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fleur-de-lys
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« on: August 02, 2009, 03:03:23 AM »

I have heard (unsubstantiated) claims that some Orthodox follow dietary laws/restrictions similar to the Jewish ones. My questions are:

1) Is this true?
2) If so, what are the restrictions followed?
3) And if so, how might an Orthodox following these dietary restictions reconcile the practice with Matthew 15:11 ("It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person") and respond to objections that we are not under Levitical law?

Any information would be helpful, since I'm entirely ignorant on this point. Thanks. Smiley
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 03:06:24 AM by fleur-de-lys » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2009, 03:14:38 AM »

Do you have any specific examples?
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2009, 03:16:26 AM »

No?  Sad

Sorry. But you would know, wouldn't you, if you had a rule about abstaining from such-and-such sort of food, right?
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2009, 03:20:27 AM »

There are times of the year, especially Great Lent, where it is considered proper for Orthodox people to abstain from certain food (mainly animal products, dairy, fish), and, on some days, oil and wine. These fasting/abstaining practices don't match up with the Jewish Levitical restrictions.

There should be plenty of info on this site on lenten fasting, not just what to eat or not eat, but also the spiritual side of fasting.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 03:21:08 AM by LBK » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2009, 03:24:56 AM »

Ah, okay. That makes sense. But no lifelong dietary restrictions, just Lenten fasting?
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2009, 03:31:51 AM »

I think the Ethiopian Orthodox keep some of the Old Testament dietary restrictions, but I am not sure.  My understanding is that the reasons for this are more historical than anything else, but I could be wrong.  Perhaps one of our Ethiopian Orthodox brothers could tell us more. 
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2009, 03:34:10 AM »

Ah, okay. That makes sense. But no lifelong dietary restrictions, just Lenten fasting?

Yes, for laity and married clergy. Monastics (monks and nuns) give up meat for life once they enter monastic life.
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2009, 04:48:42 AM »

I think the Ethiopian Orthodox keep some of the Old Testament dietary restrictions, but I am not sure.  My understanding is that the reasons for this are more historical than anything else, but I could be wrong.  Perhaps one of our Ethiopian Orthodox brothers could tell us more. 

Yes. We abstain from meat, animal products, and alcohol on Wednesdays, Fridays and other fast days such as Great Lent. We do this in rememberance of when the Jews took council together to condemn Christ to death on Wednesday, and in rememberance of Our Lord's crucifixion on Friday. We also abstain from pork at all times, because Ethiopians practiced Judaism from the time of Solomon and Sheba until the time of the proclamation of the Gospel by the Ethiopian Eunuch after he was baptized by Philip the Apostle.

Many Ethiopians also practice circumcision, as do the majority fo Christians around the world. These things are not legalism, but simply a recognition that some Old Testament Laws still have practical and spiritual benefit for Christians today. For example, all Christians still strive to observe the 10 commandments.

I will also mention an interesting thing that I had to ask my Priest about. In our Ethiopian Orthodox Liturgy we say, "Henceforth let us not be circumcised like the Jews. We know that He who had to fulfill the law and the prophets has already come." And yet most Ethiopians still practice circumcision. My Priest told me that this was simply a historical practice and custom, not an ecclesiastical law.

In regards to pork, I'm not sure if this a Church rule or simply a historical custom. But I personally stay away from it for a variety of reasons. I always think about how those demons begged Our Lord to be cast into the herd of swine. I don't think it's coincidental.

Selam
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2009, 04:57:49 AM »

Quote
Many Ethiopians also practice circumcision, as do the majority of Christians around the world.

A clarification: Circumcision is not a practice of the majority of Orthodox Christians, at least of the EO. In fact, it is rather rare, and is not done for religious reasons in the vast majority of cases. I quite accept the OO have strong cultural and religious reasons for doing so, and there are many non-Orthodox denominations which also encourage it.
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2009, 05:58:06 AM »

Quote
Many Ethiopians also practice circumcision, as do the majority of Christians around the world.

A clarification: Circumcision is not a practice of the majority of Orthodox Christians, at least of the EO. In fact, it is rather rare, and is not done for religious reasons in the vast majority of cases. I quite accept the OO have strong cultural and religious reasons for doing so, and there are many non-Orthodox denominations which also encourage it.

Thanks for that clarification.

It's interesting, because when my two sons were born I was still an Evangelical. I made sure that they were not circumcised, because I wasn't about to subject my sons to unnecessary pain when the Law has already been fulfilled. In fact, I was always irritated by how most conservative Evangelical Christians would circumcise their newborns without even thinking about it. To this day I'm glad that they weren't circumcised.

