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11

Beginning with last week's Parashah Sh'mot,  verse 21 of Sh'mot Chapter 4, we were introduced to the concept of what is known as a "hardened heart." There are Three Hebrew root words that describe the english word "harden," and we see all of them used randomly throughout various passages of Scripture.
1rst there is: Kashah  קשה meaning to stiffen, make hard or stubborn
2nd there is: Chazak  חזק  meaning to be strong, be hardened, obstinate
3rd there is: Kaveid  כבד  to be heavy (neg.) as burdened, or afflicted. To be heavy (positively) as to lift up or glorify.

We read in Sh'mot (Exodus) Chapter 4:21; ADONAI said to Moshe, "When you get back to Egypt, make sure that you do before Pharaoh every one of the wonders I have enabled you to do. Nevertheless, I am going to make him hardhearted, and he will refuse to let the people go. 

Making him hardhearted or stubborn, does not mean that ADONAI made Pharaoh sinful on purpose. For G-d to make it impossible for a man to obey Him, and then punish him for his disobedience, would be both unjust and contrary to the fundemental belief in Freedom of the Will. We are "free-lance" moral agents, and as we found out in Gan Edan, people were born with a free will in that we can choose between right and wrong. However, the right choices are not always made, and consequences follow.

In Sh'mot, the phrase most often translated as; "Hardhearted," occursnineteen times, between Ch.4 and Ch. 14; nine times it is said that Pharaoh was responsible for the hardness of his heart; and ten times the hardening of Pharaoh's heart is ascribed to ADONAI. Consequently there seems to be two sides to this hardening.

When the Divine command came to Pharaoh, "Let My people go," he responds by not listening and not letting the prople go. Each repetition of Pharaoh's persistent obstinacy made it less likely that he would eventually listen to the word of ADONAI. We see the law of conscience in action here; every time the voice of conscience is disobeyed, it becomes dull and feeble, and the heart grows harder. When confronted by a direct command of G-d, man cannot stand neutral in G-d's Presence. He either obeys the Divine command, and it becomes a blessing to him; or he defies G-d, and the command becomes a curse to him.
 

According to Scripture in the V'ahavta,"....you are to love ADONAI your G-d with all your heart." (D'varim 6:5) In this we see the heart as the center of our Spiritual activity. The heart is also home to our personal lives, and a we are given certain designations according to our hearts. In M'lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 3:9-12, When Shlomo was made King he asks ADONAI for an understanding heart, able to administer justice to G-d's people, and to discern between good and bad. G-d responds by giving him a wise and understanding heart.

In Tehillim 24:3 it states: "Who may go up to the mountain of ADONAI? Who can stand in His Holy Place? Those with clean hands and pure hearts, who don't make vanities the purpose of their lives."

When David was chosen to lead the Children of Yisra'el it states in Tehillim 78:72, that he did so with an "upright heart." There are of course many other heart designations in Scripture, but this gives us the idea of what G-d expects from us.

The heart is also is a testimony to the way believers conduct their lives. Romans 2:15 says that; "....the conduct the Torah dictates is written in their hearts." But, in B'resheet 8:21 ADONAI speaking says: "....the imaginings of a person's heart, are evil from his youth;" and it is because of this, that contamination of life and character sets in. As a result of this, the heart needs to be changed. Tehillim 51 states: "Create in me a clean heart, G-d" and speaking to Yisra'el ADONAI states in Yechezk'el 36:26; "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh."

The process of salvation begins in the heart by believing in G-d's saving power, repenting and being obedient to His commands, while rejecting Him and his laws brings hardness of heart. In Sh'mot Ch 5:2 Pharaoh says: "Who is ADONAI that I should obey Him....I don't know ADONAI..."From this we saw a hardness of heart evolve only to end in destruction. We need to not only know ADONAI, but we must be obedient in that knowledge.

Hardness of heart evidences itself by taking a light view of sin, which includes partial acknowledgement and confession of it, along with it is pride, conceit, ingratitude, lack of concern about the Word of G-d. What this accomplishes then, is compromise of faith, the stifling of spiritual convictions, shunning reproof (take blame), and just general ignorance of Divine things.

Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 3:12-19 states:  Watch out, brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize from the living God! 13 Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin. 14 For we have become sharers in the Messiah, provided, however, that we hold firmly to the conviction we began with, right through until the goal is reached. 15 Now where it says, "Today, if you hear God's voice, don't harden your hearts, as you did in the Bitter Quarrel," 16 who were the people who, after they heard, quarreled so bitterly? All those whom Moshe brought out of Egypt. 17 And with whom was God disgusted for forty years? Those who sinned - yes, they fell dead in the Wilderness! 18 And to whom was it that he swore that they would not enter his rest? Those who were disobedient. 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of lack of trust.

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25



A woman prays at the Western (Wailing) Wall during Rosh Chodesh.   
(Photo by Brian Negin)

Shalom Brothers and Sisters,

Then at the beginning of each of your months (rosh chodesh) you shall present a burnt offering to the Lord: two bulls and one ram, seven male lambs one year old without defect.  

(Numbers 28:11)

Around the end of November, people begin to ask us when Chanukah starts, since this fun holiday can begin anytime between the end of November to the end of December.

When is Chanukah? The Hebrew date is always the same, the 25th of Kislev. But, of course, people are really wondering what date the holiday falls on the Gregorian calendar. This year, Chanukah starts on December 6, so it is just a couple of weeks away.

The date of Chanukah or any other Jewish holiday doesn't change from year to year; however, a Jewish year can change in length from 353 to 354 or 355 days long. And a Jewish leap year can be 383, 384 or 385 days long.

Because the Jewish year is not the same length as the year on the civil calendar, the dates of holidays seem to shift quite a bit.



A Jewish girl recites prayers after lighting the chanukiahs and Shabbat

candles at Chanukah.  (Photo by Robert Couse)

Why are the two calendars different in length?

The civil Gregorian calendar is based on the solar cycle of 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time it takes the earth to make one complete rotation around the sun.

To correct the problem of those extra hours, an extra day is added to February every four years. This keeps the equinox (when the sun shines directly on the equator) occurring on generally the same date every year: March 19 or 20 and September 22 or 23.

The Jewish calendar is a luni-solar calendar. It considers three things: the yearly rotation of the earth around the sun, the daily rotation of the earth on its own axis, and the monthly cycle of the moon around the earth.

Each new moon cycle begins a new month or Rosh Chodesh. However, there are approximately 12.4 lunar months in every solar year. In other words, a lunar year is about 11 days shorter than a solar year.

If the Jewish calendar were a strict lunar calendar that has 29.5 days in a month, every 16 years or so the Fall Feasts would be held in Spring, and Passover would be held in autumn. This is the case with the Islamic month of Ramadan that shifts throughout the seasons making a full cycle every 33 years.



The Passover (1919 Bible Primer)

To keep the Jewish holidays and appointed times in their correct seasons, every two or three years the month of Nissan begins earlier and an extra month is added. This 13-month year is called Shanah Me'uberet, literally, a pregnant year.

The additional month of Adar 1 (also called Adar Aleph) is added before Adar, which is designated Adar 2.  Interestingly, Adar 1 is not used for celebrating such things as Yahrzeits (anniversary of a death), Bar Mitzvahs and birthdays. Adar 2 is considered the real month for honoring such occasions.

The addition of the extra month guarantees that Passover (Pesach) and the wheat harvest feast (Pentecost / Shavuot) occurs in the spring. There is still a slight shifting, however, that results in the Jewish High Holidays falling anywhere from early September all the way into October.

Between AD 320 and 385, Hillel II, the Nasi (Prince) of the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin, established the calendar that is used today which follows a 19-year cycle, realigning the lunar and solar calendars.

In this system the extra month is added on the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the cycle. The current cycle began at the start of the Jewish year 5758, which occurred on October 2, 1997.

The Gregorian calendar, however, was created in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and proclaimed the official civil calendar of Britain and the British colonies of America in 1752.



The new moon phase is the moon at its darkest in the night sky. 

The sky almost appears to have no moon at all.

Celebrating Rosh Chodesh, the New Month

"And on your joyous occasions, your fixed festivals and new moon days, you shall sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being."  (Numbers 10:10)

The beginning of a new month is pivotal in the Jewish calendar because all of the holidays are marked by their month.

Every month is either 29 days (known as Chaser or lacking, in Hebrew) or 30 days (Malei or full).  The beginning of the month is called Rosh Chodesh (Head of the Month).

In Biblical times and today, Rosh Chodesh itself is considered a minor holiday, much the same as the intermediate days of Passover.

In the Book of Samuel, we see that the new moon was honored with a feast: David said to Jonathan, Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast came, the king sat down to eat.  

