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COVID, Vaccines, and Torah

My personal, commonsense, Biblical approach to COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 Is Everywhere.

It’s on everyone’s mind, in our conversations, on the news, and attached to every other Facebook post. They even say that it’s in the air. For almost two years, governments and corporations around the world have mandated lockdowns, social distancing, masks, and now vaccines to combat what we have been told is one of the most virulent and dangerous plagues in history.

Some people say we should ignore the governments and go about our business. If you love your neighbor, you won’t tolerate such tyranny. Others say it’s just common sense to wear a mask and keep your distance to protect vulnerable people. If you love your neighbor, you’ll wear a mask. They can’t both be right, can they?

The idea of masks and distancing make intuitive sense. If the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread by tiny water droplets in our breath, then a mask to contain those droplets, and a little distance to keep them from getting on other people should help, right?

Well, there’s theory, and then there’s the real world.

I’m no expert–and I’m going to keep telling you that–but I’m also not stupid. I can read, listen, observe, and think for myself. I don’t need to be a doctor or a virologist to weigh the obvious implications of observable reality. I’ll share my conclusions with you, and then I’m going trust you to think through it for yourself and make your own health decisions.

Face Masks

From everything I’ve read, face masks have very limited utility in stopping or even slowing the spread of COVID. The designer cloth masks that so many people like to wear do almost nothing and bandanas and plastic shields really don’t do anything more than attenuate sneezes. I suppose that’s better than nothing.

Surgical masks vary widely in effectiveness based on how they are manufactured and how they are worn, but that effectiveness drops off sharply after…oh….a few minutes of use. They’re really designed for reducing transfer of bacteria from a surgeon’s mouth to a patient’s innards just a couple of feet away over a short period of time and following a very strict protocol. They are definitely not intended to be worn for hours on end, taken off and on with dirty hands, and pulled under chins.

If you wear a face mask for more than a few minutes, it begins to saturate with moisture from your breath, including all the viruses and bacteria that came with it. Much of your breath is then just blowing out the sides of the masks or–much worse–blowing that moisture through and off the outside of the mask in much smaller particles than had originally escaped your mouth, potentially helping any viruses to spread more efficiently than they would have if you hadn’t worn the mask at all.

Reality trumps theory every time.

Social Distancing

Even the deer are getting COVID. Seriously. How can anyone believe that “social distancing” is having any effect at all?

Study after study has shown that six feet of distance is no better than three and no worse than twelve. Don’t be rude and get right up in people’s faces, but skipping rows at church and standing on the Xs at the grocery store are wastes of space.

If you get sick, you should stay home. Otherwise, be social. It’s good for you. And everyone else too. We want to see you!

Like I said, I’m not an expert. I’m just some guy on the Internet who doesn’t like outsourcing my thinking to politicians and reporters who have proven themselves over and over and over to be liars.

So why should you believe me? You shouldn’t. I haven’t included any sources in this article, partly because I haven’t kept track of everything I’ve read and seen over the last 18 months, but also because you really need to do your own research. Don’t rely on me and, for God’s sake, don’t rely on the press!

What’s the Point?

If these extreme anti-COVID measures–businesses destroyed, lonely suicides, skyrocketing mental illness, pastors arrested for holding church–don’t actually do anything to help, why are we doing them?

Call me a paranoid conspiracy theorist if you want, but I am totally convinced that the real purpose of forcing masks, closures, and social distancing on the world has nothing to do with preventing illness and everything to do with promoting fear. Why do politicians and rumor mongers (“reporters” implies they’re reporting something instead of spreading lies) want us to be afraid?

Fearful people are easier to control. When they’re confused, they’re ready to be directed. When the masses are afraid, they beg for more government, to be wrapped up in a comforting, protective blanket of authoritarianism. The bigger and scarier the bogeyman, the more unreasonable the solutions can be.

Like a rushed, emergency vaccine using an experimental method that has never worked despite decades of research and trials.

COVID Vaccines

Various governments around the world have given emergency authorization to a large number of experimental vaccines for treating COVID. Some of them are fairly conventional, while others are just massive medical experiments using the general public as guinea pigs. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in me.

Here is a summary of what I’ve been able to deduce from my own reading as a regular guy not being paid by the Gates Foundation, Pfizer, the CDC, or the Department of Division and Slander…

  1. The mRNA and DNA vaccines spread throughout the body and infect healthy cells with mRNA or DNA that hijack the normal processes of the cell to manufacture a portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as a “spike protein”. This process destroys the infected cells, releasing millions (billions?) of the spike proteins.
  2. The cells that have been hijacked to manufacture spike proteins could be targeted by the body’s normal immune processes, creating autoimmune conditions in which the immune system begins targeting healthy, non-hijacked cells of the same type.
  3. The SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins are designed to cause mechanical damage to cells so that the virus can inject its own DNA. The spike proteins created by the mRNA and DNA vaccines must be identical (or nearly identical) to the spike proteins on the virus or they would not work. It is inconceivable that releasing millions (or billions) of those same spikes would not cause damage to cells throughout the body.
  4. Widely available statistics appear to indicate that none of the available COVID vaccines provide any significant protection against the contraction or spread of SARS-CoV-2. Since the vaccines do not provide immunity to vaccinated individuals, they do nothing to achieve herd immunity, but do accelerate mutation and facilitate transmission. The claim that they reduce symptoms of COVID once infected by the virus appears to have some statistical support, but this actually compounds the problems of mutation and transmission.
  5. Many well-credentialed physicians and medical experts have stated that the COVID vaccines pose significant health risks, potentially far exceeding the health risks of COVID itself.
  6. SARS-CoV-2 is already mutating into new strains, which will soon make current vaccines obsolete, and unable to do anything except cause further harm.
  7. Many well-credentialed physicians and medical experts have stated that there are proven and effective treatments for COVID that significantly shorten the duration of illness and lessen its symptoms without the use of vaccines.
  8. Despite official ingredients lists to the contrary, all COVID vaccines that I know of use tissue cultured from aborted babies at some point in the development or manufacturing process. These babies were not voluntary tissue donors, but the victims of elective abortions, also known as murder for convenience. Vaccine makers that use fetal tissue in the manufacturing process attempt to remove that original human tissue to varying degrees through the use of chemical and mechanical means, but it is impossible to remove all traces. Every one of those COVID vaccine doses contains some bits of cells cultured from those murder victims. Vaccine makers that use fetal tissue in the development of their vaccines are still participating in and benefiting from murder for profit.
  9. Vaccine makers are generally exempted from being held accountable for fraud, malpractice, and assault related to vaccines. This alone is sufficient justification for any reasonable person to reject their products.
  10. Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, and other pharmaceutical companies involved in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of COVID vaccines have decades long histories of fabrication of test results and statistical data, massive fraud, and human rights violations that demonstrate a clear tendency to prioritize profits and technical advancements, while holding the health and rights of real, individual people to be next to worthless. This alone is sufficient justification for any reasonable person to reject the vaccines of these companies in particular.