And although I respect the customs of Ethiopian culture, I value the Divine Liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church more. Thus I will side with the Liturgy over the custom; and the Liturgy says clearly, "Henceforth let us not be circumcised like the Jews. We know that He who had to fulfill the law and the prophets has already come."     

Selam
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 05:59:45 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2009, 09:57:44 AM »

I have heard (unsubstantiated) claims that some Orthodox follow dietary laws/restrictions similar to the Jewish ones. My questions are:

1) Is this true?
2) If so, what are the restrictions followed?
3) And if so, how might an Orthodox following these dietary restictions reconcile the practice with Matthew 15:11 ("It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person") and respond to objections that we are not under Levitical law?

Any information would be helpful, since I'm entirely ignorant on this point. Thanks. Smiley

To the above responses, I'll just add that as to 3) the restrictions of fasting are not because the food is unclean.  Quite the opposite, it is a sacrifice of not eating it.  It is often said that the fasting diet is vegan as to animals which have blood, because the sacrifice of not eating it is the compliment of the blood sacrifice of Christ.  It is also a form of kenosis (Phillipians), emptying out in imitation of Christ so that others may eat (the money saved from the fasting must be given in alms).

The Ethiopians circumcize and refrain from pork because of their claims Hebrew roots (which I take that the presence of the Ethiopian eunuch, for instance, in Acts substantiates).
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 09:59:18 AM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2009, 07:15:37 PM »

Quote
Many Ethiopians also practice circumcision, as do the majority of Christians around the world.

A clarification: Circumcision is not a practice of the majority of Orthodox Christians, at least of the EO. In fact, it is rather rare, and is not done for religious reasons in the vast majority of cases. I quite accept the OO have strong cultural and religious reasons for doing so, and there are many non-Orthodox denominations which also encourage it.

Thanks for that clarification.

It's interesting, because when my two sons were born I was still an Evangelical. I made sure that they were not circumcised, because I wasn't about to subject my sons to unnecessary pain when the Law has already been fulfilled. In fact, I was always irritated by how most conservative Evangelical Christians would circumcise their newborns without even thinking about it. To this day I'm glad that they weren't circumcised.
I think you may be overlooking or just ignorant of the fact that for quite a long time physicians recommended circumcision for purely medical reasons.  ISTM that research over the past decade has shown that the medical benefit-to-risk ratio of male circumcision is not what we once thought it was, thus making the procedure more open to questioning.  Right now, it looks more like "six to one, a half dozen to the other".
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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2009, 09:04:25 PM »

Quote
Many Ethiopians also practice circumcision, as do the majority of Christians around the world.

A clarification: Circumcision is not a practice of the majority of Orthodox Christians, at least of the EO. In fact, it is rather rare, and is not done for religious reasons in the vast majority of cases. I quite accept the OO have strong cultural and religious reasons for doing so, and there are many non-Orthodox denominations which also encourage it.

Thanks for that clarification.

It's interesting, because when my two sons were born I was still an Evangelical. I made sure that they were not circumcised, because I wasn't about to subject my sons to unnecessary pain when the Law has already been fulfilled. In fact, I was always irritated by how most conservative Evangelical Christians would circumcise their newborns without even thinking about it. To this day I'm glad that they weren't circumcised.
I think you may be overlooking or just ignorant of the fact that for quite a long time physicians recommended circumcision for purely medical reasons.  ISTM that research over the past decade has shown that the medical benefit-to-risk ratio of male circumcision is not what we once thought it was, thus making the procedure more open to questioning.  Right now, it looks more like "six to one, a half dozen to the other".

Yes, that's what I always heard. I just never bought into it. I thought that God made us with foreskins, therefore there must be a reason for it.

Selam
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2009, 10:58:03 PM »

Quote
Many Ethiopians also practice circumcision, as do the majority of Christians around the world.

A clarification: Circumcision is not a practice of the majority of Orthodox Christians, at least of the EO. In fact, it is rather rare, and is not done for religious reasons in the vast majority of cases. I quite accept the OO have strong cultural and religious reasons for doing so, and there are many non-Orthodox denominations which also encourage it.

Thanks for that clarification.

It's interesting, because when my two sons were born I was still an Evangelical. I made sure that they were not circumcised, because I wasn't about to subject my sons to unnecessary pain when the Law has already been fulfilled. In fact, I was always irritated by how most conservative Evangelical Christians would circumcise their newborns without even thinking about it. To this day I'm glad that they weren't circumcised.
I think you may be overlooking or just ignorant of the fact that for quite a long time physicians recommended circumcision for purely medical reasons.  ISTM that research over the past decade has shown that the medical benefit-to-risk ratio of male circumcision is not what we once thought it was, thus making the procedure more open to questioning.  Right now, it looks more like "six to one, a half dozen to the other".