(1 Samuel 20:5, 24)



Although Jewish men and women celebrate Rosh Chodesh, women

have a special connection to this semi-holiday.  It is traditionally believed

that because the women refused to relinquish their jewelry to the men in

the incident of the Golden Calf, they were given this special day as a kind

of holiday. The expressions of that holiday differ from community to

community.  (Photo by Brian Negin)

Even today we see vestiges of celebrating the new moon:

When I was a young boy living in South Bend Indiana, attending the Hebrew Institute Hebrew school, once a month we would have a party in celebration of the new moon or the beginning of the new Hebrew calendar month, said Barry, a member of the Bibles For Israel team. This meant an hour or so away from our studies when we could drink juice, eat fruit and just have fun.

On the Sabbath of Blessing of the month (Shabbat Mevarkhim HaChodesh), which is the last Sabbath before Rosh Chodesh, additional prayers are recited to create spiritual sustenance for the coming month.

The blessing asks God to renew the month for life and for peace, for gladness and for joy, for deliverance and for consolation.

Sometimes the Sabbath before Rosh Chodesh is just a day before. In that case, the Sabbath is called Shabbat Machar Chodesh (Shabbat of tomorrow's moon).

If the Sabbath falls on the new moon, it is called Shabbat Rosh Chodesh and additional Torah (Numbers 28:11) and Haftarah (Isaiah 66:23) readings are added.

The Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Torah reading describes the Rosh Chodesh offerings at the Temple:

At the beginning of each of your months you shall present a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls and one ram, seven male lambs one year old without defect.  (Numbers 28:11)

The Haftarah portion reveals that the nations will come to Jerusalem at the new moon to worship before the Lord when Messiah returns:

From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before Me, says the LORD.  (Isaiah 66:23)

This reveals that God has not and will not abandoned His appointed times.



Carrying the Torah at Rosh Chodesh (Photo by

Brian Negin)

Sanctification by the Sanhedrin

On Shabbat Mevarkhim (the Shabbat that blesses the new month), we remember the Sanhedrin's role in sanctifying this new moon, which was not always easy to spot in the sky.

During its rebirthing phase, the moon rises and sets with the sun for one or two days. Because of its proximity to the sun during this time, the moon is difficult to impossible to see.

After its apparent absence, it reappears in the night sky as a faint sliver in the west.

In ancient times the Sanhedrin (also known as the rabbinical city council) would only declare a Rosh Chodesh on the testimony of two reliable witnesses.

In a large courtyard called Beit Ya'azek, members of the rabbinical council would question witnesses who had claimed to have seen the new moon the previous day.



The Trumpet at the Feast of the New Moon (1890 Holman Bible)

The members of the Sanhedrin knew astronomy well and thus knew which questions to ask. They knew when the new moon was to appear and where it could be seen. Nevertheless, the sanctification of the moon required the testimony of two witnesses who had actually seen it.

As the witnesses arrived they would ask the following questions:

  • In which direction was the moon in relation to the sun?
  • Was it to the north or south?
  • How high in the sky did the moon appear?
  • In which direction were the crescent's tips facing?
  • How wide was it?

In each case they would first question the older member of the pair and then the younger. If their testimonies matched, they would proclaim the 30th day as Rosh Chodesh making that a 29 day month, and say, Mekudash! (Sanctified!). With everyone responding, Mekudash! Mekudash! (Chabad)

If no witnesses were found, the following day was celebrated as Rosh Chodesh and the previous month became a 30-day month.



Women of the Wall pray on Rosh Chodesh in Jerusalem(Photo by



The Midrash (book of rabbinic stories and teachings) teaches that the Jewish people who are holy (And you shall be holy to Me, for I, the Lord, am holy, (Leviticus 20:26)) sanctify (make holy) the new moon through their blessings of it.

And He directed the moon to renew herself as a crown of glory to (the Jewish nation), who likewise are destined to be renewed like her ...  (Chabad)

Rosh Chodesh is thus seen as a kind of second chance. It is a monthly reminder: just as the moon is renewed from almost complete extinction emitting not an iota of light, we are likewise destined to be renewed like her.

In Judaism this renewal is seen as a national rebirth when the Messiah returns, which will be shared by the entire world.  (Chabad)

Just as the moon wanes every month, the Jewish nation seemed to wane after the days of Solomon. Nevertheless, Israel will be restored to her full brightness, and the entire world will be impacted.



