non-Christian purposes.  However, I want to provide the answer to this aspect of the question with the very words of Jesus from John 10:14-18:

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

As we can see, no one killed Jesus.  He lay His own life down so that we all could have eternal life through and with Him.  No one killed Jesus because He went to the cross voluntarily (Luke 22:39-46).  No one killed Jesus because He could have stopped it at any time (Matthew 26:51-54) but chose to die as the perfect and eternal sacrificial atonement so that we could approach the throne of God (Hebrews 4:14-16).  No one killed Jesus because He forgave us all and died so that we might live (Luke 23:34).

So … go forth and share the Good News of the Gospel with His brothers and sisters.  Do not be afraid of the “elephant in the room” question because you have the truth of the greatest answer in the world!  Shalom.

*Permission for the photograph to be used was granted by the photographer, James Drawbond.
**Traditionally, this blog has provided links to the references for further education.  However, this “church” in Kansas does not deserve the publicity and will not receive it on the blog.

Response #14 to Reason #14 (Return Visit … Finally!)

I freely admit that it has been a long time since this blog dealt with Asher Norman’s Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus.  I could give you a multitude of reasons for why this absence took place … including other interesting posts to write and a weariness with Norman’s redundant arguments; however, I am going to finish the book!!!  So let’s examine his arguments:

  1. First Norman argues that the disciples were unaware that Jesus had to die.  Norman is right; however, this does not prove his argument that Jesus was not the Messiah.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.  The disciples while good Jewish men were not as conversant with the prophecies and promises of Messiah as the Pharisees were.  So for a true examination of the passages we should instead look at their reactions.  They knew what Jesus was proclaiming and for example when Jesus quoted Daniel 7:13-14 to Caiaphas, Caiaphas knew He was proclaiming His divinity and deity.  The leaders knew and sadly were afraid of what this might mean.  They were more afraid of the Romans than in awe of being in the presence of the Messiah.  However, before we judge, we should ask ourselves how often we are impacted more by the world than by the truth of God’s Word.
  2. Next Norman tries to argue two aspects of the Crucifixion narrative — first that Jesus did not want to die and that He tried to talk Pilate out of killing him.  First, this narrative in the Gospels is both an affirmation of Jesus’ humanity and an awareness and acceptance of God’s will.  Second, Norman is guilty of eisegeting John 18:36-37 and any fair reading of the text involving Pilate and Jesus will recognize that Norman is guilty of imposing a personal desire on the text of Scripture.
  3. Third, Norman tries to argue that Jesus stating, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”, is an argument that Jesus did not want to die.  I will respond to this argument through the words of an Israeli who stated that everyone at the cross knew that when Jesus began quoting Psalm 22 that He was claiming this Messianic promise as himself and as true.  Norman is banking on others not knowing this fact.  Don’t be fooled by the argument.  Go check out the Messianic promise of Psalm 22 and see the reality come true in the Passion narratives of the Gospel.

This blog will seek to do a better job in finishing Norman’s work.  Sometimes the monotony is difficult but the task is important.  And the task will be completed.  Shalom.  God bless.

Why the Hate? A Question for “Christian” Anti-Semites

A pastor friend of mine sent me a letter a few weeks ago about a “certificate” he received from an individual that hadvisited his church.  This “certificate” offers $1,300 to anyone who can prove that the Jewish people are God’s Chosen People.

Now for most of us this seems like a silly exercise because Scripture is clear that the Jewish people are God’s Chosen Ones dating back to Genesis 12, 15, and 17.  Jesus’ lineage is clearly Jewish as identified in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.  In fact, the Jewish religious leaders objected (John 19:21) to Jesus being referred to as “the king of the Jews” even though Jesus himself stated to Pilate that He was (Matthew 27:11) and even earlier had wept for the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants because of their unbelief (Matthew 23).  However, this individual who visited my friend’s church is blinded by anti-Semitism and the false belief of “Anglo-Israelism”.  And yes, I will seek to find a way to send him this post because I am keeping the certificate … not because I am interested in the money but because I want the reminder of man’s foolishness and bigotry against God’s Chosen People (it keeps me motivated and focused).