The Biblical Case for Vaccination

Deuteronomy 22:8 says that, when you build a house, you should build a parapet (something like a railing or low wall) around the roof so that nobody falls off and gets hurt. In the Ancient Near East, where most of the Bible was written, the flat roofs of houses often doubled as an extra room of the home. People would sleep on the roof during hot weather or visit there with guests. The principle of this command is that we should take reasonable precautions within our own spheres of responsibility to prevent other people from being injured. If you have a dangerous animal, keep it penned up. If you have leprosy, stay in quarantine. You don’t have to go looking for problems in other people’s homes and businesses, but you should definitely see to your own.

It only makes sense to take precautions with COVID as well. No good person wants others to be sick and miserable, so why not? If masks work at preventing or “slowing the spread” (they don’t), we should wear them. If social distancing works (it doesn’t), we should keep our distance. If vaccination against COVID works (it doesn’t), we should get vaccinated, assuming there aren’t other good reasons that God might not like it (there are).

If you love your neighbor, you won’t unnecessarily put your neighbor at risk by breathing pathogens at him.

The problem with all of these justifications is that they depend on the first IF statements being true before the THEN statements become true.

The Biblical Case Against Vaccination

As you can see from my list of ten facts about the COVID vaccines , the IF statements above don’t pass the test. Masks don’t work. Social distancing doesn’t work. The COVID vaccines don’t work!

Sure, they probably reduce the symptoms a little, but this actually makes the problem worse, because it tricks people into thinking they’re well, when they’re actually sick. Infected, contagious people are walking around as if nothing is wrong because they’ve been vaccinated, but they’ve become breeding grounds for new strains that they freely pass on to others.

The parapet you build on your roof doesn’t actually fulfill the commandment unless it works to keep people from falling off. If it looks solid, but it’s actually made of cardboard, then it’s much worse than if you hadn’t built it at all. Your neighbor will lean on it, thinking he’s safe; it will collapse throwing him from the rooftop, and that will be your fault.

Concert venues, airlines, and entire countries are refusing to allow people to enter without proof of vaccination, because they’ve been told that vaccination will keep people safe, except that it does exactly the opposite. The vaccines are making people even more vulnerable and spreading COVID even faster.

If you love your neighbor, you’ll accept a little risk on his behalf, and not make panicky decisions that put him in even greater danger than before.

This isn’t even considering what happens when you reward pharmaceutical companies with billions of dollars for buying and using body parts of murdered babies as factory components. Those particular babies were sacrificed on the alter of convenience decades ago, so does that still matter today? If the vaccines were actually saving a significant number of lives, that might be an argument worth considering. But they’re not, and do you think Planned Parenthood isn’t watching today and seeing what sins are being rewarded with fat bank accounts?

Is the COVID Vaccine the Mark of the Beast?

Since the book of Revelation contains so much allegorical imagery, almost anything can be made to fit the descriptions of the Mark of the Beast if you take just the right angle and make the right assumptions. Unfortunately–or fortunately–it’s not easy to make these vaccines fit. Indulge me in making another numbered list…

  1. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t contain the “number of a man” or the number 666 anywhere. 60606, 666.66, and 66600 aren’t 666. John didn’t say that the number of of the beast would contain three sixes. He said it was six hundred, sixty, and six. No more and no less.
  2. Some people are taking the vaccination in their right arm, which, in some languages, equates to the right “hand”. Others are taking in the left arm and nobody is taking it in their forehead.
  3. People are being denied some business opportunities because of their lack of vaccination, but nobody has been blanketly denied all ability to buy and sell. Not yet, anyway.
  4. If the vaccine is the mark, who or what is the Beast? Okay, I’ll give you that one. The government, rumor mills, and pharmaceutical giants are all pretty beastly.

Exodus 13 says that Passover is to be a sign on the right hand and forehead of God’s people. Exodus 31:13 says that the weekly Sabbath is a sign between God and his people. Deuteronomy 6 and 11 say that all of God’s commandments will be a sign on the hands and foreheads of his people. Considering those passages, I am inclined to believe that the mark on the hands and foreheads of the people in Revelation 13 is not a literal mark, but submission to the law of the Beast. God’s mark is submission to his commandments. The Beast’s mark is submission to his.

Revelation says that the Mark of the Beast is the same as the Number of the Beast, and that it is the number of his name. Maybe the preterists are right–I suspect they are partly right–and this refers to some arrangement of the name and title of Emperor Nero. In any case, in biblical language, a name is more than just the label we use to call someone. It is the sum of his character and reputation. In this sense, the name of God is the totality of who and what he is. “YHWH” is a convenient abbreviation of his character.

Just as God’s Law is an extension of his Name, so is the Beast’s Law an extension of his. I don’t expect a stamp, tattoo, or implanted chip to be the Mark that John wrote of. In this light, the COVID vaccines, and even the masks and other restrictions, could be described as the mark of A beast if not THE beast. Just like government-enforced “tolerance”, these laws are an attempt by men to force all people into destructive, unloving behavior under the color of love. This is Orwellian doublespeak. It means the opposite of what they say it is. Their love is not love, but hate. Their “reasonable precautions” are not precautions, but reckless disregard.

