Open Letter to Devorah’s Date Tree: “Video Take Down”

Shalom, Nazarenes, and followers of the barley calendar.

I don’t normally share emails, but I need to make an exception in this case, because there is an ongoing problem that concerns the Aviv barley community regarding the start of the Year. I believe it is a critical issue, and that the people have a right and a need to know what is going on.

I have made repeated efforts to communicate with a certain barley search organization that has issued an unreliable barley search report. This other organization does not communicate. The people need to know about this, so that they are not misled. That is why I need to republish my emails (below).

Background:

A certain believer in Yeshua named Becca Biderman lives in Israel. She inspected a rather small barley field (about two football / soccer fields in size), near the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), where she lives. She found and reported aviv (medium dough) barley on February 6th, 2021, and provided extensive video documentation of that field, and the aviv barley.

The part of the field with the most advanced barley was then bulldozed, and about 1/4 of the field was fenced off. However, one could walk around the chain-link fence to inspect the southern half of the field (where the ripest barley was) in about a minute. That is to say, this chain-link fence should not have represented any kind of obstacle whatsoever to a motivated search team who wanted to do a thorough investigation of the southern half of that field.

Devorah’s Date Tree and the Unreliable Report:

On February 11th, 2021 (five days after Becca Biderman’s report), Devorah Gordon of Devorah’s Date Tree searched the field. It seems clear that Devorah Gordon was well aware of Becca Biderman’s work, because not only did I tell her about it (repeatedly), but Devorah also spoke tangentially about Becca Bidernman’s work in her posts, and even ridiculed it a few times.

Interestingly, even though Ms. Gordon never uses Becca Biderman’s name, she seems to have watched enough of Becca Biderman’s reports to know how to find the field, and to ridicule her reports.

Ms Gordon’s stated purpose was to inspect the field, and to humbly report whatever they found. Well, searching for barley isn’t rocket science. You just keep your head up, and look for where the field has started to turn from dark green to a lighter color (i.e., golden brown). A good observer also criss-crosses and scours the whole field, from one edge to the other. However, it seems that Devorah’s team only inspected the northernmost quarter of the field (where the barley was least mature). 

Devorah’s team reported a patch of “surprisingly advanced” and “substantial” barley in the northern quarter of the field. Standing at that patch, they admit being able to see more advanced barley inside the fence. But what needs to be understood is that there was even-more-advanced barley clearly visible on the south side of the fenced area, only 40 meters / yards away. (I could see it on my computer monitor, so there is no way an alert, motivated witness could not see it in person.) Further, it would have taken only about a minute (or two at the most) to walk around the fence and inspect the most-advanced barley in the southern half of the field, if one wanted to do so. However, Devorah’s team did not do that. Instead, they went to inspect other (less-advanced) fields in the area, and then published a report that they could not find aviv barley in that field, even though they were aware of Becca’s reports of multiple patches of advanced barley in that field, five days before (and barley ripens very quickly in its final stages).

Most importantly, the gas station promontory (where they parked) gives a commanding bird’s-eye view of the field. The fact that the barley was more advanced in the southern edge of the field should have been obvious from before they walked down toward the field. Further, from almost every place in the field, it is easy to see that the barley was riper in the southern half. (So why did they not check the southern half?)

Verifying Witnesses:

One of the functions of the priesthood is to verify the witnesses to the aviv barley, so as to declare the Head of the Year. Because of this, I did a video interview with Becca Biderman. As she was reporting her findings to me, I could not understanding how anyone who truly wanted to find ripe barley in a small field the size of two soccer/football fields could have missed it. This is especially true considering how easy it was to see the barley in the southern half from the gas station promontory, and from almost every other place in the field. The fact that they found a patch of advanced barley on the north side of the fenced area, and could see more inside the fenced area, and even more on the south side of the fenced area should have given any motivated observer the impetus to take sixty seconds to walk around the fence, and inspect the barley on the south side of the fence. (It would be kind of like walking around a wide tennis court. It would take very little time at all. In fact it would take much less time to do that than to go search for other fields.)

Devorah Gordon’s email:

Devorah Gordon emailed me (below) to demand that I take down my video interview immediately, which I did. Then I re-recorded the barley interview with Becca Biderman, being careful to state only the facts as I understood them.

After the new video was posted, I then emailed Ms. Gordon, asking her please to take her video down also, and issue a public statement that she had reported that field incorrectly. That was the only way I could see to eliminate the confusion her inaccurate search reporting caused. I then also asked several questions about her inspection, pertaining to her qualifications as a barley witness.

