Supreme Court Preview of Holt v. Hobbs

Supreme Court Preview of Holt v. Hobbs: When in the Era of Extreme Religious Liberty Can State Prison Administrators Enforce Security Needs?

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear argument in the case of Holt v. Hobbs, in which a Muslim inmate in an Arkansas prison is arguing for the right under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to have a beard in violation of the prison’s rules. RLUIPA is the federal law that imposes on local and state governments the same standard as that imposed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) federal law, and which was at issue in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. To wit, a prison may not substantially burden an inmate’s free exercise of religion unless serving a compelling interest in the least restrictive means. The standard is one that was never applied to prisons before RFRA and RLUIPA appeared on the horizon in 1993 and 2000 respectively.

Currently, the Arkansas prison officials in this case permit ¼-inch beards for medical reasons (which likely means they must also for religious reasons under the First Amendment), but they have objected to Holt’s demands for a longer beard. The advocates for extreme religious liberty have heaped condescension on the prison authorities for their concerns. It’s just a ¼ inch, right?

But what is really at stake is how deeply involved federal courts will become in the micromanagement of state prisons and the nationalization of religious accommodation across all local, state, and federal prison systems. Not to mention how prisons are supposed to handle their most violent inmates with the federal courts looking over their shoulders.

The Prison Policy and the Jihadist Inmate

This prison policy, which is common among state prisons, was implemented for “health and hygiene”; to maintain a “standard appearance throughout . . . incarceration”; to “minimize opportunities for disguise”; and to “minimize opportunities for transport of contraband and weapons.” These are interests few could denigrate, unless they do not know how prisons operate or what prisoners are like.

The inmate in this case is a jihadist, who was indicted for threatening the lives of the daughters of Pres. George W. Bush, and was in prison for breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s home, slitting her throat, and stabbing her in the chest. While in prison, he was caught holding a knife to an inmate’s throat. In other words, he was violent inside and outside prison.

Eighteen states submitted the sole amicus brief in support of the prison, but in my view it is the brief the Justices and their clerks need to read the most closely. The federal courts are inclined to set a single standard across the country, but the states have warned the Court that when it comes to the fifty state and hundreds of municipal prisons, and the different demographics of the prison population across the country, one size does not fit all:

“Prison life is not civilian life, and federal judges are not equipped to weigh the unique security concerns and resource constraints faced by prison administrators. Staffing and funding levels vary, as do the physical layouts and disciplinary problems of each prison. Prison administrators are in the best position to craft the restrictions necessary to maintain health and safety in the unique context of each prison’s environment.”

The Supreme Court Precedent That Matters the Most

The legal debate revolves around dictum in the Court’s unanimous decision, Cutter v. Wilkinson, where the Court upheld RLUIPA’s prison provisions against a facial Establishment Clause attack. The unanimous opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was leavened with prescriptions to the federal courts to defer to prison administrators’ judgments on prison security. The Court relied upon the legislative history of RLUIPA: “Lawmakers anticipated . . . that courts entertaining complaints under §3 would accord ‘due deference to the experience and expertise of prison and jail administrators.’” Later on, the decision noted that members of Congress “anticipated that courts would apply the Act’s standard with ‘due deference to the experience and expertise of prison and jail administrators in establishing necessary regulations and procedures to maintain good order, security and discipline, consistent with consideration of costs and limited resources.’”

The Respondent prison embraces the dictum of Cutter, asking the Court to give due deference to the views of prison administrators on security, which decisions are made on a system-by-system basis in light of the inmate needs and demands in that system. The states’ amicus brief further argues, “It is the considered opinion of the amici States that Cutter’s deferential test appropriately balances the religious liberty of inmates with the unique institutional concerns of prison life. The Court should continue to ascribe ‘due deference to the experience and expertise of prison and jail administrators.’” It only makes sense that beard length matters, because uniformity of appearance is necessary for guards to be able to identify the troublemakers from the rest. Moreover, it is a commonplace that inmates hide contraband wherever they can and prison systems struggled with the cost of having to visually check beards that are longer. They also rightly complain that federal courts should not be in the business of undermining prison security unless there is some massive statistical survey or study for each particular practice.