Pick a Side

So we are all left with a choice. Who is our master? To whom do we owe ultimate allegiance? Do we pretend to believe that 2+2 equals 5 and obey the nonsensical dictates of men despite good sense and Biblical admonitions? Or do we stand with Peter who said, “We must obey God rather than men.”

I will not comply with the Man’s law to accept the COVID vaccines, aka “the jab”, because I have chosen to obey God rather than man.

There is always the possibility that I am wrong. That everything I have read and chosen to believe is false, that Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates really are selfless humanitarians. I have not done any laboratory tests myself. I have no formal education in virology or medicine.

I know that not everyone who chooses to take one of these vaccines is doing it because they’ve chosen Man’s law over God’s. Many people are probably just scared. Can you blame them? The mainstream press publishes nonstop horror stories about how terrible COVID is and how we’re all going to die if we don’t comply, while the technomafia of social media and technology giants do everything they can to suppress alternative views. Many of these people have never even heard anything but the party line.

However, I suspect that a great many people are more afraid of losing social status than of COVID. I know some very smart and knowledgeable people who have cut off family and close friends for refusing to be vaccinated. They’re not cutting them off because their afraid of getting sick, but because they’re afraid of being ostracized from whatever they view as “polite society”. They’ve chosen status over relationships. I hope they still have consciences when it’s all over.

A few people are actually convinced by the available evidence that the masks, distancing, and vaccines are the best options.

If you have honestly examined the evidence for yourself, rather than believing everything Facebook and MSNBC tells you to believe, and you still believe that masking up and getting vaccinated is the wisest, most loving course, then you should do that. More power to you. God bless you and honor your desire to love and protect your neighbor.

Please do me the same courtesy.

Parsha Ki Tetzei – Apostolic Readings, Commentary, and Videos

New Testament readings for Torah portion Ki Tetsei, plus links to commentary and videos. Torah for Christians.

Readings

  • Deuteronomy 21:10-22:7
    • Matthew 5:17-20
    • Galatians 3:13-14
    • Colossians 3:18-21
  • Deuteronomy 22:8-23:25
    • Matthew 5:27-30
    • Luke 6:1
    • Acts 10:9-48
    • Philippians 2:1-11
    • Philemon 1:8-22
    • Colossians 3:22-25
    • Revelation 17
  • Deuteronomy 24:1-25:19
    • Matthew 5:31-32
    • Matthew 6:1-4
    • Mark 10:1-12
    • Luke 20:27-38
    • 1 Timothy 5:1-19

Additional Reading

Videos Related to Parsha Ki Tetzei

  • The King of Ai and the Image of God – What do you do with the body of a dead, wicked king? Joshua 8:28-29
  • Joseph and Mary – Divorced Before They Were Even Married!? – Betrothal is not the same as engagement. In fact, God treats engagement almost the same as marriage. If a man has relations with a woman who is betrothed to another man, the penalty is the same as if she were married: death. The only way to end a Biblical betrothal is through divorce.
  • What Is the Canon and Why Is It Closed? – We say that the Bible is a “closed canon” because, like any other measuring stick, if we keep changing it, nobody will have an objective standard they can use to evaluate extra-biblical works. In this video, I’m going to tell you why a having a closed canon is a very good thing.

Tzitzit, Part 2: Messianics, Hebrew Roots, and Torah

Regarding tzitzit, where does the commandment end and tradition begin?

Recall from part 1 that tzitzit are the tassels that God commanded the Israelites to tie onto the four corners of their garments in Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12. Tallits are the prayer shawls to which Jews attach their tzitzit.

See Part 1 here: The Torah and the Rabbis. Make sure you read that before reading this article, because I make some references here that might not make a lot of sense if you haven’t.

The Messianic and Hebrew Roots Application

Messianic Jews, Hebraic Roots believers, and Torah observant Christians have a much wider range of beliefs regarding tallits and tzitziyot than the various flavors of modern Judaism do. Most people who describe themselves as Messianic Jews will tend to adhere to rabbinic Judaism’s rules, but that is far from universal. People who describe themselves as Hebrew Roots will tend to more liberal standards.

Like Jews, Hebrew Roots people often wear tallits for prayer and special occasions and will usually follow rabbinic traditions when they do. However, many believe that tzitzit can be made of any kind of thread, wrapped and tied in any pattern, although the Ashkenazi and Sephardic patterns are very common.

Their tzitzit could be any color, but white, black, and tan are most common, so long as there is a single blue thread. Some believe that the blue (tekhelet) thread must be colored with the traditionally identified dye, while others agree with the Karaites that the dye can come from any source.

Many Hebrew Roots people believe that tzitzit should be worn visibly at all waking hours, often interpreting “four corners” to mean four points or four sides of an outer garment. They might wear a tallit katan for this purpose or they might attach their tzitzit to the hem of a shirt or even temporarily attached to belt loops. A few will wear a small rectangle of cloth suspended on one hip from the belt, called a “micro tallit”.

Where Does the Commandment End and Tradition Begin?

The Material of the Tzitzit

The written Torah doesn’t say what tzitzit should be made of. The rule in Deuteronomy 22:12 is immediately after a rule against wearing garments of mixed fibers in 22:11. Mainstream Jewish rabbis believe this is intended to imply an exception to the mixed fiber rule for tzitzit, while Karaite Jews believe it is intended to underscore the importance of the tzitzit being of the same material as the garment.

The preceding rules in Deuteronomy aren’t just about mixed fabrics, but also about mixed crops and plow animals, while the following rules are about marital troubles, sexual sins, and people who are not allowed to be mixed with Israel. I don’t believe that verses 11 and 12 make up a discrete, separate unit from these other rules, but that they are a coherent whole.

Verses 9-11 forbid certain mixtures of plants, animals, and fabrics. These commands are literal, but are also object lessons against mixing the wrong kinds of people.

Verse 12 commands the wearing of tzitzit “on the garment with which you cover yourself”. It emphasizes “covering” to remind Israel that God’s commands are given for their protection. The tzitzit say, “Keep these instructions, because they protect you from danger.”

Verses 13-21 contain instructions on how to handle a dispute between spouses of very different moral character. The married couple and their families were not careful to keep the commandments against mixing diverse types, and they reaped sorrow because of it. If only they had worn their tzitzit, they might not be in this trouble.

