Welcome to Home Shalom!

Welcome to Home Shalom and Shalom Farm. We pray your visit here be blessed. We are learning to walk in the Ways (Torah) of our Father YHWH and follow Y'shua, His Messiah until He returns to "set things straight". We call it a "Messi-Life". Our walk is neither tidy nor perfect, but it is filled with passion, devotion and desire to serve our King. We are learning to be humble servants, and to be good stewards of the things that He has entrusted to us: His Word, our marriage, our children, our family, our community, our health, and our farm. Hitch your horse and stay a while--our door is always open!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mind over Matzah

In our first few years of keeping the feasts, were we on this sort of “hamster wheel” of learning. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about. There is so much to learn! So many things were so new and different and foreign to our understanding as we were “foreigners” to YHVH’s ways. We would get bits and pieces and often really big huge chunks, but before we knew it the next feast (or Torah revelation) was waiting on us to “process” and learn from. The next thing you know a year passes and we found ourselves back at the first feast again (Passover), and we had many of the same questions again. Oh sure we remembered a lot, but we had also learned so much in the past year that NEW questions were raised that we never thought to raise the previous years….and so on. This is all part of the beautiful process of keeping the Feasts when we are growing IN HIM and His ways. As the joy of the Feast of Matzah approaches, so do all of the surrounding questions and controversies. What is leaven? Why abstain? What are we supposed to learn? Over the years, we have come to embrace these questions as a designed part of each season, and now look forward to the fine-tuning (or sometimes u-turning) of our path. Last season, it felt like we made several break-throughs in the area of the leaven related verses, and we thought it may be helpful to share some things that we have learned. Please know that (like all things related to Scripture and Yah) we do not claim to have the definitive knowledge of it or have it “all figured out”, nor do we expect everyone to have arrived at the same conclusions as us. "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to YHVH; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread." (Exodus 14-20) The first time we honored the Feast of Matzah, we used the broadest definition of leaven possible. Anything that contained yeast, baking soda, or baking powder went in the trash. This included natural deodorants and tooth pastes, much of which we had purchased (fairly recently) in large quantities. Of course, our bulk baking soda itself had to go too, and that was not an inexpensive sacrifice either. We essentially kept that policy and understanding, but planned our purchases of such products better, so as to run out closer to the Spring each year. Last year, however, marked a change in our understanding and definition of “Biblical leavening” and deepened our understanding to the object lesson YHVH is trying to teach us. The Wikipedia definition reads: “A leavening agent is any one of a number of substances used in doughs and batters that cause a foaming action which lightens and softens the finished product.” This definition includes yeast, baking soda, and baking powder. It technically could include eggs, and even the mechanical action of a vigorous whisking. I suppose we could have been considered “leavening liberals” as we never threw away our whisks each season! What actually occurs during the leaving process is that carbon dioxide spreads throughout the dough, creating thousands of tiny bubbles and causes the bread to rise or puff up. Baking soda and powder do this through a chemical reaction, while yeast is a biological reaction. Baking soda and powder are inactive while sitting dry in your cabinet, while yeast and sourdough starter are living organisms…both of which are always alive and breathing…even while not working in your food. Even in the freezer, commercial yeast’s activity is only slowed down...it is still active and looking for an opportunity to spread. Our Isrealite ancestors did not have the luxury of the chemical leavening agents we all take advantage of today. Naturally occurring yeast (sourdough) was the main method of getting dough to rise…encouraging the formation of new yeast is a simple process, but once created, a small amount of each loaf was taken and passed on to the next loaf…thus the leaven was passed on from one generation of bread to the next. Often, professional sour-dough makers have passed on the same yeast culture for hundreds of years! For our people, however, this Feast of Matzah mandates an annual break in this cycle, where all of the old leaven was destroyed, and the process was begun from scratch. It is the history and nature of yeast specifically, that has informed our choice to NOT destroy our baking soda and powder last year, and to leave our personal care products in the bathroom unharmed. Although we don’t believe that chemical leavening agents qualify as “Biblical leaven”, we do choose to abstain from eating any leavened food, regardless of what was used to make it rise, during that week. We don’t however dump our wine (kombucha, etc) down the sink (as yeast is often a fermentation agent) because this Feast is called “Unleavened Bread”, not “Unfermented Drink”. There is also no Biblical or historical evidence (that we can find) that the Israelites did that or included that in the original Feast observance. One of things that grieves us in listening to the ways many Jews describe this feast, is that so often they say “Our people eat unleavened bread because they did not have time to add the leavening on the way out of Egypt.” The Scripture does mention the haste in which our people left, and yes, I’m sure there was a lot to pack and plenty to do that night, but not leavening the bread was a COMMANDMENT, not an oversight. We eat unleavened bread and remove leavening from our homes because YHVH is trying to teach us something. If we simply do it because our fathers did it, and so on, we are left with an empty tradition, which ironically is one of the lessons this Feast is trying to teach us to avoid. In Deuteronomy, Matzah is called “the bread of affliction”, based, we assume, on the hardships our people faced as millions fled Pharaoh, and faced the prospects of thirst and starvation in the wilderness journey that followed. 