Holt, the Petitioner, insists that RLUIPA must be read solely according to its expansive terms, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s reading of RFRA’s terms in Hobby Lobby, and Cutter means little for this case. That means the prison must prove with specificity and preferably with studies and statistics that its beard-length policy is the least restrictive means for this inmate. It is not enough for prison administrators from Arkansas and 18 other states to aver that this is a needed security measure. The Petitioner also argues that if other prison systems would permit him to have his half-inch beard, then this one must, too: “At least 43 states and prison systems, several large municipal systems, and national accreditation standards would allow Petitioner’s beard.”

For the Petitioner, the cost of inmate-by-inmate beard inspections is a joke, and the overall cost of litigating RLUIPA claims inmate-by-inmate across all prison systems in the United States poses no concern at all. On the Petitioner’s view of the universe (and that of the many religious groups that filed amicus briefs in this case), the right to extreme religious liberty should come at any cost to the government (aka the taxpayers) and the federal courts properly oversee every particularized claim for religious accommodation in the United States, with a growing list of mandated accommodations across all prisons, regardless of the prison’s inmate population, budget, or religious makeup.

If Cutter cabined RLUIPA, as its dictum seems to indicate, and as Justice Ginsburg reiterated in her dissent to Hobby Lobby, the state should win this case, and the federal courts will not be in the business of micromanaging every accommodation in every prison. If the inmate wins this one, RLUIPA will reveal itself as the intense invasion of federalism it is, and the federal courts will need to adjust their dockets to free up time and resources to serve as super prison boards. Since Congress imposed RLUIPA on the prisons and the federal courts, it is only fair for it to appropriate more funding for the federal judiciary so as to accommodate all of the likely future demands for RLUIPA-engineered accommodations prisoner by prisoner.

REAL ID IS COMING TO BITE AMERICA…NAZI-LIKE TENDENCIES & HISTORY REPEATS

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> W A R N I N G A M E R I C A <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Oklahoma residents will soon need passport to hit the skies
SEPTEMBER 18, 2014
BY HEATHER WARNER

Traveling out of the airport is about to become a little bit harder in Oklahoma. That’s because an Oklahoma driver’s license will no longer be accepted at security at the beginning of the new year.

All Oklahoma residents will need a passport, even on domestic flights. The state never signed on to the federal government’s Real ID act, which is supposed to make it harder for potential terrorists to get a fake i-d. Now travelers will have to bring extra identification with them to the airport.

“You would be required to have a drivers license or passport or some other federal id to actually go through the TSA checkpoint or fly on a commercial aircraft,” says Karen Carney of Will Rogers World Airport. One passenger at the airport says he’s all for it. “If everybody does it and I do it, it makes it safer for all of us I guess.”

Oklahoma citizens will also have to bring their passport to get through security at federal buildings, such as a federal courthouse.

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REAL ID Implementation Embraced by 41 States
Driver’s Licenses Still at Risk of Terrorist Abuse

Janice Kephart is the Director of National Security Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies.

While driver’s licenses and birth certificates remain a tool sought by terrorists to support jihad in the United States, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is still pushing for repeal of driver’s license and birth certificate standards supported by 9/11 Commission recommendations. Ironically, Secretary Napolitano continues to assail the REAL ID Act’s standards despite new statistics — still held tightly within DHS — showing that 41 states, plus D.C., have embraced REAL ID implementation even without DHS support or new monies.

The importance of secure identification was re-emphasized just last month in Senate testimony by the former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission:

Standardize Secure Identifications

Eighteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers obtained 30 state-issued IDs amongst them that enabled them to more easily board planes on the morning of 9/11. Due to the ease with which fraud was used to obtain legitimate IDs that helped the hijackers embed and assimilate in the U.S. for the purpose of carrying out a terrorist act, the 9/11 Commission recommended that ‘The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.’

The REAL ID Act established these standards by statute. In 2008, detailed regulations were issued setting standards and benchmarks for driver’s license issuance. While nearly one-third of the states have complied with the first tier of benchmarks, the deadlines for compliance have been pushed back twice to May 2011, and a recent announcement pushed back compliance again until January 2013. The delay in compliance creates vulnerabilities and makes us less safe. No further delay should be authorized, rather compliance should be accelerated. [Emphasis added.]