Verses 22-30 forbid certain sexual relationships. The Talmud contains a famous story of a man who resisted temptation because of his tzitzit. I’m sure you can find it if you search.

Verses 1-8 in chapter 23 describe who may and who may not enter the assembly of Israel. This passage looks back to verses 9-11 in chapter 22. It concludes the series by forbidding the mixing of pagan foreigners with Israelites.

Tzitzit are ultimately about relationship between people and God.

I don’t believe the command concerning tzitzit is placed here to say anything at all about the material of the tzitzit. It’s about people. Those who keep the commandments, including wearing tzitzit, are suitable marriage and community material. Those who do not keep the commandments are not suitable.

I take a position somewhere in the middle between the Karaite and Orthodox: If you permanently attach your tzitzit to your garment, then they are a single garment and should be of the same material. If they are not permanently attached, but are removable, then I don’t think it matters what they are made of.

I also don’t believe that the strings used in your tzitzit need to be specifically manufactured for that purpose. That is purely a tradition of man with no Biblical basis.

The Source of Blue

Torah doesn’t specify any particular color for tzitzit and even many rabbis will say that white is only traditional. It’s a good tradition, but you are free to use whatever colors suit you. However, I would avoid using blue, so that the single blue thread that God commanded will stand out.

The Hebrew word for blue, tekhelet, might (or might not) be derived from the name of a particular mollusk that was used to create a blue dye in the Ancient Near East. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the word can only refer to that one, particular dye. In modern English we have many color words that were originally derived from the source of a dye or some object of that color. The words have evolved to refer to the color itself, regardless of the source of dye. Crimson, for example, originally came from the name for an insect used to create a deep red dye, but very few modern English speakers are aware of that etymology, let alone adamant about restricting the use of the word to that dye derived from that original source.

Other sources of blue were known in the ancient world. For example, woad and indigo were both used to make blue dye for clothing, and the Babylonians and Egyptians used a mineral-based blue pigment for paints and construction materials. Tekhelet is the only Hebrew word used in the Bible for the color blue, and it’s used in widely different contexts. The same word is used to describe cloth used in the wilderness Tabernacle (Exodus 25-39), in the Jerusalem Temple (2 Chronicles 2:7 and 3:14), in Persian curtains and robes (Esther 1:6 and 8:15), and in the courts and markets of kingdoms around the known world (Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 27:7 and 27:24).

I think it is extremely unlikely that all of these things were only ever colored with a dye derived from a particular Mediterranean snail. More likely, the name for the color had long ago lost any real connection to the snail. Many centuries after the Torah was given at Sinai, someone mandated that a particular dye be used either because they had a financial interest in the industry or they felt a particular shade of blue was more meaningful than another.

The blue thread in the tzitzit is probably intended to remind us of the blue of the sky or else the sapphire pavement of heaven described by Moses in Exodus 24:10. Is it supposed to be the pale blue we know of as sky blue or is it the deep blue of the night sky? Probably sky blue, but the text isn’t explicit. If it’s blue and it reminds you of Heaven, that I think that’s sufficient.

Knots and Windings

Torah says that your tzitzit must be twisted or wound cord. I agree with the rabbis on this, that the exact manner of twisting is unimportant. It needs to be done so that it won’t come apart during normal wear, but otherwise, do it how you like.

Some people braid their tzitzit, while others like to get creative. I usually use the Sephardic winding and knots (see part 1 for a description of Sephardic and Ashekenazic windings) because it is derived from the four-letter name of God, YHVH, and so reinforces the purpose of the tzitzit and is easier to remember.

Tallits and Beltloops

Does “corners” literally refer to corners or to extremities? In the Bible, the Hebrew word kanaph usually refers to the wings of a bird or cherub, and twice refers to the extremities of either the land of Israel or the Earth. In none of those cases, can it be reasonably interpreted as a literal corner. It either means a pointed end (wing), or the farthest reaches (earth). When it is used in relation to clothing, it usually makes sense to translate it as corner, but does it necessarily have to mean that or can it be interpreted more loosely as in the four corners of the earth?

Most historians say that the outer garment commonly worn at the time was similar to a poncho, a simple rectangle of cloth with a hole in the middle for the head and a belt or girdle to cinch it around the middle. If the standard garment had been a wrap that was wound about the body instead of draped over the shoulder, would God have commanded Israel to switch to a rectangular outer garment or would he have told them to attach tassels on four evenly-distributed points on their hems or belts?

I don’t know the answer. The literal meaning of the command is to attach them to four corners, but I think it’s reasonable to attach them to four “sides” of your whatever outer garments are commonly worn in your time and culture rather than to adopt a new and foreign form of dress.

I don’t believe that the micro tallit fulfills the requirement of the commandment because all four tzitzit are on one side of the body. Torah says that they must be seen, and this purpose, plus the instruction to attach them to four corners requires that they should be seen from every direction. For this same reason, a tallit worn only on special occasions and a tallit katan worn completely hidden from the world are also insufficient.

I attach my tzitzit to my beltloops or to my belt because otherwise I would have to start wearing a tallit katan or else alter all of my shirts. Wearing a tallit katan doesn’t seem like a huge imposition for an office worker like myself, and I can imagine myself adopting that practice at some point.

I do not agree with the rabbinic rules about the minimum length of the garment or the percentage of separation in the seam to qualify as a valid corner. These are rules adopted as practical matters over the millennia probably because someone had an argument about it in the forgotten past, not because obedience to the command actually requires it.

Tzitzit Are Intended To Be Seen

And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.
Numbers 15:39-40

Tzitzit are not a ceremonial or “Levitical” command. They are moral. They are intended to help you and everyone around you to keep all of God’s Law, not just the sacrifices.