It has only been three days, but the Passover is upon us, and Ms. Gordon has not responded. If she takes her video down and issues a correction, I will gladly take this post down. However, if she does not correct her inaccurate report, this post needs to stay up.

I would wait longer, but the issue is pressing. Passover and the Wave Sheaf are this weekend, and I believe the people have both a right and a need to know that the barley search conducted by Devorah’s Date Tree was inaccurate (because it affects their worship).

For full disclosure, I send a small donation to Devorah’s Date Tree each month, to help cover her cost in the barley searches.

I understand that Ms. Gordon will likely object strenuously to this post, and may accuse me again of slandering her, or “defaming her character”, or some such thing, but that is not my intention at all. I am simply reporting the truth as I perceive it, because I believe that the people have a right and a need to know.

I believe that when someone who bills himself (or herself) as “the most reliable” reporter issues a report that is inaccurate (i.e., unreliable), that if they truly care about the truth and the community they serve, they need to humble themselves, and take all steps necessary to correct his inaccurate report, both for the good of the community, and for the sake of his soul. I believe that is the only responsible thing to do.

If Ms. Gordon cares about the truth, and about the barley community, I am not able to understand her silence in response to my letter.

This information is accurate to the best of my knowledge, as of 26 February, 2021.

Devorah’s initial demand and my two email responses are below. May Elohim please lead us all to walk humbly before Him, showing fruits worthy of repentance. The emails are arranged in chronological order.

In His service,

Norman Bradley Willis,
Apostle, Nazarene Israel

**

#1
From: Devorah’s Date Tree <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 21, 2021 5:02 PM
To: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Subject: Video Take Down

Hi Norman,

It has been brought to my attention that you uploaded a video accusing me of providing a dishonest report. I must correct you and let you know that my reports are in fact honest. Had you bothered to make the effort of actually watching the part of my video where I went to the field in question, you would have known that I never said my partner went South of the fence, because he didn’t. We actually had no idea that the field continued past the large fenced off area. Again, had you watched the part of my video where we were in the field in question, you would have known that I ended my survey of the field on the West side, while my search partner stayed on the East side. When my search partner told me he found some ripe barley, I turned back on my camera so I could show it to everyone. I pointed out this patch and what seemed to be a larger light patch in the enclosed fenced off area in both my video and in my written report. It’s not true that either of us saw barley which I didn’t report. You and Becca have made up lies about me, attacked my character, and are liable for slander. I am asking you to please ensure that all copies of this video are taken down immediately.

Devorah

**

#2
From: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Sent: Sunday, February 21, 2021 11:01 PM
To: Devorah’s Date Tree <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Video Take Down

Hi Devorah. Thank you for communicating! It seems too bad that this is the first time you actually communicate!
If you feel defamed, we can remove the video, but could you please help us to understand some things? We understand that you are looking for a manicured field of barley maybe only 1-2 days short of combine ripe (which makes no sense to us), but that field is very tiny! If you are “the most reliable” barley inspectors in the land of Israel, could you please help us to understand how you were unable to spot golden colored barley less than 100 meters away, when we can see it on a computer screen, and you were there in person? Because we do not see how a trained, motivated, unbiased inspector could fail to spot ripe barley less than 100 meters away, if he or she was actually looking for it.
We will continue praying for you all.

Norman B. Willis

Apostle, Nazarene Israel
The faith once delivered to the saints

Home

**

#3
From: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 10:41 PM
To: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Subject: Fw: Video Take Down

Hi Devorah.
I hope all is well for you and yours, and that all will be well.
I have complied with your demand to take down the earlier video, which you found objectionable.
Now, in the interests of accurate reporting, truth, and eliminating unnecessary confusion, I must insist that you also immediately take down your video, and issue a public statement that your inspection results regarding that field were inaccurate. This is the only way to eliminate the confusion that your inaccurate inspection has caused within the barley community.

My perspective is that of a priest verifying witnesses to the aviv barley, to establish the head of the year for those of his sect. Your video report claims that you did not find aviv barley in that field. However, one has to ask WHY you were not able to find it, when it was so easy to spot, and another witness (Becca Biderman) had already publicly posted many videos and photos showing that there was at least an omer of aviv (medium dough) barley in that field on 06 February 2021 (and much more since). Also, it seems very clear that you were aware of her reports, because you knew how to find that field, and you say that was the reason you went to examine that field, was because of her report of aviv barley.

I have been over Becca Biderman’s photographic and video evidence with her for perhaps 7 or 8 hours. As a priest verifying witnesses to the aviv barley, I must ask you several questions. I hope you will answer these questions, to help the barley community evaluate you as a reliable, unbiased observer for the future.