Terrorists Still Seek Driver’s Licenses. On February 23, 2011, the FBI filed an extensive, detailed criminal complaint with a tremendous amount of forensic evidence indicating that a Saudi foreign student, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, who entered the United States on a student visa, had done so for the sole purpose of using our educational and visa system to commit major terrorist acts. His targets included former President Bush’s home and dams and other key infrastructure, intending to use a variety of homemade car bombs assembled with knowledge gained in chemical engineering classrooms and chemicals and materials purchased here in the United States. What did Aldawsari intend to use in order to embed in the United States and avoid detection? Multiple state-issued driver’s licenses and a U.S. passport based on fake birth certificates, not a particularly dissimilar method to the 19 9/11 terrorists who had 30 state-issued IDs between them and also used fraud to game the driver’s license system. The Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari criminal complaint specifically mentions that his plan for jihad depended in part on well-known terrorist travel methodology:

In a ‘synopsis of important steps,’ ALDAWSARI listed: obtaining a forged US birth certificate; applying for a US passport and driver’s license; traveling to New York for at least a week; renting a car via the Internet; changing clothes and appearance before picking up the car; using a different driver’s license for each car he rents; preparing the bombs for remote detonation; putting the bombs into the cars and taking them to different places during rush hour; and leaving the city for a safe place. [p. 10]

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari might have been successful but for his dogged determination to accumulate as much precursor chemicals as possible (for the explosives), for which Carolina Biological Supply rightly reported his purchases to law enforcement. The Aldawsari case shows that not much has changed in the world of terrorist travel since the publication of the 9/11 Commission Report and the supporting staff monograph, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel: driver’s licenses are still an important tool in the terrorists’ toolbox, whether a lone actor or a member of a larger organization. Aldawsari is a significant example of why it is important to prevent fake birth certificates and other lies about identity from being used to obtain legitimate state-issued driver’s licenses. It is important to remain vigilant about assuring that people are who they say they are. At its base, that is what the REAL ID Act is about: assuring that driver’s license applicants are who they say they are, from the sum-total of the identity documents they present as applicants.

REAL ID Implementation Embraced. Secretary Napolitano has again extended the deadline for states to comply with the minimum standards of REAL ID, to exactly the time frame she could be leaving office: January 2013. Ironically, however, the states have not paid much attention to Napolitano or to the fact that federal monies for REAL ID have all but dried up. Instead, the states are complying with REAL ID in numbers that exceed what I published in January 2011 in “REAL ID Implementation: Less Expensive, Doable, and Helpful in Reducing Fraud”, which is summarized as follows:

[The] 2005 REAL ID law … based on recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, is proving to be easier to implement and less expensive than critics have alleged for years. In fact, 11 states have already fulfilled the critical first stage of REAL ID compliance — meaning they have fulfilled all 18 REAL ID security benchmarks for material compliance — ahead of the May 2011 deadline. Additionally, many other states have implemented or are in the process of implementing more secure procedures, systems, and documents consistent with the requirements of REAL ID. The next stage requires all individuals under age 50 as of December 1, 2014, to be issued (by that date) a driver’s license or identification card that complies with all of the REAL ID requirements if the document is to be presented for official federal purposes such as boarding a commercial aircraft. The final stage requires all eligible individuals using a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for official federal purposes to be issued REAL ID-compliant licenses by December 1, 2017.

According to internal, official government information which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not shared with Congress beyond the House and Senate appropriators, there are not only 11 states that have fulfilled the first 18 material compliance benchmarks as I reported in January, but another five that have submitted full compliance packages to the DHS, meaning they are asking DHS to certify that the state has met all the criteria for REAL ID, criteria that were not required to be completed even under the old deadline until December 1, 2014. Twelve more states have told DHS they are fully committed to meeting material compliance, but need more time, while another four states have comparable Enhanced Driver’s License programs that former DHS Secretary Chertoff stated were REAL ID-compliant.

Beyond these 32 states that have already met at least REAL ID material compliance, another 12 states have written and assured DHS that they are seeking to meet at least 15 of 18 of the material compliance standards. In total, of the 50 U.S. states and six territories, 44 (41 states and three territories) of them have given DHS the green light that they are on board and working toward REAL ID compliance. Of the remaining nine states and three territories, three of those states have laws banning the state from compliance yet two of them are meeting REAL ID standards without using the REAL ID name. All in all, that leaves only six states that appear to have little interest in REAL ID implementation.