4000 years in retrospect, we like to focus more on the victorious aspects of the Exodus, rather than the reluctance, fear, and grumbling of many of the ancient Hebrews. (For we choose to live a life of gratitude and thankfulness for all the Father has and continues to do in our lives.) The object lesson about leaven is showing us the nature of sin unchecked. If left to its own devices, sin will grow and spread, and even pass itself down from generation to generation. Passover marks a fresh start in our spiritual lives, and by taking the time to free our bodies from “sin”, cleansing our homes of “sin” and even enjoying a week fast from “sin”, is all part of the celebration. During this time, of course, we need to expand the search for actual sin in our lives, and not simply just chase down the innocent yeast that YHVH chose to illustrate these principles. Paul makes this leaven/sin connection while teaching new Christians the proper spirit with which to celebrate Unleavened bread. “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Yeshua, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8) Ironically, most Christians don’t take Paul’s advice, and “celebrate the festival”. Messiah also compares leaven to religious hypocrisy and false traditions. “Yeshua said to them, "Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:5-12) Just as our character faults (sin) can make its way from our hearts to our children’s, so do false understandings, and false traditions make their way throughout history. Yeshua consistently praised and edified the teachings of Moses, but constantly criticized the Pharisies and Sadducees for the sometimes subtle man-made teachings added to Moses’ that has spread through Judaism. Of course if this gospel was written today, Yeshua would likely say “beware the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, Rabbis, Popes, Priests, Pastors, Ministers, Televangelists…” Another aspect of leavening is taking something of substance (flour and water), and adding something gaseous and invisible (carbon dioxide). CO2 in fact is the “poison” we exhale when we breathe. In Ephesians 2:2 Satan is called “the prince of the power of the air”. Satan is the master of filling our lives with empty distractions, while we fool ourselves into feeling fulfilled and growing. Paul writes, “we know that all of us possess knowledge. This "knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up.” Regarding the qualifications of elders, he writes to Timothy, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.“ Also, Habakkuk 2:4, "Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” Avoiding leaven for the week should also remind us to be humble and give us an occasion to let out some of our air. Now obviously, yeast itself is not really Satanic. The properties that yeast portrays can actually be used FOR the kingdom. “He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”” (Matthew 13:33). In His Kingdom, good has a life of its own and can spread just like sin. Although the Scriptures don’t say this specifically, this week is kind of like a Sabbath rest for the task that yeast is normally assigned to. Once per week, we, our servants, and our animals all rest…but our yeast still rises on. Every seven years, our land rests, but our yeast still rises on. One week per year, however, the rising quits, and even our dough is still and rests for the Feast. Of course, we still anticipate new questions this time around. We look forward to enjoying fellowship with new families, each bringing new perspectives to the table. It’s hard to imagine living a Word/Messiah-centered life without honoring the commanded Feasts as spelled out in Scripture, as best we can. We are thankful for having been set free from religious chains and being given a passion for His Word and for HIM that steers our choices. We are thankful that He humbles us in the process to see that we are far less than perfect in this walk. We are thankful that He constantly reminds us to love our brothers and sisters who are also less than perfect as we all wait to be perfected upon His final return and ingathering. Chag Ha Matzot!


Andi said...

Shalom.... as I have come again to the conclusion I didn't know half of what I thought I did...it seems each year, I ask the same thing over and over, and this year Abba gave me...just listen to ME...and what I say. Not various teachings/opinions.
This was a very helpful post, and I am ever thankful for your sharing it! We look forward to the day when we are with HIM, learning it the right way!

Moira said...

I really enjoyed this article!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

One year at passover we were staying with a lady(her first time keeping the Feast) I remember she got so very angry and bitter with YHVH about the waste involved in throwing away all the leaven. I tried really hard to explain to her that it represents sin in our lives(most important lesson), but she couldn't hear me through her disgust, very sad. If our focus stays on the lesson of cleaning out the sin instead of the over- obsessiveness of anything that is a leavening agent, then I think we might actually be able to learn something each year from this practical practice!

Nisha said...

I just came across your site by way of "pinterest." My family has been learning to keep the feasts in the Bible for about the last ten years... but it is still a little confusing at times. But I love learning a little more about God with each new struggle. I look forward to spending some time on your site... nice to meet y'all.