This man who visited my friend’s church is blinded, deceived, and dare I say it, … pathetic.  He deserves our prayer and our sympathy because he is so wrong.  Only the Jewish Messiah — Jesus of Nazareth — can change his heart and bring him hope and salvation.  Let’s pray to that end.

However, and while this “certificate” is disturbing, I am more concerned about other types of hate and Christian anti-Semitism.  For while this group and man can be disregarded as hateful and ignorant, what about the other so-called Christians who operate under a facade of “civility” but their actions, teachings, and responses show their true face?

First, you have those who are not ignorant and believe the lie that “white folks” are the true Israel but do believe that the church has replaced Israel in God’s economy.  I must insert a footnote that I know many advocates of replacement theology who still have a heart for Jewish evangelism/missions; however, their incorrect theology makes it almost impossible for focused evangelism (i.e., Romans 1:16) to take place.

Second, you have those who “so love the Jewish people” that they have substituted the atoning blood of Jesus for the lie that there is another way to heaven aside from Jesus.  This lie is called dual covenantalism and requires the complete abdication of such passages as John 14:6 and Acts 4:12.

Third, and this has been discussed before on this blog, you have the “hate” of Christian Utilitarianism.  This teaching does not ignore the Jewish people; however, it does ignore the truth of Romans 1:16 and relegate God’s Chosen Ones to the back burner of missions.  And this is very hateful to God!

Fourth, and finally, you have the greatest “Christian hatred” of all … apathy.  Apathy has sent more people to hell than any other sin of Christian churches.  And this is never more so than for the Jewish people.  Christian apathy in the 1940s sent millions of European Jews to the killing fields of Babi Yar and Auschwitz.  Today Christian apathy is sending millions more to the eternal lake of fire. 

I can ignore the “crackpots” who send bogus certificates to pastors.  I cannot ignore “Christians” who ignore the truth of Romans 1:16.  What about you?

Response #13 to Reason #13 (Nigel … This Is For You!)

After a long but necessary break from Asher Norman’s Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jewish People Don’t Believe in Jesus, I am returning to the task of providing an appropriate Messianic/Christian apologetic response.

Norman in his Reason #13 deals exclusively with the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy of a virgin conceiving and bearing a son to be called Emmanuel.  I not going to go into the various nuts and bolts of breaking down the appropriate use of almah as a statement of virginity (i.e., betulah) to a very good apologetic response from Jews for Jesus — Almah:  Virgin or Young Maiden.

Instead I will attempt to explain a very important but often overlooked aspect of this prophecy … it did have an original fulfillment in the days of Ahaz … but that is not the rest of the story.  What is often misunderstood in prophecy sections of Scripture is the reality that many prophecies have a double fulfillment aspect to them.  For example, the prophecy of Daniel 7 and 9 did have a fulfillment with the abomination of Antiochus Epiphanes but it has an ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.  Coincidentally, Eve believed the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled in Cain but soon came to realize that the final fulfillment was yet to be realized.  Therefore, Isaiah 7:14 should be seen in the same way.

There is truth in the argument that Isaiah 7:14 was realized in Isaiah’s and Ahaz’s day.  There was a child to be born who would see the immediate reality; however, this was just a precursor to the final fulfillment of the Virgin Birth of Jesus.  In other words, there is a double fulfillment to Isaiah 7:14 and should be seen in conjunction to the descriptors of this child in Isaiah 9:6.

Another clue to the double fulfillment aspect of Isaiah 7:14 is the name of the child, “Emmanuel.”  God with us is a clue to the Incarnational reality of Messiah Jesus.  For this child is something beyond the earthly but involves the heavenly and eternity.