The field in question is not very big, perhaps 5-6 dunhams (1-1/2 acres, or 1/2 hectare). When you park at the gas station, you have a commanding bird’s-eye view of the entire field. The field is perhaps only 150 meters/yards long (and no more than 200 meters / yards long). From the gas station promontory, it is very easy to see golden-colored barley on the far side of the fenced area, and that the fenced area is small (maybe 40 meters/yards from north to south), and easy to walk around. If it was truly your desire to give that field a thorough inspection and give a reliable report (as opposed to going there with the intention of disqualifying that field), why did you not think to inspect the golden-colored barley that was readily visible on the south side of the fence?

At 16:18 in your video, you stand at the chain link fence and look through the fence. At 17:54 in your video, you say that you found a patch of surprisingly advanced and substantive barley. From both of those locations it was very easy to see even-more advanced golden colored barley on the south side of the fence (again not more than 40 meters / yards away). Since you had already found a patch of advanced and substantive barley, and you could see even-more-developed barley on the south side of the fence, if it was truly your desire to inspect that field in a thorough manner and give a reliable report, why did you not think to take two minutes or less to walk around the small fenced area, to inspect that barley?

At 20:30 in your video, you say that you are going to look for other fields to compare with the northern section that you had inspected. Why did you find it preferable to go and inspect other fields, rather than take two minutes or less to walk around the fence and inspect the readily-visible golden-colored barley on the south side?

Since your earlier reports indicate that you are clearly aware of Becca Biderman’s work, and since you knew how to find that field from Becca Biderman’s descriptions of it, and since your stated purpose in going to the field was to inspect Becca Biderman’s report of aviv barley there, what would you say to someone who felt that your actions are not consistent with a desire to make a thorough inspection of that field (but rather was more consistent with a desire to disqualify that report, without ever making any attempt to contact that other witness)?
You know, we serve a great and awesome King. What would you say to someone who asked how you can call yourself the “most reliable” barley observer, when you left the field without being able to find aviv barley which was clearly visible from several locations, and which you clearly knew about, because you knew how to find the field, and had made negative comments regarding the other witnesses reporting in the past?

Again I ask you please to immediately take your video down, and issue a public statement that your reporting of that field was inaccurate, to eliminate the unnecessary confusion that your inaccurate reporting has caused.

In His service,

Norman B. Willis

Apostle, Nazarene Israel
The faith once delivered to the saints

Home

**

#4

From: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Date: March 14, 2021 at 7:40:56 PM GMT-3
To: Devorah Gordon <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com>
Cc: Becca Biderman <Rivkarut2004@yahoo.com>, “Nehemia Gordon (ngordon4@gmail.com)” <ngordon4@gmail.com>
Subject: Thank you!! Brilliant embedded time markers!

Hi Devorah.
Thank you very much for putting a notice in your newsletter that you inspected south of the fence, along with a time marker. That time marker was brilliant! (If you wanted to put the time hacks for the various fields in the comments, that would be doubly brilliant!) From your video, it seems that the new Arab owner of that field expanded the fenced area greatly from before. It looks like he decided to extend the fence all the way south to the road! That seems very much too bad, because Becca reported that the southeastern third of the field was ancient sickle ripe around 21-22 February (but now it is all bulldozed and put under gravel. What a pity!).

I realize your doctrine calls for harvestable fields by Yom HaNafat HaOmer, and simply cutting and laying anything that comes ripe sooner aside. I can’t agree, because there’s all kinds of quotations from Josephus and the Talmud and others which tell us that the wave Sheaf offering had to be the very first thing cut, and that it had to be green barley (because it had to be dried). For example, Josephus tells us that the omer had to be dried (meaning it was still green), and that it had to be brought first, before anyone could harvest.

[Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, Chapter 10, Verse 5.]
…they offer the first-fruits of their barley, and that in the manner following: They take a handful of the ears, and dry them, then beat them small, and purge the barley from the bran; they then bring one tenth deal to the altar, to God; and, casting one handful of it upon the fire, they leave the rest for the use of the priest. And after this it is that they may publicly or privately reap their harvest.

The Babylonian Talmud tells us that the new crop may be harvested only after the omer offering.

Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 11b
…the new crop may be harvested and eaten only after the sacrifice of the omer…

And if it matters, there are many other quotes which tell us that Joshua 5:10-12 is the last possible harvest condition, not the prerequisite condition. Because if it is the prerequisite condition, you have to violate Deuteronomy 16:9, and both Josephus and the Talmud tell us that they did not do that in the Second Temple Period.