Jewish new moon celebration (Illustration from Juedisches Ceremoniel,

a German book published in 1724)

New Moon, New Life

The rebirth of the moon at Rosh Chodesh reminds us of the birth of our own lives. It, in essence, reminds us to approach God as a child in simplicity, seeking a one-to-one connection with Him.

To accomplish this, a person must relate to God completely devoid of his own personal qualifications in a sense of what the sages call mesirat nefesh (self-nullification) or self-sacrifice in God's service. Children, with their simple outlook on life, have no need to negate their existence in order to connect with God.

Rabbi Yossi Braun, writing for the Chabad website, also compares the new month to the birth of a child which always brings on a shower of mazel tovs (congratulations) and good feelings.

Even though babies cannot determine if they will have much to offer when they become full grown, each of us rejoices at the birth of a child because we're so glad that God has given us a new life.

The reason we love children so much is because of their innocence, simplicity, and purity. In truth, we don't appreciate them for their virtues, for what they have, but for what they lack, writes Braun.



Rosh Chodesh in Jerusalem (Photo by Brian Negin)

Children, he says, are not trying to prove anything; they just want to exist. We celebrate our children for who they are, or more correctly, because they are, writes Braun.

This step of passing into creation is a greater achievement than any subsequent transitions says Braun. All future achievements are built on this one thing: the very fact that the child exists.

And this is how the Jewish People relate to the moon. At the middle of the month the moon is round and full and has reached its perfection, but at Rosh Chodesh when it is a thin sliver, we celebrate the mere fact that it exists at all.

Braun compares this with the life of each individual. As a people, too, he writes, we have had different phases: our better days when everything was dandy and rosy, and our end-of-the-month waning times. But, we celebrate the fact that despite all odds, we exist. We are. And we're here to stay.

It surely seems that the Jewish People were at times throughout history about to disappear from planet Earth, but so does the moon. The shining of the moon anew each month reassures us of our ultimate rebirth the Redemption, Braun concludes.



Moon phases (Diagram by Andonee)

The phases of the moon remind us that no one is perfect and that although we may fall, we are never diminished in God's sight.

The righteous can fall even seven times, and rise again; but the wicked stumble with evil. (Proverbs 24:16)

The righteous fall but they get up again. Just as the moon rises and then declines, we are reminded of the high and low points in everyone's lives. And just as the moon keeps coming back each month, we must never give up.

Similarly, just as the waning of the moon suggests its extinction, it reminds us that at the darkest of times, when the Divine Presence seems to have left our world, it is really only hidden from our view.

The new moon also reassures of ultimate rebirth at the Redemption. Those who know the Lord, the Messiah of Israel, know that they are already redeemed by His blood.

Consequently, the rebirth of the moon each month can be for us a reminder of this rebirth, of this redemption from sin and death.



Sliver after the New Moon taken at sunset (Photo by Andrew McMillan)

The Final Redemption, The Messianic Rebirth

Although the rabbis compare the coming Messianic era to the full moon, the hope of redemption and His coming is compared to the new moon.

Its re-emergence is compared to the kingdom of David. "Though it may have lost much of its former radiance, it will be restored to its glory in messianic times," the Chabad website states.

Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.  (Psalm 89:35-37)

The Talmud (compendium of rabbinical teachings and discussions) teaches that when the Messiah returns, the moon will cease to diminish and remain as large and bright as the sun.

So while the celebration of the new moon reminds us of His coming, it also reminds us to renew our awareness of His Presence in our lives, and to push forward into the growth and change that He has for us, becoming all He created us to be.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  (Psalm 8:3-4)

Please be a part of Adonai's end-time plan for the complete restoration of Israel by helping us bring the love of God to the Holy Land and the nations.

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.... Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.... I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below... and all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Acts 2:17-21)

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field."  (Luke 10:2)

Dr. Akiva Sherman- Israeli Messianic Minister

Santa Monica, California  USA

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20

 "My heart says of you, Seek His face! Your face, Lord, I will seek."  (Psalm 27:8)

On Sunday evening, thousands of Jewish worshipers flocked to Jerusalem's Western (Wailing) Wall Plaza to recite penitential prayers called selichot  (forgiveness) סליחות on the first night of the new month of Elul.

As is traditional, Sephardic Jews will recite selichot for the entire month of Elul in anticipation of the Jewish High Holy Days also known as the Days of Awe ”Rosh HaShanah (when the Hebrew year of 5776 begins) and ten days later, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), which are just a month away.