REAL ID Implementation Status State / Territory
Submitted full compliance certification packages to DHS1 Conn., Del., Md., S.D., Tenn. (5)
Self-certified: Issuing materially compliant licenses (meeting the first 18 benchmarks) + compliance mark (gold star) Ala., Fla., Ind., Utah (4)
Self-certified: Issuing materially compliant licenses (meeting the first 18 benchmarks) Ark., D.C., Iowa, Kan., Ky., Miss., N.J. (7)
Committed to meeting material compliance but need time Colo., Hawaii, Ill., Neb., Ohio, Puerto Rico, R.I., Texas, Va., W.Va., Wis., Wyo. (12)
Certifiable Enhanced Driver’s License programs N.Y., Mich, Vt., Wash. (4)
Committed to meeting 15 of 18 benchmarks Ariz., Calif., Ga., Minn, Mo., Nev., N.H., N.C., N.D., Pa., S.C., U.S. Virgin Islands (12)
Will not meet four or more benchmarks in the next 12 months Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Idaho, La., Maine, Mass., Mont., N.M., Okla., Ore., N. Marianas2 (12)
Note 1 According to DHS, other states have assured DHS that once DHS proves its willingness to certify states’ compliance packages, they will take the extra steps to assemble and submit the required packages.

Note 2 Montana, Oklahoma, and Washington have laws preventing REAL ID implementation, although Washington state has tried to repeal the law, and does have an Enhanced Driver License. Montana has strict issuing standards but they are not intended to be in line with REAL ID.

Birth Certificate Standard Implementation. The 9/11 Commission also recommended minimum standards for birth certificates, for reasons made evident in the above excerpt from the Aldawsari criminal complaint. In February 2011, I updated birth record standardization implementation in “Update on Digitization of Vital Records.” The good news is that in the past month, Georgia and New York City have completed installation of the hardware and software necessary to support electronic vital records checks, and Vermont has begun the process (as shown in the updated map below). This means there are now 30 states online ready to perform birth certificate verification for other state DMVs and other users. If states want to shore up against attempts by terrorists such as Aldawsari, criminals, and illegal aliens, they should consider providing DMV connectivity as soon as practicable, even though it is not a strict requirement of REAL ID.

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Congressional Annoyance. While the congressional disillusionment with the REAL ID Act that existed from 2005-2009 has now shifted with proof and value of REAL ID implementation, Secretary Napolitano has kept that implementation hidden from view and continued to seek the law’s repeal. She has now extended the compliance deadline of the REAL ID Act rule by 20 months, citing that, “[t]he inability of States to fully comply with the requirements of REAL ID by May 11, 2011, is the result of a number of factors, including diminished State budgets caused by the economic downturn and the uncertainty throughout much of the 111th Congress about Congressional action on the PASS ID Act.” Her statement, as shown in the numbers being held by her own department, implies noncompliance, rather than the truth: “uncertainty” was created by her push for repeal of REAL ID.

Here are some of the secretary’s statements creating that “uncertainty;” note the erroneous assertion that REAL ID repeal meets the intent of 9/11 Commission recommendations regarding the setting minimum standards for driver’s licenses:

April 22, 2009: “And so we’ve been, over the last weeks, meeting with governors of both parties to look at a way to repeal REAL ID and substitute something else that pivots off of the driver’s license but accomplishes some of the same goals.”
— Speech delivered before the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Conference

June 15, 2009: “I am committed to supporting this important bill and it is my hope that Congress will pass it into law as quickly as possible.”
— DHS Press Release regarding the PASS ID Act (“Providing Additional Security in the States” )

June 25, 2009: “Now, when I get back, I will turn my attention immediately to a bill that was proposed in the Senate this past week known as PASS ID. PASS ID is a national security measure. It fulfills one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which was that the Federal Government set a national standard for identification.”
— Remarks at “Pen & Pad” Session with DHS Beat Reporters

July, 15, 2009: “PASS ID is a critical piece of national security legislation that will fix the REAL ID Act of 2005 and institute strong security standards for government-issued identification…PASS ID will enact the same strong security standards set out by REAL ID as quickly as REAL ID – but, critically, this bill provides a workable way to get there.”
— Testimony delivered to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee

July 20, 2009: “Pass ID provides a strong yet flexible framework for states to implement secure identification,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I am proud to join our nation’s governors in supporting Pass ID – a cost-effective, common-sense solution that balances critical security requirements with the input and practical needs of state governments.”
— “DHS Press Release, Secretary Napolitano, Governors Show Support for Pass ID in Mississippi

December 2, 2009: “Pass ID helps us meet the 9/11 commission recommendations and at the same time addresses issues that were legitimately raised by the states. And so what I would prefer to urge the Senate to do and use the – this hearing as an opportunity to really urge it to do is to move to floor action and move Pass ID through so we can get it over to the House. I think it could go very quickly over there and we could solve this issue, as opposed to extension after extension, which not only doesn’t deal with the 9/11 commission recommendation but it’s just another year of uncertainty.”
— Hearing before the before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

December 9, 2009: “Should Congress not act before it adjourns this year, we have planned for contingencies related to REAL ID implementation to minimize the impact to U.S. citizens. Any of these steps, however, would represent a temporary approach that does not advance our collective security interests over the long-term.”
— Testimony delivered before the Senate Judiciary Committee

March 9, 2011: “I would encourage Congress to take a fresh look [at the PASS ID Act].”
— Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Congress has begun to show its annoyance with the secretary’s unwillingness to implement REAL ID as the federal law she has a duty to uphold. No longer does Secretary Napolitano’s PASS ID have champions in either chamber. Moreover, the quiet that permeated both chambers while PASS ID was being considered in 2009 has turned into outright support for REAL ID, especially since publication of facts pertaining to the current status of implementation.

On March 28, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) put out a searing press release regarding a letter jointly sent to Secretary Napolitano criticizing the delay in REAL ID implementation by 20 months and yet another call for REAL ID repeal by the secretary. Rep. Smith stated: “To undermine the REAL ID law is to make it easier for terrorists to operate in the U.S. The Administration should stop trying to undercut REAL ID and instead support the full implementation of this critical national security law.” Ranking Member Chuck Grassley was equally pointed:

REAL ID is more than protecting an individual’s identity; it’s about protecting the American people by making sure licenses are secure and impede a terrorist’s ability to carry out attacks. The REAL ID Act was a direct result of the 9/11 Commission Report, and was signed into law to improve our national security and protect the American people from terrorist attacks. It’s clear from recent arrests that terrorists want to exploit our weak identification requirements to carry out attacks on Americans. The administration needs to commit to full implementation of current law, instead of kicking the can down the road.

On March 2, 2011, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security, held a hearing on the Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal year 2012 budget request. Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) noted that the “The Department of Homeland Security cannot operate in a world as it would like to be. Instead it must follow the law as it is written. This assertion not only applies to the budget realities I have just outlined but also to areas where this administration has been reluctant to fully engage, such as immigration enforcement, REAL ID, and the biometric exit solution for US-VISIT. These are mandates the Department of Homeland Security must plan for, budget for, and perform.”

Aderholt’s comments were preceded by a February 28, 2011, letter to Secretary Napolitano sent by Republican leadership with jurisdiction over REAL ID implementation, stating that “[r]ather than usurping Congress’s authority in writing policy, DHS should commit to the law and fully support implementation.” The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee leadership, former Chairman and REAL ID author Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), and Chairman of House Judiciary Lamar Smith (R-Texas), as well as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).

Security Guards Do Something Extremely Offensive To Group Of Christian Mothers In Georgia

Security Guards Do Something Extremely Offensive To Group Of Christian Mothers In GeorgiaAmerican News

August 9, 2014 2014-08-09 22:08:51

According to recent reports, the managers of a mall in Dublin, Georgia are facing immense criticism after telling a group of shoppers that they were not allowed to pray inside of the mall.

Allegedly, the group was eating lunch in the food court, when they stopped to say grace. Suddenly, they were approached by a security guard who told them about the no-prayer policy. According to mall managers, “congregating, soliciting, and disturbances” are not tolerated in the area.

However, the group claims that they were simply praying before their meal.

“The mall manager verified that prayer is not allowed at the mall because this is private property,” one of the women in the group claimed. “I said, ‘Sir, are you saying that people who eat in the food court can’t bow their heads and pray.’ ‘No ma’am.’ That’s exactly what he said.”

What do you think? Is this an outrage? Should Christians be allowed to pray?