Plus, may I please ask you? If you use Joshua 5:10-12 as your proof texts for aviv barley, then why do you disqualify the fields around Jericho? I don’t get it.

But regardless of your take on Deuteronomy 16:9, is there any reason that you don’t want to coordinate with Becca Biderman? I guess I don’t understand. Why didn’t you email or call Becca when you went to that field the first time, so she could have shown you where to look, while the barley was still standing?

Also, Becca said many times that the medium dough barley was in the south-eastern part of that field. And from the pictures and videos, it should have been obvious that it was not near the base of the hill, but that it was some distance away from the base of the hill. Here is a screen shot from her video of 06 February 2021.

If I could please ask, if you know enough about her work to know where to find that field, then why didn’t you look to see about how far from the base of the hill the patch was, and realize it was not near the base of the hill (i.e., in the northern quarter of that field)? I don’t understand.

Devorah, it seems like the barley community is really suffering from a lack of coordination and communication on the part of the observers. Because there is no coordination, and no communication, it seems we have “the barley wars“ going on every year, and the people in the barley community are all suffering. Wouldn’t the barley community would benefit greatly from a combined search effort? And is that possible? I think it could avoid this kind of problem in the future. Becca has made the offer to go together with you. Is there some reason not to take her up on it? Because no matter how people interpret Deuteronomy 16:9, I would think that everyone can agree what is one handful-sheaf of medium dough (i.e., our Aviv), and what is a full field of hard dough with a hint of green 1-3 days shy of harvest (which I guess is your definition of Aviv), and then everyone can help each other look, which should really help the Aviv barley cause. So, if you host an interfaith search effort, is there some reason not to do that?

https://mailchi.mp/d022ddefd1e9/3rd-barley-field-inspection-march-11-12-2021?e=84ac8802d9

Thank you again for the time markers. Time is always in short supply here, and that embedded link made it very easy to look!

I hope you and yours are doing well, and are kept safe from the virus, and everything that goes along with that.

Kind regards,

Norman B. Willis

Apostle, Nazarene Israel
The faith once delivered to the saints

Home

**

#5
From: Norman Willis
Sent: Sunday, March 14, 2021 8:28 PM
To: Devorah Gordon <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com>
Cc: Becca Biderman <Rivkarut2004@yahoo.com>; Nehemia Gordon <ngordon4@gmail.com>
Subject: Fwd: Thank you!! Brilliant embedded time markers!

P.S.,
Have you ever stopped to consider that if you look at Joshua 5:10–12 as the latest the harvest can occur, rather than the earliest the harvest can occur, that you don’t need to redefine Deuteronomy 16:9?

And then your Aviv barley can actually be tender, young, and green (instead of hard, and dry, and brown)?

Just asking.

Kind regards,

Norman B. Willis

Apostle, Nazarene Israel
The faith once delivered to the saints

Home

**

#6

On Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 11:14 AM Devorah’s Date Tree <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com> wrote:
You wrote: Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 11b
…the new crop may be harvested and eaten only after the sacrifice of the omer…

It doesn’t say that in the text.

Devorah

**

#7

From: Devorah’s Date Tree <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2021 5:24 AM
To: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Subject: Re: Thank you!! Brilliant embedded time markers!

For the record, we do go to the area Jerico, that’s the Jordan Valley. Perhaps you meant to ask Becca, why she didn’t go there, and instead sent this to me by mistake.

Devorah

**

#8

From: Devorah’s Date Tree <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2021 5:24 AM
To: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Subject: Re: Thank you!! Brilliant embedded time markers!

For the record, we do go to the area Jerico, that’s the Jordan Valley. Perhaps you meant to ask Becca, why she didn’t go there, and instead sent this to me by mistake.

Devorah

**

#9

From: Norman Willis <servants@nazareneisrael.org>
Sent: Saturday, April 3, 2021 1:03 AM
To: Devorah’s Date Tree <devorahsdatetree@gmail.com>
Cc: Nehemia Gordon (ngordon4@gmail.com) <ngordon4@gmail.com>; Joseph Dumond <admin@sightedmoon.com>; Rebecca Biderman <rivkarut2004@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Please correct your faulty video witness for the Poriyah Illit and Reim fields.

Hi Devorah,
Thanks for your belated response, even if you only responded to a very small part of my letter. And thank you for letting us know that you did go to Jericho. It would really be great if you could put an index of the fields and their locations in your video notes, for quick navigation. I am sure that many would appreciate it.