Although Sephardic Jews recite these penitential prayers all month, Ashkenazi Jews will begin selichot on the Saturday night (or Sunday morning) before Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most revered days in the Hebrew calendar, when God judges all of mankind.

The month of Elul, therefore, is considered an important period of reflection, introspection, and repentance before those "days of judgment." 

To stress the reverential nature of this month, the shofar or ram's horn is sounded at each morning prayer service during the month of Elul.

Elul and 40 Days of Favor

"Good judgment wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction."  (Proverbs 13:15)

The first day of Elul also begins the 40-day period of the year referred to as Yemei Ratzon-Days of Favor.

According to Jewish tradition, it was during this time that the Lord forgave the People of Israel following the sin of the Golden Calf.  (Pirke Reb Eliezar)

It is during this period that we, therefore, repent and make confessions for our sins up to the 40th day of prayer and fasting on Yom Kippur.  

Why 40 days?

The 11th century French rabbi, Rashi, a famous commentator in the Talmud (a text of rabbinic teachings on the Bible), links it with God's call to Moses to ascend Mount Sinai on three different occasions, each time for 40 days.

Moses Receiving the Tablets of the Law, by Marc Chagall

On the first occasion, he received the Torah. Upon his return, he saw that the people had fallen into sin, the abomination of the worship of the Golden Calf. In anger, he destroyed the two tablets of the law on the 17th of Tammuz and burned the calf the next day.  (Exodus 32:19; Deuteronomy 9:11)

He then ascended the mountain for a second time to plead with God for His forgiveness, returning after 40 days, on the 29th of Av.  

(Exodus 32:30-31; Deuteronomy 9:18)

 

On the first of Elul, he ascended the mountain for a third period of 40 days to invoke mercy and complete atonement. He descended the mountain on Tishri 10 or Yom Kippur, says Rashi, with the second set of tablets and the assurance of God's forgiveness.  (Exodus 34:1, 27-28; Deuteronomy 10:1-5)

This 40-day period, therefore, represents a period of repentance and mercy following the incident of the Golden Calf.

Moses Destroys the Ten Commandments,
by James Tissot

It's no coincidence that there are 40 days in these Days of Favor. The number 40 has great significance in Judaism; in addition to repentance, it is associated with testing, judgment, renewal and new beginnings.

Although the Bible does not specifically state that this number is significant, the pattern of 40 is strong in Scripture.

  • Forty days after their arriving at Mount Sinai, God transformed the Jews from a nation of Egyptian slaves to one of His people (renewal).  
  • For their rebellion, the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness (judgment). 
  • After 40 years of wandering, the next generation entered their Promised Land (new beginning).

We can also see the pattern of judgment, renewal, and new beginning in the 40-day period of rain at the time of the Ark. This pattern even extends into the Brit Chadashah (New Testament):  

  • Yeshua (Jesus) was tempted and tested for 40 days and nights.  (Matthew 4:2)
  • He emerged from this testing into a new ministry (new beginning) with a mikvah (immersion) and anointing by the Holy Spirit (renewal).  (Matthew 3:16)
  • There were 40 days between His resurrection (renewal) and ascension into heaven (new beginning).  (Acts 1:3)

A Month of Introspection

"Your procession, God, has come into view, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary."  (Psalm 68:24)

Although Elul is a month of repentance, it is also a time to contemplate God's mercy and forgiveness.

It is, in essence, a period of renewal, an opportunity to draw close to God. Traditionally, this period is considered to be a time when God is accessible, when the King is in the field.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the founder of the Hassidic Chabad Orthodox branch of Judaism, explained that to meet with a king, one must go through appropriate channels. This generally means gaining the approval of a long line of bureaucrats before gaining access to the throne room. As well, one must meticulously prepare for the meeting, including proper dress.

There are, however, times when the king leaves his palace and goes out into the field. At this time, anyone can approach him, and all usual decorum and bureaucratic requirements are suspended. During the month of Elul, it is said that God makes Himself accessible in this way. 

Because of the King's presence, more time is spent in Torah study, in more fervent prayer, greater generosity and giving. His presence has made the field a holier place. (Chabad)

This is the month in which we are, in a sense, welcomed back as being children of God; we are experiencing a rendezvous with the Lord of the Universe. To prepare for this, we need to examine ourselves closely. Still we have the certainty that God will forgive us, no matter what our sins might be. These 40 days are a time of meeting with the King of Kings, time to be happy. 

