Please pray for Aaron - his condition has worsened

Shalom friends,

Some of you know my younger brother Aaron drowned near his home in Israel. He has been in a coma since August.


We just got word from the embassy this morning that Aaron's condition has worsened and that he may die within weeks.

But life and death are ultimately in God's hands, so I ask you to pray for him. Proverbs tells us to "Trust in the Lord with your whole heart, and lean not on your own understanding." I don't know why Aaron drowned or why he is in a coma. I don't know why he would die. There's no understanding tragedies like this. So I trust that the Lord is good and does what is right.

I know that God has the power to raise up a person from the dead, let alone from a coma. But it's not our will, but God's.

There are numerous documented cases of God healing people from comas. My grandmother recently shared this article, referencing an article from USA Today where a young woman in a coma was declared brain dead and taken off of life support. Before she died, a family friend prayed for her, and to the surprise of her doctors, she woke from her coma and lived.

Of course, the other side is also true: numerous instances where a person in a coma was prayed for, and God sends no healing. God isn't a celestial butler to whom we make demands. We only ask His will.

And that's what I ask for you, friends: please pray for Aaron and ask God's will be done with his life. And read a psalm over Aaron, would you? I was reading Psalm 38 this morning after I received the news. The psalms were a huge influence on Aaron -- Aaron wrote many songs of yearning and longing based on the Scriptures -- and I think praying the Word of God over Aaron is good and right and holy.

With all that said, if Aaron lives, I'll bless God. And if he dies, I'll bless God.

Thank you, friends.

Loneliness and the Divine Ideal

Dennis Prager on the foundational Biblical statement, “It is not good for man to be alone”:


I find Prager’s statement profound:

It says that male-female marriage is the divine ideal — when society says there is no ideal.

It says children are not a replacement for a spouse — when many divorcées burden their adult children as such.

It says that communities — even religious communities — are not a substitute for a spouse.

It says that marriage is the highest form of commitment — when society says two people living together is just as acceptable.

It says that men and women need each other — when feminism says “women need men like fish need a bicycle.”

It says that God sees loneliness as “not good” — in our age where divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, and loneliness are at all-time highs.

It says monogamy is the best condition for human happiness — at a time when polyamory and sleeping with many partners is increasingly accepted as normative, and at a time when certain religious fundamentalists -- Mormon, Hebrew Roots, Islamic fundamentalists -- are pushing for a return of polygamy.

Does a relationship with God fix human loneliness? Prager says no:

“God declared Adam “alone” despite the fact that Adam had a relationship with God. The lesson? God declares that even He, God, does not fully assuage our aloneness. God is essential, but we also need people.”

God wants us to enjoy the pleasures of the world

Quick, what is the first biblical commandment related to eating?

Most people, even those familiar with the Bible, will answer, "Do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge", referring back to Genesis 2. But this is incorrect. The first commandment is to eat from all the other trees, a commandment given in the first chapter of the Bible.

Jewish conservative luminary Dennis Prager argues this shows how people focus on the negative -- what we shouldn't do -- more than the positive. In his book, The Rational Bible: Genesis, Prager remarks:

This is like a parent taking a child to a supermarket and telling the child to take anything he or she wants....but then adding that one item, and only one item, is off limits. Human nature is such that most children -- and adults as well -- would focus on the negative prohibition. But God wants us to partake of the world's pleasures. The Talmud is quite emphatic about this: "In the future world, a man will be required to give an accounting for every permitted pleasure he could have experienced but refused to." (Kiddushin 4)

-Dennis Prager, The Rational Bible: Genesis

A great many Jews and Christians focus on the negative: don't eat this, don't do that, avoid this, stay away from that. We should avoid divinely forbidden things and for good reason; God understands what's ultimately good for humanity better than we do. But I wonder, are we falling prey to the same instinctual human tendency to focus solely on the negative?

And yet, God wants us to enjoy the permitted pleasures of the world. While there are 365 "you shall nots" in the Torah, there remains 248 "you shalls." Are we neglecting the latter?

This is a weird post for me to write because the world without God is all in favor of pleasure to do anything you want. But there seems evidence enough to explore seriously the idea that God wants us to enjoy the world.

Recently, two posts on social media had me thinking about this question of whether we should enjoy the pleasures of the world or forego them. I figure it's a good motivator for posting about it. 😊 Here are the posts:

1. 

2.