About Becca, as you well know, she found more than a sheaf of aviv barley in Poriya Illit on February 06. You seem to have known how to find your way to that field, and what was there. And you seem to have known how to inspect all around the surrounding area, but for some reason you could not find the aviv barley on the 11th (even though there would have been more of it on the 11th than on the 6th). And although it was readily visible in your video report when you stood at the “surprisingly advanced and substantial” patch of barley, for some reason you could not see it when you were standing there (even though I could see it on my screen)??

Please let me ask you again: if you knew that aviv barley had been reported in that field five days earlier, then why did you not contact Becca to help you find it (assuming you truly wanted to find it)?

You asked us to take down our video, which we promptly did (because we only want to publish the truth). But then when we wrote to you, to ask you please to take down your inaccurate reporting, you did not even respond.

Devorah, we know you are looking for harvestable fields, but since you are obviously aware of Becca Biderman’s work (enough to ridicule it repeatedly), why not contact Becca Biderman, so you could say, “Yes, we contacted Becca Biderman, and she helped us find the same patch 100 meters from the base of the gas station hill, but we are looking for harvest-ready fields for our aviv, in keeping with our article about harvestable fields.”? That way you would be seen as truly trying to be helpful. Wouldn’t that look better?

You asked us to take down our report because you objected to the way things were said, so we took it down right away, and re-recorded it. However, when we asked you to take down your factually inaccurate report, you did not even respond! How can that not look bad on you when there is clear photographic and video evidence of at least a sheaf of aviv in that field on 06 February 2021, AND she filled a sample bucket of harvest-ready barley on 21 February (and the whole southeastern third was aviv or better on that date)?

Again, this was the sighting on 06 February 2021:

This was the sample bucket on 21 February 2021:

Becca then reported aviv barley in Reim the next day, on 22 February 2021.

You seem to have gone in behind Becca (to the same Reim field) on 1-2 March, but you either ignored or looked past the (now fallen over) first flush, focusing instead on the (still green) second flush. I could see the (now fallen over) first flush in your video report! But again you posted “no aviv”, which is clearly inaccurate. So why did you not report, “The first flush has already lost its seed and fallen, and the second flush is not yet aviv.”? Would that not be more accurate? And would that not look better?

About the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 11b, thank you for bringing that to my attention. The quotation was from the Davidson Talmud on Sefaria.com. I did not know that the words which are not in bold are commentary that is supplied by the Davidson Talmud, and are not part of the original.

We removed this quote from our earlier publications because our focus is on learning and publishing the truth (without an agenda). We believe you need to do the same, and correct the errors in your earlier reporting about “no aviv” in Poriyah Illit and Reim! This is because there is ample evidence that there WAS in fact aviv barley, so your testimony that there was “no aviv” cannot help but look bad on you. (Don’t blame us for that. That is not our fault. You are shooting yourself in your own foot.)

Why not do the responsible thing, and retract your incorrect videos, and correct the record? We all make mistakes, and we all learn and grow, but when we refuse to correct known obvious errors, it looks very bad on us. (I don’t think this is anything you don’t already know.)

Devorah, even though you have not answered my questions from before, please let me ask you some new questions. If you, as a Karaite, claim not to follow the Talmud, then why do you still seem to follow the Talmud? Meaning, why do you follow the rabbinic doctrine that it is ok to harvest early, so long as you do not eat of the crop? It is a clear violation of Deuteronomy 16:9, which tells us that we begin the count when we begin to cut (and that when we begin to cut, we need to begin to count).

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9-10
9 “You shall count seven weeks for yourself;
begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the [standing] grain.
10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to Yahweh your Elohim…”

And if you as a Karaite claim not to follow the Pharisaic doctrine that it is ok to violate Deuteronomy 16:9 by cutting without counting, then why do you follow the Pharisaic doctrine that it is ok to violate Deuteronomy 16:9 by cutting without counting?

Also, you repeatedly ridiculed Becca and everyone who believes in using the Omer to clear the way for the harvest by saying that it was “too cold” to hold Pesach, and that it was “not yet spring”. And now you are faced with snow, and cold and wet weather yourself!

And you also had lots of rain for your pilgrimage feast! So, by your own doctrines, don’t you need to declare a thirteenth month? Or do those rules only apply to Becca, and not to yourself?

And that is not hypocrisy?

Please correct your faulty witness on the aviv barley in the Poriyah Illit and Reim fields!

Norman B. Willis
Apostle, Nasi, Nazarene Israel
servants@nazareneisrael.org
​​nazareneisrael.org

 

 

If these works have been a help to you and your walk with our Messiah, Yeshua, please consider donating. Give