As I already pointed out, the Deuteronomy passage shows that they help protect against joining God’s people with unbelievers. The longer tzitzit command in Numbers 15:37-41 is similarly situated between descriptions of intentional, “high-handed” sins. The passage that comes before, Numbers 15:30-36, describes a man who despised the immediate presence of God and intentionally violated the Sabbath. The passage that follows, Numbers 16, describes the rebellion of Korah. The clear intent of placing the commandment concerning tzitzit between these two stories is, first, to illustrate that we need constant reminders to keep us focused on what is right, and, second, to point out that those, who commit blatant sins in the presence of constant reminders to the contrary, are not merely weak or mistaken, but are openly rebellious.

If everyone who believes in God and keeps his commandments is wearing tzitzit, then those people who do not and those people who sin in spite of the tzitzit are clearly marked by their behavior as unsuitable for marriage or leadership within God’s people.

I Don’t Need to Wear Tzitzit Because I Know the Torah

Recently, I saw a video of a discussion in which several nominally Torah-observant believers all agreed that they had outgrown the need to wear tzitzit because they had memorized the Ten Commandments and no longer needed memory aides. I was stunned that these people appear to have read and seriously considered Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22 and somehow came away with the impression that they were free to ignore one commandment because they had memorized ten others.

Tzitzit are not about memorizing anything. They are not training wheels. They are about resisting temptation. Everyone is tempted. Everyone needs reminders to resist temptation.

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
Luke 4:1-2

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment [his tzitzit], and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.
Luke 8:43-44

Yeshua, the Son of God and full of the Holy Spirit, was tempted and wore tzitzit. Only one man has ever lived a sinless life. So long as the unresurrected flesh remains to tempt us away from the path that God has laid out for us, we need every help we can get to remain faithful to our God and Savior.

I have studied the Torah for decades, yet I still wear tzitzit every day. I am still only human and need minute-by-minute reminders to keep my mind and heart focused on things above.

If you say that you have outgrown the need for tzitzit, then you are claiming to be above all temptation, and more righteous even than Yeshua.

Tzitzit Throughout the Bible

I could spend the next year writing about coverings and tassels from Scripture and probably not run out of material. Garment corners and fringes are a recurring theme in the histories and prophecies and even in the Apostolic writings. They reveal profound truths about the relationships between husband and wife, God and the world, Messiah and Israel.

I encourage you to look back at the words used in these commandments, to study other passages where they are used. Even if you are determined that tassel-wearing is a “Jewish thing” and not for you, I guarantee that you will gain valuable insights from the study.

Tzitzit, Part 1: the Torah and the Rabbis

When it comes to tzitzit, what traditions really matter?

See Part 2 here.

What Are Tzitzit?

Tzitzit are one of those distinctively “Jewish” things, like tallits and kippahs, that most Christians are aware of at some level, but don’t really understand. Tzitzit is the Hebrew name for the tassel or fringe that many Jews, Messianic Jews, and Hebrew Roots people wear on their clothing. The plural form is tzitziyot—tzitzit is singular—but most people today use the singular form for plural also, like a collective noun.

Tzitzit are also called tassels and fringes. Either of those words might be used in various places, depending on which English translation you are reading.

If you don’t know very many Jews or Torah observant Christians yourself, you’ve probably still seen some people—usually men—with white strings hanging from under their shirt or jacket on television or at the airport without giving it much thought. It’s just part of a religious or ethnic costume, so it tends to get lost in the overall picture of “those people”.

Tzitzit appear either explicitly or by implication in many passages in the Torah, the Psalms, the Prophets, and in the Gospels. Despite this fact, churches rarely teach anything about them. As far as most Christian pastors and theologians are concerned, tzitzit are just one of those things that Jews wore to make sure they looked different than other nations, and since “there is neither Jew nor Greek” in Christ, we don’t need that kind of thing anymore.

Or so we are taught.

That’s really a shame, because tzitzit are connected to some really important spiritual principles. It’s also completely wrong. God didn’t give reasons for all of his instructions, but he did for this one, and it had nothing to do with looking different.

Tzitzit in the Torah

The primary passages that define tzitzit are Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12.

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD your God.”
Numbers 15:37-41 ESV

You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.
Deuteronomy 22:12 ESV

These commands were given to Israel in the Wilderness. The Numbers 15 command was given at the beginning of the forty years, right after the 10 spies brought a bad report of the land, and the Deuteronomy 22 command was part of a recap of the whole Law delivered by Moses just before the people began their conquest of the land.

What Do the Tzitzit Commands Actually Say?

Let’s examine the Hebrew words in these passages so we know what they are really saying.

Make, in both cases, is from the Hebrew word asah, which can be reasonably interpreted to mean make (as in manufacture) or attach. Some people believe this means you should make your own tzitzit, while others believe it’s fine to buy pre-made tassels as long as you attach them to your garment yourself.

Tassel

  • In the Numbers passage the Hebrew word is tzitzit. It refers to a corner or point, and comes from tzit, which means flower or petal. A tzitzit is the pointy end of a tzit.
  • In the Deuteronomy passage the Hebrew word is gedil. It’s only used twice in the Bible, here and in 1 Kings 7:17 to describe wreaths that were carved into the tops of pillars.

Garment is from the Hebrew word beged. It is used throughout the Hebrew scriptures to refer to all kinds of clothing.

Put is from the Hebrew natan. It means to give, put, set, assign, etc.

Cord is from the Hebrew patiyl, and means strand, lace, or ribbon. It is related to the word patal, which means to be twisted, implying that a strand in this sense consists of multiple threads twisted together.

Blue is from the Hebrew tekhelet. The word might have been derived from the name of a mollusk or snail which was used to make a blue dye. Many people believe that it only refers to that blue dye and no others, but there are good reasons to believe it can refer to the color blue, no matter where the dye came from.

Corner is from the Hebrew kanaph. It refers to a wing, extension, extremity, or border. Corner is a reasonable translation in context, but wing or extremity is probably more literally accurate. Since the standard outer garment of the time was probably a large rectangle with an opening for the head, “four extremities” and “four corners” would be synonymous.

A harmonized rendering of the command from the two passages might read like this:

Make/attach tassels on the four extremities of your garments. Include a strand of blue with the tassel of the extremities. When you look at the tassels, they will remind you of all the commandments of YHWH, so that you will obey Him instead of following your own desires.

Although the commandment seems straightforward, there has always been disagreement on exactly how to apply it.