Arizona ruling overturns conviction of felon carrying gun

Arizona ruling overturns conviction of felon carrying gun

Michael Kiefer, The Republic | azcentral.com 2:27 p.m. MST August 7, 2014

Johnathon Serna was convicted of misconduct with weapons when police noticed a gun during a consensual conversation. He did 2 1/2 years, but the high court ruled that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

On Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that they cannot unless they think the person is engaging in criminal behavior and is armed and dangerous. As a result, the court overturned the conviction of a felon caught carrying a gun.

According to court records, in October 2010, police officers saw Johnathon Serna talking to a woman on the street in a “gang neighborhood.” When the woman walked away, they approached Serna, who they described as “very cooperative and polite.”

Then one of the officers noticed a bulge in Serna’s waistband and asked if he had a gun. Serna said he did, and the police told him to put his hands on his head and took the gun. When the police learned that Serna had prior felony convictions, making him a “prohibited possessor,” they arrested him and charged him with misconduct with weapons.

At trial, Serna’s attorneys claimed that Serna’s Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure had been violated, but the judge rejected the claim, and the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

Serna was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. According to Arizona Department of Corrections records, he did the time and was released in December 2013.

But on Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court threw out his sentence and his conviction.

Over the course of the appeals, prosecutors argued that Serna had consented to frisking. The high court wrote that “police interactions with members of the public are inherently fluid, and what begins as a consensual encounter can evolve into a seizure that prompts Fourth Amendment scrutiny.”

According to the ruling, Serna only had to say that he was not going to talk to the police and could have walked away after they told him to put his hands on his head.

The justices did not think it was that easy. “A reasonable person would not have felt free to disregard such a command from a law enforcement officer,” they wrote. And they agreed Serna’s constitutional rights had been violated.

A frisk can only occur under two conditions, they concluded: “officers must reasonably suspect both that criminal activity is afoot and that the suspect is armed and dangerous.”

State v. Serna case

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

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“THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ARE ACTUALLY TEN CATEGORIES!”
“A WAKE UP CALL FOR LAST DAYS CHRISTIAN SAINTS!”

“Understanding the Two Tablets of Stones and their True Meanings!”

• There are 613 Commandments, not 10!
• Ten Commandments are actually 10 categories, not individual commands!
• The 10 are divided into duties to God, and duties to People!

Pls Remember That These Are The 10 Categories of the 613 Commandments! (Mitzvot) All 613 Commandments fall under one of these Ten Categories which is why God memorialized them of Two Tablets of Stone!

1) BELIEF IN GOD;
This category is derived from the declaration in Ex. 20:2 beginning, “I am the Lord, your God…”

2) PROHIBITION OF IMPROPER WORSHIP;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:3-6, beginning, “You shall not have other gods…” It encompasses within it the prohibition against the worship of other gods as well as the prohibition of improper forms of worship of the one true God, such as worshiping God through an idol.

3) PROHIBITION OF MAKING FALSE OATHS;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:7, beginning, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” This includes prohibitions against perjury, breaking or delaying the performance of vows or promises, and speaking God’s name or swearing Oaths unnecessarily.

4) OBSERVANCE OF SACRED TIMES;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:8-11, beginning, “Remember the Sabbath day…” It encompasses all mitzvot related to Shabbat, holidays, or other sacred time.

5) RESPECT FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:12, beginning, “Honor your father and mother…”

6) PROHIBITION OF PHYSICALLY HARMING A PERSON;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not murder.”

7) PROHIBITION OF SEXUAL IMMORALITY;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not commit adultery.”

8) PROHIBITION OF THEFT;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not steal.” It includes within it both outright robbery as well as various forms of theft by deception and unethical business practices. It also includes kidnapping, which is essentially “stealing” a person.

9) PROHIBITION OF HARMING A PERSON THROUGH SPEECH;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” It includes all forms of lashon ha-ra (sins relating to speech).

10) PROHIBITION OF COVETING;
This category is derived from Ex. 20:14, starts, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…”

If you count the words in the 10 category/commandments you’ll find that there are 613 in total, thus the 10 category/commands, span 613!

Torah – gematria 611 + 2 laws that Moses received directly on Mount Sinai = 613! Moses 611 commandments combined with the first two which were heard directly from God’s own voice on Mount Sinai, adds up to a total of 613!

“The Two Tablets of Stone shadows God’s Two Greatest Commandments” – Man’s Duties to God and Man’s Duties to People!