 Elul and the Shemitah

"Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts."  (Nehemiah 10:31)

This year, the month of Elul has a special significance. It is the last month of the Shemitah year of 5775. A Shemitah is a year of rest, the seventh year in which the Bible commands us to plant no new crops but to eat from the remains of the previous year's produce. As tourists traveled around Israel this year, they saw rather unkempt fields with signs stating, this field keeps the Shemitah. In other words, nothing has been planted in this field this year.

Elul ends on Erev Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year's Eve), which is on Sunday, the 13th of September. As the year of the Shemitah, the Jewish year of 5776 will begin.

Shemitah means release, release for the land, but also release for each of us. According to the Bible, debts are to be forgiven and property returned to its original owner.

Debts can be spiritual, as well. So during Elul this year, in the spirit of Shemitah, of release, this is the time to consider our grudges and to release unto God those who may have offended us, freeing ourselves of any bitterness toward these individuals. 

This is also a time to pause and consider our ways, to set goals for personal improvement for the coming year.

We are to look within ourselves to discover what is in need of development, what needs to be renewed, and what needs to be let go of. We can evaluate our achievements and consider where we may have missed the mark.  

This process, which is referred to as teshuvah (repentance) or a spiritual return to God, is not passive.For teshuvah to be effective, we must set aside personal time away from distractions so that we can review the year, contemplate our accomplishments and consider our relationships with others.

We do this because we want to start the New Year fresh, and because we know that holding grudges only hurts ourselves. As the year of release draws to a close, now is the time to participate in this release and rid ourselves of resentments so we can face the New Year with a clean heart. 

Ominous Signs

Bestselling author and Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, known for his books The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah, relates current events to prophetic texts. In his work, he foresees a possible meltdown on the world's economy at the climax of the Shemitah on Elul 29.

The 29th of Elul falls on September 13th, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year. This last day of Elul ends the year 5775 and is the actual day of nullification when all debts are to be wiped out.

Because the Shemitah involved the forgiveness of debts, he believes that a wiping out of the world's economy would, essentially, fulfill that requirement.

In fact, during the most recent Shemitah year of 2007 and just before 2000 saw great crashes on Wall Street that brought economic downturns, forcing foreclosures and bankruptcies (wiping out of debt). These US collapses left in their wake a weakened currency and the destabilization of other nations.

Cahn believes the current economic crises, including those of Greece, Europe and China, will contribute to the approaching nullification of 2015 on a more global scale.

The Greek crisis specifically deals with issue of debt and debt relief, the central issue of the Shemitah. Whether or not the Greek crisis finds a resolution, the very fact that such sudden destabilization occurred as the Shemitah nears its conclusion may be taken as a first alarm, he said.

Cahn suggests that the slipping of the US away from God may be a harbinger of a possible coming economic destruction. What we are watching now is a massive destabilization throughout the world, from ISIS, to the war in Syria, to the collapse of Greece, the collapse of the Chinese stock market, the destabilizing of the European Union, the issue of nuclear weapons and Iran, the moral and spiritual transformation of America, the deterioration of relations between America and Israel, and more, Cahn said.  (WND)

This all seems rather ominous as we watch the devaluation of the Chinese Yen and consider the destabilizing affect this will probably have on world finances. 

Cahn says that the Shemitah may also mean the fall that is, the greatest and most rapid historic decline in American morals is now taking place.  

In the year of the Shemitah, the number of states that struck down the biblical definition of marriage went from a small minority, in the teens, to the majority, and then at the end of June, came one of the most momentous decisions in American judicial history, and history itself, the striking down of the biblical and historic definition of marriage, said Cahn adding, This is a pivotal event with colossal ramifications, and one that draws America one step closer to judgment.  (WND)

Cahn explains how marriage, which is described in the New Testament as a type or foreshadowing of the marriage of the body of Messiah with Yeshua (Jesus) has been twisted into what humanistic thinking decides is more convenient. He says a line has been crossed leaving us with only one option, praying for repentance and mercy. 

As the nation of Israel unashamedly and continuously sinned against God, they fell under God's wrath and judgment, and so may other countries. Yet, as individual Israelites sincerely repented and prayed for mercy, they received it and were restored and so may other countries be. 