Yes, that's what I always heard. I just never bought into it. I thought that God made us with foreskins, therefore there must be a reason for it.

Selam

He told Father Abraham and his sons to cut theirs off, and He Himself had His cut off.  He must have had His reasons.
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2009, 02:12:53 AM »

Quote
Many Ethiopians also practice circumcision, as do the majority of Christians around the world.

A clarification: Circumcision is not a practice of the majority of Orthodox Christians, at least of the EO. In fact, it is rather rare, and is not done for religious reasons in the vast majority of cases. I quite accept the OO have strong cultural and religious reasons for doing so, and there are many non-Orthodox denominations which also encourage it.

Thanks for that clarification.

It's interesting, because when my two sons were born I was still an Evangelical. I made sure that they were not circumcised, because I wasn't about to subject my sons to unnecessary pain when the Law has already been fulfilled. In fact, I was always irritated by how most conservative Evangelical Christians would circumcise their newborns without even thinking about it. To this day I'm glad that they weren't circumcised.
I think you may be overlooking or just ignorant of the fact that for quite a long time physicians recommended circumcision for purely medical reasons.  ISTM that research over the past decade has shown that the medical benefit-to-risk ratio of male circumcision is not what we once thought it was, thus making the procedure more open to questioning.  Right now, it looks more like "six to one, a half dozen to the other".

Yes, that's what I always heard. I just never bought into it. I thought that God made us with foreskins, therefore there must be a reason for it.

Selam

He told Father Abraham and his sons to cut theirs off, and He Himself had His cut off.  He must have had His reasons.

Absolutely. That's exactly my point. When God determines when and why we should do something, then I will follow it. But when society determines when and why we should do something, then I will always rebel against it unless it complies with God's will.

In the Old Testament circumcision was the Law. But the Liturgy of the Church tells us that Christ has fulfilled the Law, and thus we should no longer be circumcised.

Selam
« Last Edit: August 03, 2009, 02:13:52 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2009, 01:15:02 PM »

I was so confused about all the fasting "rules" at first, not so hard now. I know in my case, I can get so caught up in the "legalities" of why, that it takes focus off God, rather than focusing on God, church attendance, prayer. The rest will come.  As far as circumcision, I had it done to both my sons. Not for religious purposes.  I started working as aide in a nursing home when I was 16.(I'm still in that field today)  Over the years, some elderly men (uncircumcised) were not able to take care of personal hygiene as well as they use to (due to physical, or Alzheimer's type conditions), some families were not so attentive to "private parts" with trying to care for these people. I've seen too many sores that didn't heal from lack of diligent personal care. Some of these sores never healed and caused other problems with these gentlemen.  I felt it was a way to help with that when they are at ripe old age, since I won't be there then to see to it if they should need help with their personal hygiene. ( I had partial circumcision done to them, not total). Just my 2 cents.
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« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2009, 07:23:13 PM »

Absolutely. That's exactly my point. When God determines when and why we should do something, then I will follow it. But when society determines when and why we should do something, then I will always rebel against it unless it complies with God's will.
But when medical professionals, our health care experts, recommend a particular action for health care reasons...  do we ignore them?
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« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2009, 07:28:09 PM »

But when medical professionals, our health care experts, recommend a particular action for health care reasons...  do we ignore them?

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« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2009, 04:53:23 AM »

Absolutely. That's exactly my point. When God determines when and why we should do something, then I will follow it. But when society determines when and why we should do something, then I will always rebel against it unless it complies with God's will.
But when medical professionals, our health care experts, recommend a particular action for health care reasons...  do we ignore them?

God is the Professional, the Expert, not man. But of course we should not "ignore" what medical professionals or the scientific community tell us. We should ivestigate it, compare it with biblical and ecclesiastical Teaching and Tradition, and then make an informed spiriritual, moral, and ethical decision. And this is how I made the decision not to have my sons circumcised.

The problem is that we blindly take as fact anything and everything the scientific and medical community tells us. But let's not forget that these are the same communities that once told us things such as the earth is flat and that blood-letting could cure diseases. And only a few decades ago lobotomies were performed as remedies for mental illness. Today they lobotomize children with Ritilin and adults with Oxycotin. So, a healthy skepticism towards science and medicine is always warranted; but we should never doubt the teachings of Our Lord and His Church.

Selam
« Last Edit: August 04, 2009, 04:55:06 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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