The Traditional Jewish Application

Judaism has a very long history of cumulative interpretation and application of these commands, and has developed detailed regulations on how tzitzit are to be made and worn. Most of these rules are derived from implications of the Biblical text or from practical considerations at one or another time in history. Few of them are based on explicit instructions in the written Torah.

The Materials of Tzitzit

Tzitzit should be made of white wool, and may or may not have a blue thread, depending on whether or not you believe that the specific mollusk from which the dye was originally extracted in Biblical times has been rediscovered or not. The threads that make up the tzitzit must be manufactured specifically for the purpose and may not be used for anything else.

Karaite Jews believe the tzitzit should be made of the same material as the garment to which they are being attached and that any blue dye can be used for the servant thread.

The Form of Tzitzit

There are a few different traditional methods of winding or twisting a tzitzit. The only firm requirements are that there are four white threads doubled over to make eight, and one longer thread (the blue one, if you include it), called a servant thread, is wrapped around the others. These are the two most common patterns:

The Ashkenazi Tzitzit has a double knot, seven windings, a double knot, eight windings, a double knot, eleven windings, a double knot, thirteen windings, and a double knot.

The Sephardic Tzitzit has a double knot, ten windings, a double knot, five windings, a double knot, six windings, a double knot, five windings, and a double knot.

Both methods use five double knots, one between each set of windings and one on each end to secure the whole, with the loose strings at the end twice the length of the knotted section. There are other methods, but the vast majority use one of these two.

Ashkenazi (white) and Sephardic (blue and white) styles of tzitzit windings and knots. See  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tzitzith.jpg for source information.
Ashkenazi (white) and Sephardic (blue and white) styles of tzitzit windings and knots. See https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tzitzith.jpg for source information.

The Placement of Tzitzit

Tzitzit must be attached to the corners of a four-cornered garment worn on the upper body. The garment can be made of any material, but wool and silk are preferred. In order to qualify as four-cornered, the garment must have a significant split along the side seam, usually interpreted as at least half the length of the garment or 18-24 inches. A full tallit gadol satisfies this requirement by being completely open on the sides and long enough to be draped over the shoulders so that the corners hang down in front and back.

The tzitzit must be permanently affixed to the corners, by a hole placed one to two inches from the edge. Tallits have a square of cloth on each corner as reinforcement for this purpose. Jews only wear the tallit gadol during prayer times or on special occasions, such as Yom Kippur and weddings.

A tallit katan is made more like a t-shirt but with the seams joined for only a short length under the arms in order to be sure there are four legitimate corners. Unlike the tallit gadol, it is intended to be worn as an undergarment during all waking hours. The tzitzit can be worn hanging out from beneath a shirt so they are visible or else completely hidden.

Do Women Wear Tzitzit?

In Orthodox Judaism, only men are required to wear tzitzit, but women increasingly wear them also, especially in Reform Judaism. Opinions on whether or not women should wear or are allowed to wear tzitzit change with time and culture. They rarely appear in ancient and medieval art as obvious tassels, but when they do, men and women are both depicted wearing them. Claims that women never wore tzitzit until the modern era are obviously false.

An image from the Codex Rossianus, dated 1453, showing men and women both wearing tzitzit.
An image from the Codex Rossianus, dated 1453, showing men and women both wearing tzitzit.

Most rabbis believe that women are not required to wear them, but may if they desire to do so. Strict Orthodox Jewish rabbis are likely to be more opposed.

Summary and Introduction to Part Two

In this installment, I examined the text of the two commandments to wear tzitzit and surveyed Jewish traditions about making and wearing them.

I know that this will seem dry and pointless to most Christians who do not themselves believe they should be keeping Torah, but we know from Paul’s instructions to Timothy that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine and reproof.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Joshua concurred and read the entire Torah to the native born Israelites and sojourners alike after they had conquered Jericho and Ai.

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
Joshua 8:34-35

If you desire to know the mind of God and the manner in which he wants his people to live, then even these seemingly minor matters should not be neglected.

In the next installment, I’ll describe the Wild West of Messianic and Hebrew Roots tzitzit and return to the Torah to add some historical and scriptural context. That is where you will see the real purpose and value of tzitzit.

Continue to Part 2.

You’re the Ranger, not Ford Motor Company

Recently I quoted John 14:15 (If you love me, you will keep my commandments.) in an online forum and an atheist troll replied with Deuteronomy 25:11-12 (If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.).

Now, unless I’m in the mood for a fight, I know better than to feed the trolls, so I didn’t respond to him. But even though I know he’s a troll, he has a good point.

As our Creator, God gets to decide what's best for us.God commands quite a few things in Torah that don’t set lightly with most Westerners today. If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them rescues her husband by striking or seizing the other man’s testicles, should we cut off her hand? If a man is caught with another man’s wife, should we drag them both out to the city gates and stone them to death? Should we execute rebellious teenagers?

It all seems a little harsh, doesn’t it? This is a very common and understandable reaction to God’s commands.

Before I say anything else, let me make this clear: God is the judge of right and wrong, not us. Since he created everything, he also gets to define everything, including love and hate. If God says this is love and that is hate, then that’s just the way it is. Get used to it.

Fortunately God isn’t arbitrary. He does everything in good order and with good reason, even though he doesn’t always tell us what his reasons are. If God says that stoning a rebellious son is the loving thing to do, then we can be sure he’s right and that we just don’t have enough information to judge.

Most people who reflexively raise these points as reasons not to obey God are missing one or more (usually many more) pieces of relevant data.

Take this sentence, for example, without punctuation and context.

Lets go eat grandma

You can’t tell from reading that sentence if someone is inviting grandma to eat lunch with them or inviting someone else to eat grandma for lunch. Translators encounter this kind of problem all the time. Hebrew can be especially difficult because the original biblical Hebrew doesn’t have punctuation or vowel markings, and we are separated from the original writers and audiences by thousands of years. Translators have to rely very heavily on contextual clues and traditional interpretations to understand what any given passage is actually saying.