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

As Believers, we know that the throne of God is always accessible to us through Yeshua. Yet, we sometimes need a structured time to make right what has gone wrong. So let us take full advantage of these 40 days of favor, sincerely repenting of our sins against others and against God, asking for His mercy as we extend mercy to those who have sinned against us. 

Give us our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  (Matthew 6:12)

As we take these steps to nullify our debts against others and contemplate our own character, now is a good time to draw closer to God and prepare for a new beginning through greater dedication to Him and His word, as well as through contemplation of His manifold mercies.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)

You can make a difference during this month of Elul by helping us bring Yeshua to Israel and the nations.

 

"Comfort, comfort My people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins."  

(Isaiah 40:1-2)

Dr. Akiva Sherman- Israeli Messianic Minister

Santa Monica, California USA

 

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07
The Day the U.S. Deleted God     The Day the U.S. Deleted God

Abraham Lincoln, as the 16th president of the USA, embraced the first principle of emuna that everything is from God, even the Civil War; his successors think they know better…


The day the U.S. took an official step toward abandoning God was September 16, 2014.
 
That was the day the U.S. Air Force permanently deleted the “so help me God” requirement in their enlistment oath. Actually, it was the U.S. Department of Defense who removed it. And all because the Air Force was threatened with a lawsuit for not allowing an atheist airman to reenlist after he crossed the reference to God out of the oath.
 
Sounds like no big deal, especially in a society valuing the separation of church and state.
 
But what makes it noteworthy is the timing.
 
The U.S. is now fighting a holy war, which is how the enemy sees it. America is currently engaged in a war against ISIS terrorists whose belief inspires them to slaughter and torture nonbelievers on their bloody road toward a global caliphate. Their belief is as strong as it is evil, and they’re eager to kill for it.

While ISIS menacingly proclaims “There is no god but Allah” on its ominous black flag, the U.S. Department of Defense is actively deleting God’s name where it already exists. The Defense Department has decided to confront ISIS’s malignant “emuna” with a lack of emuna in God.
 
Yet emuna in God had always been integral to the United States. America was created and governed throughout its history as a God-fearing, or at least a God-conscious, nation.
 
When the Puritans arrived in America from England in 1630 on the Mayflower, it was with the goal of creating “a city of God.”
 
When the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776, they acknowledged God by declaring that “all men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” And even America’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” written in 1814, recognizes God with the verses: “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation / Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just / And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’”
 
That phrase, “In God We Trust,” started appearing on coins (as an Act of Congress) in 1864 and finally became the country’s national motto just 58 years ago when President Eisenhower signed it into law.
 
And yet another God-conscious phrase, “So help me God,” caps off the oaths of the President, Supreme Court justices, Congress members and new citizens. Today, the Army, Navy and Marine Corps all give enlistees the option to say "so help me God."
 
But for Air Force enlistees, it’s no longer an option.
 
This is indicative of a leadership that’s derailed from the American legacy of acknowledging God, especially during a time of war. And it contrasts sharply to a time when American presidents and leaders valued America’s relationship with God.
 
Around a century and a half ago, President Abraham Lincoln sat at a desk in the White House and placed a scrap of lined paper on it. Lincoln was anguished by the Civil War and decided to put his most personal thoughts on paper. Instead of writing about his frustration with his generals or about his political enemies, he wrote what was most on his mind.
 
He wrote about God.
 
Lincoln began with the words, “The will of God prevails.”
 
He then continued, “In great contests, each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time…. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true, that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By His mere quiet power on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun, He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.”
 
Lincoln’s personal musings on that scrap of lined paper was undated and untitled, though it later became known as “Meditation on the Divine Will.” It shows that Lincoln, as the 16th president of the United States, had embraced the first principle of emuna that everything is from God, even the Civil War. He also seemed to have understood the second principle of emuna, that everything God does is for the best, which is why some historians believe that Lincoln’s “Meditation on the Divine Will” led to his belief that God willed the Civil War so the slaves in America would finally be emancipated.
 
Lincoln is just one example of an American leadership with a connection to God and emuna. Yes, America has a long history of prejudice, racism and anti-Semitism especially within a religious setting (radio personality Father Coughlin in the 1930s was a notorious anti-Semite), but the emerging nation was nevertheless led with a recognition of God and Divine Providence.
 
The recognition of God among the nations and all humanity is what we Jews pray for every day in the Kaddish and Aleinu prayers. We Jews pray for the age of Moshiach to arrive speedily and in our own days when we can witness this universal recognition of God.
 