Judaism teaches that the first stone tablet, containing the first 5 declarations, identifies duties regarding our relationship with God, while the second stone tablet, containing the last 5 declarations, identifies duties regarding relationships with others!

You may have noticed, however, that the fifth category, which is included in the first tablet, is the category to honor father and mother, which would seem to concern relationships between people! The rabbis teach that our parents are our creators and stand in a relationship to us akin to our relationship to the Divine! Throughout Jewish liturgy, the Creator is referred to as Avinu Malkeinu, our Father, our King. Disrespect to our biological creators is not merely an affront to them; it is also an insult to the Creator of the Universe! Accordingly, honor of father and mother is included on the tablet of duties to God the Father!

But, what about the so-called “Ten Commandments,” the words recorded in Exodus 20, the words that the Creator Himself wrote on the two stone tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai (Ex. 31:18), which Moses smashed upon seeing the idolatry of the golden calf (Ex. 32:19)?

“In the Torah, these words are never referred to as the Ten Commandments!”

In the Torah, they are called Aseret ha-D’varim (Ex. 34:28, Deut. 4:13 and Deut. 10:4). In rabbinical texts, they are referred to as Aseret ha-Dibrot. The words d’varim and dibrot come from the Hebrew root Dalet-Beit-Reish, meaning word, speak or thing; thus, the phrase is accurately translated as the Ten Sayings, the Ten Statements, the Ten Declarations, the Ten Words or even the Ten Things, or Ten Utterances, but not as the Ten Commandments, which would be Aseret ha-Mitzvot. In Hebrew, “Mitzvot” means Commandment!

The Aseret ha-Dibrot are not understood as individual mitzvots; rather, they are categories or classifications of mitzvots! Each of the 613 mitzvot can be summed up under one of these ten categories, some in more obvious ways than others! For example, the mitzvah not to work on Shabbat rather obviously falls within the category of remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy! The mitzvah to fast on Yom Kippur fits into that category somewhat less obviously: all holidays are in some sense a Sabbath, and the category encompasses any mitzvah related to sacred times!

The precise numbering and division of these precepts into “Ten Commandments” is somewhat uncertain! Scripture never mentions “The Ten Commandments!” Oh, sure, the commandments themselves are in the Bible, true! But the phrase “The Ten Commandments” is never found!

If you have a bit of Bible knowledge or a good Bible search tool, you will quickly find three passages that use the phrase “the Ten Commandments” (capitalized or not): Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13, and Deuteronomy 10:4.

Unfortunately, our translators have bowed to a tradition dating to the middle-ages and have not provided an accurate translation in our bibles!

The Hebrew words used in those verses (aseret ha-de’varim) are more accurately translated as “the Ten Words”… not “the Ten Commandments”.

Our English Bibles have completely added those words, “Ten Commandments,” incorrectly! While the Septuagint, (Greek Bible) accurately translates the Hebrew and uses the Greek equivalent of “the Ten Words”, more correctly, “Deka Logous!” Which should be in English, “The Decalogue!”

in actual fact, Scripture never mentions “The Ten Commandments!”
Exodus 31:18 – And He gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, “the Two Tablets of the Testimony,” tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

Some of you with more than a cursory knowledge of Scripture may be quick to point out that the list of the Ten Comma… uh, the Ten Words is given in two places: Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:4-21.

Run after the most ‘minor’ mitzvah as you would after the most ‘important’ and flee from transgression, because doing one mitzvah draws you into doing another, and doing one transgression draws you into doing another, and because the reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah and the punishment for a transgression is a transgression! In other words, every mitzvah is important, because even the most seemingly trivial mitzvot draw you into a pattern of leading your life in accordance with the Creator’s wishes, rather than in accordance with your own!

Marathon: The War For The West By Van Bryan

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The battle of Marathon has, for millenia now, been firmly planted within the annals of western history. A decisive battle, a clash of cultures, the narrative describes an outnumbered Athenian army staying off the Persian invaders who would see the Greek civilization consumed within their empire. And as we gaze through the looking glass of time, thousands of years into the past, what began as a simple military engagement is now often considered a philosophical war between two cultures. ‘The war for the West’, that is what some believe Marathon to be. And if Greece is the cradle of western culture, could Marathon be the stance to defend it? Or has centuries of war divided us, polarized our understanding of each other? The answers, much like history, can be rather messy.