One passage very commonly quoted as an example of Biblical unreasonableness is “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” etc., but how many quoters could actually tell you where it is written in Scripture? It’s actually in several places within the Torah, and the most common interpretation of all of them among both Jewish and Christian theologians throughout the ages is that the lex talionis (law of retaliation) was never meant to be applied literally. It describes a system of tallying monetary restitution, not physical retaliation.

Another common objection is to the stoning of the rebellious youth. This too, is usually cited by people who have probably never read the original passage, let alone attempted to understand it. If they had taken the time to examine the source, they would have discovered that the conditions demanded by Torah before a son could be executed for “rebellion” are quite stringent and that both parents must be agreed that the action is necessary. The requirements are so stringent, in fact, that this trial and punishment have probably never been carried out in all the history of ancient Israel. (See here for further discussion.)

“But what about slavery?” They will inevitably object. Yes, God’s Law allows for slavery, but it doesn’t encourage it and places some restrictions on it that make it a very different kind of institution than what existed in antebellum America and still exists in much of the non-Western world today. For example, Hebrew slaves must be released after 6 years ,and if a master broke so much as a single tooth of a slave, the slave must be set free.

I could address all of the rest of Torah’s presumed draconian requirements, but each and every one would prove to be of the same sort, misunderstandings caused by ignorance and hearsay.

In the end, God created us and knows what we need. If love consists of doing what is best for someone, who knows better what is best, the Creator or the created? If you’re not sure of the answer, then I suggest you ask your auto mechanic who knows best how to service a Ford Ranger, the Ford Motor Company or the Ranger.

Wise Choices Early in Life Make Happier, Stronger Families

A parallelism in Deuteronomy 20-21
A parallelism in Deuteronomy 20-21

The starts and stops of this parallelism mark it off pretty clearly, but some of the details might be difficult for some to see.

The second half (Deuteronomy 21:10-23) is a progression from what was probably a bad decision to its tragic consequences: A man captures a woman in a raid on a foreign city and decides to keep her. She’s not to keen on the idea and makes life unbearable for him. Their son learns from his mother and becomes a serious problem. At some point either the son has to be killed or he ends up killing someone else.

The first half (Deuteronomy 20:1-21:9) contains separate laws by itself, but the parallelism provides insight into what it’s like living in the crazy house with the captive war bride and her rebellious son. Besieging a foreign city (or being besieged by foreigners) probably isn’t very different from living with a woman you hate & who likely returns your antipathy. Besieging a city of idolaters within your own borders must be something like trying to correct a rebellious and stubborn son before finally giving him up as hopeless and deciding it/he must be excised like a cancer.

The really curious part to me is the reversal towards the end. Why does part one go from trees to an unsolved murder, while part two goes from a solved murder to trees? Perhaps because in the former case the subject acted wisely and preserved the fruit of the land (his children), while in the latter, through foolishness, he turned the rightful order of life on its head and converted his life-giving trees/sons into instruments of death.

The Cause & Stoning of a Rebel

The Making of a Rebellious SonDeuteronomy 21:10-23, like so many passages in the Torah, at first appears to be a random assemblage of rules. When you look closer, however, you might see a pattern emerge:

V10-14 – A man marries a beautiful woman who was captured in war.
V15 – The man now has two wives, one loved and one unloved.
V16-19 – The son of the unloved wife is also unloved.
V20-23 – The unloved son rebels against his father, turns to crime, and eventually becomes a murderer.

A man has gone out to war and returned home with an exceptionally beautiful woman whose entire family has been killed. She has every reason in the world to hate him, and the wife who was waiting for him at home during the campaign is not likely to be pleased either. The man doesn’t love his first wife or it’s very likely he wouldn’t have wanted the second one, certainly not under these circumstances. Competition, complication, and soon: domestic conflagration.

He follows this unwise decision by diminishing the inheritance of his first wife’s (or second, the text isn’t specific) innocent son who responds by rebelling against the rule of both his parents, eventually resorting to crime.

There are two pieces of evidence that point to the prodigal being very young.

First, the character of a grown man isn’t likely to be terribly effected by his father’s foolish decisions. The character of a child, however, can be scarred, strengthened, or warped beyond repair by experiences early in life.

Second, the Jewish sages say that the law concerning stoning a rebellious son was intended to take the boy out of the world before he does something, like murder, that would place his soul beyond all hope. Hence, it would only apply during a six-month twilight of adolescence between childhood, during which time he would not be held responsible for his criminal behavior, and adulthood, when he would be fully accountable for his own actions.*

I’m not convinced the sages were correct in their assessment of the law’s applicability, but I agree that the placement of that command towards the end of this domestic downward spiral indicates that the first domino was toppled by the boy’s father and not by the boy himself. This doesn’t excuse him. The murderer or adulterer or homosexual in verse 22 is still to be executed for his own crimes regardless of what his father did or didn’t do.

The thing I want you to take away from this, the most important thing that is not even written in the text, is that the consequences of your behavior as a man or woman even in the earliest stages of your marriage–indeed even before you marry at all–will ripple through generations of your descendants.

Be very careful in choosing a mate. “Listen to your heart” sounds honest and sweet, but it might be the most foolish advice anyone has ever given. (On the other hand, anyone who takes advice from pop singers probably deserves his fate.) Don’t marry the first girl who bats her eyelashes at you or the first boy who tells you he loves you. Don’t rely only on your own judgment, but seek out counsel from the elders of your community, from people with many more years of experience and wisdom. Your urges, your instincts, your “heart” is far more likely to lead you to destruction than to happiness.

Being in love is wonderful, but marrying someone just because you’re in love is stupid and selfish. The great secret that none of those pop stars will tell you is that you can choose to fall in love and you can choose to allow yourself to fall out of love again. Physical attraction is important, of course, and requires a certain amount of raw material to work with, but beyond the mere physical, it takes work to build a quality relationship and it takes even more to maintain it. If you aren’t willing to carry some heavy burdens, my advice to you is don’t even start down the road.

Don’t try to be ready for marriage and family before you start. You will never be ready for marriage or children or any other great thing in life until you are well into it, maybe not until it’s long over. Rather, get used to the idea that you won’t be strolling through flowery meadows ever after. There will be cliffs and rivers and mountains to cross. You’ll need determination, and more than anything, you’ll need a map and good directions.