As always I wish there were more time to delve appropriately into this verse.  But perhaps we can broach this topic with the understanding that there was an immediate fulfillment but most importantly an eternal fulfillment in Messiah Jesus.

Rebuttal #12 to Reason #12

At times this effort to get through the anti-missionary diatribe of Asher Norman’s Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus is just that … an effort.  This is never more true than what I read in Reason #12.

Norman tries to state, albeit without evidence, that the Jewish Bible warned the people against Jesus.  He uses Deuteronomy 13:2-6 as his prooftext.  And while we can all agree that this passage does warn against false prophets, Jesus is not one of those as He was/is/will be the Son of David, the Son of God, the Son of Man, Messiah (ben Joseph and ben David), and God himself.

The Jewish Bible (Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures) does tell us about Jesus.  It starts in Genesis 1:1 and ends in Malachi with the promise that Elijah would announce the coming of the Messiah (see fulfillment with John the Baptist).  Every word, every passage, every verse speaks of Messiah Jesus.  From the promises of the prophecies in Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 52:11-53:12; Zechariah 14 and a million other places as well to the Theophanies/Christophanies of Genesis 19 and Daniel with Shadrach, Meshiach, and Abednego, the Hebrew Scriptures announce the coming of Messiah Jesus.

Ultimately, Norman has it wrong about the warning against Jesus in the Old Testament.  However, there is a warning related to Jesus in the Word of God.  The Bible states that if we do not follow the truth of Messiah Jesus we are destined for an eternity apart from God the Father.  Which warning are you going to believe?  Hopefully the truth of Messiah Jesus.  You decide!  Shalom.  God bless.

Rebuttal #9 to Reason #9 (Part Two)

In Part One of Rebuttal #9 to Reason #9, we examined the first two arguments of Asher Norman in his work, Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jewish People Don’t Believe in Jesus.  This part will examine the final two arguments:

  1. God cannot be a man or the Son of Man (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Hosea 11:9; Psalm 146:3)
  2. God is God and He is God alone
  3. Messiah will fear God
  4. To whom should the expression “Son of God” refer?

So let’s get started …

The Messiah will fear God.  Perhaps it is because Norman is an attorney and not a theologian that he makes a critical error in understanding of Scripture.  Perhaps it is because he purposely misinterprets the passage but his reference to Isaiah 11:1-3 illustrates that Norman is not grounded in truth and understanding.  The word fear in Hebrew can be transliterated as yirah which is understood as reverence/awe of God.  Throughout the Gospels, especially in Jesus’ Prayer of John 17, Jesus expresses an awareness of the awesomeness of God the Father.  To state that the Incarnate Jesus can have reverence towards God the Father is not a contradiction but an awareness of the the role that Jesus as man on earth expressed towards the Father God.  This is not a contradiction that the Messiah would reverence God but an awareness of how God the Son understood His role in our salvation.

Now for the final argument of Norman’s 9th Reason …

To whom should the expression “Son of God” refer.  Norman’s ultimate argument is that the term “Son of God” refers to the Davidic line of kings.  I agree.  However, what Norman misses in his arguments is that Jesus is of the lineage of David (see Genealogy post) and He was/is/will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Davidic kingship as expressed by David himself in Psalm 110.  David wrote in this psalm that “The Lord said to my Lord …”  David knew that there would arise not only a greater king than himself but also someone who would be sitting at the right hand of God himself.  In other words, the greatest of Davidic kings is God through the Incarnate reality of Jesus of Nazareth.  Complicated … yes.  Truth … YES!

I imagine that Asher Norman reads these posts, especially given the traffic generated by these posts.  Therefore, I would like to ask him a question.  Why do you focus on Messiah Ben David as ruling Messiah but ignore the reality of the Messiah ben Joseph aspect of Messiah who is to suffer and die for His people?  Would love to hear from him.  Shalom.  God bless.