Both of these Facebook friends posted something about diet, and I found myself commenting on both of them. You've undoubtedly witnessed similar things in your own circles, whether the prohibition is against meat, soda, fat, sugar, lactose, gluten, carbs, or something else in the long list of once-permitted pleasures.

The first post about veganism is by a Messianic Judaism adherent who is giving up meat in the belief that "Adam through Noah didn't eat meat", and how "that's the way God intended us to live in the beginning", saying "I've always wondered why pre-Flood people lived so long."

The second post about soda is by a Jewish believer friend, and author of Messianic Meow satire site, who linked to a Washington Post article claiming that drinking soda leads to an early grave.

I don't mind that people eat vegan or skip soda. The New Testament addresses vegetarianism in Romans: "Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind." That's my philosophy about veganism, soda, and other disputable matters.

(With regards to the soda article, I am skeptical of such dietary research claims on the internet because of the combined problems of conflicting research conclusions and perverse commercial incentives from both researchers and publishers. That's a story for another time.)

When I see articles like these, I must ask, doesn't God want us to enjoy the world?

I don't mean forbidden things; whoring around, "enjoying" addictive vices, etc. Shooting heroin for the first time has been described as "being kissed by God", but the end result of heroin addiction is a satanic death grip that quite literally destroys your life.

When I say God wants us to enjoy the pleasures of the world, I of course mean permitted pleasures: hiking a beautiful mountain, eating tasty foods, boating on a pristine lake, enjoying a glass of wine, having sex with your spouse, meeting new people, eating a good bar of chocolate, listening to great music. Aren't these the sorts of things God wants us to enjoy?

Yet here we religious people stand, banning all kinds of things permitted by God. Some religious communities forego...

  • Electricity - Amish Christian
  • Mobile phones - Ultra Orthodox Judaism
  • Modern medicine - Amish, Ultra Orthodox Judaism
  • Blood transfusions - Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Bathing suits - fundamentalist Christian sects
  • Alcohol - Mormonism, Islam, certain Christian sects
  • A woman showing any skin besides her eyeballs - fundamentalist Islam
  • Hearing a woman sing - Orthodox Judaism
  • Mingling of men and women - Ultra Orthodox Judaism
  • Touching (e.g. shaking hands with) a woman besides your wife - Chabad Orthodox Judaism
  • Music - various Christian sects
  • Meat of any kind - various Christian and Hindu sects
  • Smoking - various Christian sects
  • Seeing the hair of any woman besides your wife - Ultra Orthodox Jewish sects, Islamic sects
  • Dancing - various Christian sects (heck, we have a Hollywood blockbuster devoted to this 😂)
  • No rubber on buggy wheels, so as to avoid making this life too easy - Amish Christian sects
...I could keep going, but you get the idea. Religious people like to forbid things that aren't forbidden by God. Isn't that a problem?

In the Torah, during the Biblical feasts when all Israel went up to the Temple, God commanded Israel to rejoice with eating rich foods and even commands Israel to enjoy strong drink for the holy days:

"[During the holy days] if [the Temple] is too far away for you to travel, then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other strong drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice."

-Deuteronomy 14:23-27
One of God's commandments in the Torah is literally to eat some fresh red meat and drink strong alcohol, and thus, rejoice before God. That's not a message you'll likely hear on Sundays - or Saturdays!

The great preacher Charles Sturgeon seemed to have understood that it's good to enjoy life. He scheduled each day of his life down to the hour, so as not to waste any time the Lord gave him. But every week on his Sunday schedule, he allotted one hour to "smoke a cigar to the glory of the Lord." 😂

Likewise, Spurgeon is recorded to having eaten like a king, received excellent healthcare, vacationed in southern France, and traveled first-class. A laypreacher once confronted Spurgeon about this "decadence" during a chance encounter on a train. "I'm travelling third-class, saving the Lord's money", said the laypreacher. "I'm traveling first-class, saving the Lord's servant", replied Spurgeon.

Will eating lots of red meat shorten your lifespan? Maybe. Will drinking copious amounts of Coca Cola bring you to an early grave? It's entirely possible.

But, I'm personally willing to trade a little time in old age -- which may not be all that enjoyable anyways -- for a little joy here today. No diet, no lifestyle, no foregoing of life's pleasures will prevent your inevitable demise. As the comedian Redd Foxx once said,

"Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing."

Now, excuse me while I go eat a juicy, seasoned, medium rare T-Bone. Heaven requires it!