Your stupid decisions today could be devastating for your children ten or thirty years from now. Keep your eyes and ears open, and walk prayerfully.

* Incidentally, the rabbis also say that there has never been an occassion to put this law to use.

The Heart of Every Enduring Civilization

If we value our nation, our civilization, we must protect the institutions that are common to all strong, enduring peoples, especially marriage.

No sane and knowledgeable person disputes the fact that the nuclear family is at the core of all civilized society. From Israel to China to Britain, every civilization that stood for more than mere decades codified the defense of marriage in their laws. When those civilizations reached their heights and began to suffer all the depredations of pride, they disregarded the sanctity of marriage. Temple prostitution, homosexuality, divorce… They each began to fall. You can’t chisel away the structural support of a building and expect the walls and roof to remain intact for long.

If we value our nation, our civilization, we must protect the institutions that are common to all strong, enduring peoples:

  • Rule of Law
  • Family and Community
  • Cohesive Religion
  • Marriage

Most importantly, marriage.

And I do not mean the equalitarian business partnership which that word seems to bring to mind for most modern Americans. I mean the only form of marriage that has proven itself throughout history as the nucleus of strong families, communities, and nations. The kind of marriage instituted by God, not by men, women, and lawyers.

God’s Law (the Torah, the first five books of the Bible) tells us how God intended marriage to be, and His intentions were not politically correct. Marriage in God’s plan is patriarchal, fertile, and strong. In today’s America marriage is equalitarian, barren, and frail, a very weak support indeed for such a large and diverse nation.

The requirements of God’s Law aren’t always easy. They aren’t always what we would want. But they are always right because God is always right. He knows you and every other person at a deeper level, more intimate and thorough than we or any therapist could ever hope to realize. If we are uncomfortable with God’s prescriptions for healthy relationships, perhaps the problem is not with the Doctor, but with the patient.

If we are to restore a robust and enduring America, then it’s far past time to put God’s plan for marriage ahead of our own. It’s time to get back to the basics and relearn what we once knew about relationships, about men and women and the very core of a strong nation.


I’ll Take That Texas

Texas Longhorn

I always enjoyed my visits to Texas because of how friendly everyone was. Everyone smiles, says hello, and is very polite.

Then I moved here, started a computer support business from nothing, and relearned that people everywhere can be rude, conniving, and generally unpleasant.

This morning on my way into town I noticed a stray cow–a big Texas longhorn–that was standing on the shoulder of the highway with cars passing by at 70 to 80 mph. Sensing disaster not too far in the future, I grabbed my phone to call the police. Before I could flip the phone open, I remembered Deuteronomy 22:1-4.

(1) You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep go astray and hide yourself from them. You shall surely bring them again to your brother. (2) And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him [i.e. do not know to whom the animal belongs], then you shall bring it into your own house, and it shall be with you until your brother seeks after it, and you shall give it back to him again. (3) In the same way you shall do with his ass. And so shall you do with his clothing. And with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do the same. You may not hide yourself. (4) You shall not see your brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide yourself from them. You shall surely help him to lift it up again.

It’s not the police’s job to return lost animals. It’s mine.

I could see where the cow had broken through the fence, so I knew which ranch it was. I drove through the gate and kept driving until I found a house. The rancher, Dan, was awake, of course, but wasn’t exactly expecting company and spilled coffee all over the floor when I knocked. I told him about the cow and asked if he needed help. Dan accepted the offer, and we drove around to the highway in his truck.

When we arrived back at the break, a patrol car was there and officer Brad was attempting to keep ole Bessie away from the road. The three of us together successfully chased her back across the fence. (Have you ever seen a cow jump!?) After introductions and a suitable few minutes of small talk, the policeman left the scene of the crime, and the rancher asked me to stand there and make sure the cow didn’t jump the fence again while he retrieved the materials to repair that section.

Longhorns are big, sturdy animals, and although they might seem like the bison’s retarded cousin, this one was no stranger to scheming. She stood there for at least five minutes staring me down, inching closer to the fence, as if daring me to stop her. And really, if she decided to jump, what was I going to do? Those horns are sharp, and they’re attached to a whole lot of steak. The fence was weighed down with years worth of vine growth, and when I climbed on top of the pile and put my hands on my hips, she finally backed down and walked away.

Dan arrived a few minutes later with a fence panel and a roll of barbed wire, and we got to closing the gap. Just then a man named Scotty, driving a large, black F250, pulls over and asks if we need help. It turns out he’s a vice president at a local bank and knows who to call to get some workers. He said he could have someone there in thirty minutes, but Dan told him we’d have it done by then. (It actually took a little over an hour more to clear out the underbrush enough to get the new panel in, but who’s counting?) Then another car pulls over. An elderly woman wearing pink and carrying an umbrella asked Scotty if he was having car trouble. She started a bit when she spotted Dan and I over in the weeds. Seeing that everything was under control, she wished everyone a good day and both she and Scotty went about their respective businesses.

When everything was done, Dan’s arms were bleeding from a dozen small wounds caused by thorns and barbs, but he invited me to join him for lunch anyway. He introduced me to his dogs and herd of donkeys at the house, then he cleaned up before we went out for cheeseburgers. (He wanted steak, probably just as a gesture of goodwill toward Bessie the bullheaded cow, but his favorite steakhouse wasn’t open.) We chatted about the ranching and computer businesses over lunch, and Dan told me I should be sure to visit Scotty at his office. “He’s a good man to know around here.” He said the locals can be a very tight-knit community, and Scotty knows everybody. He also told me about how well they all look out for each other.

When I first decided to find that cow’s owner, I was a little irritated at the animal for disrupting my schedule, but I’m glad she did. It was a good morning, even if I did have to change my clothes and take another shower. Brad and Dan and Scotty and the unknown Good Samaritan lady restored my faith in Texas. There are two worlds here just like everywhere else. There’s the world of McDonalds and Walmart where people don’t know each other and don’t want to. Then there’s the world of communities and neighbors looking out for each other.

I’ll take that second Texas. China probably owns the other one anyway.