Rebuttal #9 to Reason #9 (Part One)

I would hope that after reading both part 1 and part 2 of the rebuttal #8 to reason #9, most readers would recognize that the arguments of Asher Norman in Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jewish People Don’t Believe in Jesus are incorrect … non-sensical … wrong.  However, I am going to go on and finish this book because there are other reasons Norman postulates which must be rebutted.  Part One of Rebuttal #9 to Reason #9 is one of those postulates.

Reason #9 for Norman is the argument that God cannot become a man and that Jesus is not the Son of God.  For convenience’s sake, let me summarize his arguments (part one will deal with the first two arguments):

  1. God cannot be a man or the Son of Man (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Hosea 11:9; Psalm 146:3)
  2. God is God and He is God alone
  3. Messiah will fear God
  4. To whom should the expression “Son of God” refer?

Now let me surprise you … perhaps … Norman is almost right on every point.  It is where he is wrong that creates the tragic misunderstanding of recognizing/realizing that Jesus is the Messiah.  So let’s go through every point that Norman makes and correct him in his errors.

God cannot be a man because He is God.  However, God can become man in order to announce his presence to mankind and especially to save humanity.  This is not a New Testament teaching.  The concept of a “theophany” (pre-incarnate manifestation of Messiah Jesus) goes back to the first book of Scripture.  Genesis 18 tells us of the Lord (Yahweh/Adonai) appearing to Abram with two angels.  The two angels go on to Sodom to rescue Lot but the “Angel of the Lord” remains and announces the birth of Isaac.  Another quick example is Jacob’s wrestling match with God in Genesis 32 in which he states that he has seen God (Elohim) face to face (panim el panim).   These two passages along with many others (i.e., Shadrach, Meschach, and Abedinego in the fiery furnace) tell us that while God is not man He can become man in order to accomplish His will.  Hence the signifiance of Isaiah 7:14 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Immanuel (God with us in a very literal sense)” and Isaiah 9:6 and the four descriptors of this child:  (1) wonderful counselor; (2) mighty God; (3) everlasting Father; and (4) prince of peace.  These four descriptors could only refer to God himself.  In no sense of the word could you refer to a common human as “mighty God” as this is blasphemy.  However, this child is a child who was born and should be understood as the realization and fulfillment of all the Old Testament theophanies … God is with us in the Incarnate form of Messiah Jesus.

Now what about those verses tha Norman uses.  Let’s look real quick and give an overall synopsis of them all.  Norman is right … to a point.  God is not a man that can sin but as He is God he can become human in order to suffer for us because we cannot suffer for ourselves.  Isn’t that the point of Hebrews 4:14-18?

The second point is much like the first one but deals with the aloneness (uniqueness of God):

Again God is God alone.  On this issue we can agree; however, Norman fails to understand the nuances of the uniqueness and aloneness of God.  First, the Shema itself explains the fact that God is one but just what does “echad” really mean in “Shema, Yisrael, Adonai (Yahweh) Elohenu, Adonai (Yahweh) echad“?  “Echad” is one but more than just the old Three Dog Night song.  This one defines as unit much like an egg is yolk, shell, white but it is one egg.  Much like the Trinity states that God is one as Father, Son, Spirit. 

This misunderstanding of God alone is not Scriptural but based in the “un” teachings of Moses Maimonides (Rambam).  Rambam taught that God was unknowable, unapproachable, untouchable.  This “un” God is not what God wants to be in our lives and previous posts detail this fact in much more detail.  God is not “Un-Cola” but the real thing.  He is alone in the sense of uniqueness but that does not mean that He cannot reveal Himself to us as either Father, Son, or Spirit.  He can.  He does.  And that is what makes our salvation possible (1 Peter 1:1-2) because all three manifestations of God worked out our salvation for us because we could not do it ourselves.  Wow!  What a unique and wonderful God!

Stay tuned for part two of the rebuttal for Reason #9.  It should be ready by the end of this week.  God bless.  Shalom!

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