It all began with the Ionian revolution and Aristagoras, the tyrant of Miletus, who would resign his tyranny and accept a constitutional position in order to dismantle Persian control of the Greek city states in Asia Minor. This was largely done without bloodshed and Aristagoras would attempt to gain support for his endeavor from mainland Greece. After being denied by the Spartan king, Cleomenes, Aristagoras would find support from the Athenian government who viewed the massive Persian empire with suspicion and concern. The Athenians dispatched several naval war vessels to aid the Ionian Greeks in this rebellion.

It would do little good. The rebellion would fail miserably with a decisive naval defeat at the island of Lade, near Miletus. Aristagoras’ city would fall. The women and children of Miletus became slaves and the men that were left alive were expelled from their lands. Early in the campaign, the capital city of western Persia, Sardis, had been burned to the ground. And while the Greeks mourned for the loss of Miletus, the birthplace of the philosopher Thales, King Darius of Persia would not soon forget the destruction of Sardis. It was too late for reconciliation. War was coming.

After a failed invasion through northern Greece in 492 BCE, King Darius made plans to dispatch a large invading force across the Aegean to overthrow Athens and capture mainland Greece. Mindful of the fate of Miletus, many city-states, including Thebes and Argos, submitted to the Persian king. It was only Athens and Sparta who stood firmly in defiance. When the heralds of King Darius appeared at the gates of Athens and Sparta, the messengers were not only denied, but were promptly killed. Legend has it that soldiers of Sparta threw the emissaries into a deep well when the heralds suggested that the Spartans surrender. Did they scream “this is Sparta!” right before they dropped kicked the men into the abyss? We may never know, but I like to think so.

Meanwhile, Athens had a decision to make. The Athenians would be vastly outnumbered if they decided to face the Persians. We do not know the exact numbers, but we do know that Persia possessed a much larger infantry as well as superior cavalry and archers. It was at this time that the Stratego Miltiades, would play a critical role in the salvation of Athens. Miltiades,a man who spent much of his life ruling in a remote military outpost in the Chersonese, would return to Athens in 493 BCE. He was promptly accused of tyranny while ruling in the Chersonese and put on trial. It is difficult to imagine why Athens would concern themselves with one of their own citizens tyrannizing abroad, especially with a massive Persian army at their doorstep. It is not unreasonable to believe Herodotus when he tells us that the persecution of Miltiades originated from the mans political enemies.

Miltiades was a gifted general and had served in the Persian army while living in Asia Minor under Persian control. He would be familiar with Persian tactics and was most qualified to lead a defense against the invaders. Perhaps it was the thought of Athens burning to the ground that persuaded the Athenians to acquit Miltiades, it would appear they had bigger fish to fry. Miltiades was allowed to attempt to persuade the polemarch Callimachus to allow him to go to war. Herodotus offers a stirring rendition of this speech.

“…It is up to you right now, to enslave Athens or to make her free, and to leave for all future generations of humanity a memorial to yourself such as not even Harmodius and Aristogiton have left. Right now, Athens is in the most perilous moment of her history. Hippias has already shown her what she will suffer if she bows down to the Medes, but if the city survives, she can become the foremost city in all Greece…” -Herodotus (The Histories)

Athens would accept Miltiades into their army and make plans to confront the Persians. Early one morning in late September of 490 BCE, the Athenian army assembled on a hill overlooking where the Persian forces had landed on the beaches of Marathon. Knowing they were severely outnumbered, Miltiades concentrated his forces in a narrow pass that would block the Persian advance to Athens. Layers of bronze shields overlapped among the Greek soldiers and created a phalanx formation that was capable of repelling waves of enemies.

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The Persian army advanced and found themselves crushed against the shields of the better equipped, better prepared Athenian army. With the advantage of longer spears, sturdy shields, and superb tactical placement, the Athenians managed to continuously push back the Persian advance. The Persian army meanwhile was improperly equipped for such warfare. Many infantrymen possessed wooden shields or shields constructed from wicker. With the Athenian army confined in a narrow corridor, the Persian cavalry was ineffective and unable to outflank the Greeks. After several days of battle, the Greeks pushed the invaders back to their ships. The Persian army would suffer heavy casualties and be forced to return home.