Today’s rabbinic leaders all say ours is the generation before Moshiach. So it seems ironic that the U.S. Defense Department is running backwards so close to the finish line by deleting God’s name from the Air Force’s enlistment oath. With the rise of the bloodthirsty ISIS and its quest to take over the world, not to mention a looming nuclear Iran and Ebola pandemic, now’s not the time to turn away from God.
 
Now’s the time to strengthen our emuna and recognize God.
 
Because now’s the time we especially need God’s protection.

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12

I'd like to talk a little bit this morning about oil and what Scripture has to say about it. For several years I was the outstate fleet superintendent for a major beverage company. One of my many tasks was to introduce and maintain and extensive oil analysis program for over 1500 pieces of transportation and warehouse equipment. Analyzing motor oils and other lubricants for the purpose of getting the most life out of the equipment, allowed us to determine when and how often oil changes were needed. This information was valuable in assessing the need to sell and or rebuild equipment also, which contributed to the economic well being of fleet maintenance.
One of the great lessons that I learned from this, is that oil for the most part does not break down or lose its ability to lubricate in and of itself. What happens then that causes oil to get black and require replacement, is the contamination that it picks up while it does its work of lubricating. If this contaminated oil is not replaced with new fresh oil, severe damages can occur to the very heart system of the vehicle, carrying with it, high costs. The spiritual lesson here is great, as oil is likened unto the Ruach HaChodesh in our lives, we too become contaminated over time and that's why its crucial to ask for a fresh filling as well. Ephesians 5:18 says: "Keep on being filled with the Spirit..."

The purity of oil for the lamps of the menorah is emphasized in the opening verses of this weeks parashah Tetzaveh (order/command). It's quite clear that Torah demands the olive oil to be in its purest uncontaminated state to serve as fuel for the menorah light in the Tabernacle and even later the Temple in Yerushalayim. The purpose of the menorah was not to provide light for G-d, so to speak, as He does not need our light, but rather it pointed to the annointed one to come that was light in the beginning and would profess to be the eternal light of the world that men would need to walk after. B'rit Chadashah I Yochanan 1:5 states in part: God is light, and there is no darkness in him - none! In Yochanan 8:12 it states: Yeshua spoke to them again: "I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life." Read Sh'mot 27:20~21 pg 91 The phrase in vs 21; "burning continually" is in the Hebrew; "ner tamid" or the eternal lamp, which is still used exclusively in synagogues around the world, yet today. Our parashah however is not the first mention of the oil for the lamp, but rather we saw it in last weeks parashah Terumah, where it is listed as a donation or contribution that is uplifted from one's heart. The word Terumah comes from the Hebrew root: rum øåÌí, which means exalted or uplifted. In other words, the contributions were to be lifted out and set apart as a free will offering from the heart for a higher purpose. Read Sh'mot 25:1~7 pg 88
An intersting element that we find here, is that the oil for the light as well as the spices for the annointing oil and fragrant incense, are mentioned with those gifts required for the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Even though they are listed here, they really are not construction components, but rather they fall into a separate category of those materials that were required for avodah (Worship). It becomes increasingly clear then that the purest of oil to be used for the menorah was not just physical so that its light would be strong and bright, not flickering in a weak condition from an impure or contaminated source, but rather, again, it points to a strong moral and spiritual condition as well, which is exclusive of worship.
The Light that G-d's Word speaks of here then is dependent on the spiritual and moral purity of its orign or source. Concerning Yeshua as the source of light we read in I Yochanan 3:5: You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and that there is no sin in him. Just as the sediment and pulp which contaminate the oil, leading to a dim, weak and flickering flame, so too harmful imperfections of character and behavior weaken the prospect of letting one's light shine brightly in a place of darkness as well. Even though the source of this oil is pure and uncontaminated, the things that we love and the actions we show are contaminated with darkness so we become bad testimony of the One true Light that desires to give us His ner tamid (eternal life)Let's turn to: Yochanan 3:19~21 pg 1333
Darkness is the opposite of Light, so if light is life then that means that darkness is death. In Kohelet (Eccl) 10:1 King Shlomo is not alluding to the pure oil of the menorah, but rather alluding to the highly refined and purified oil of the perfumers he states: "Just as dead flies make perfumed oil stink, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor" Tragically as we saw earlier, if people love the darkness as expressed by their evil actions, they are on an active path of death, and it stinks. The only recourse for those dead flies- walking in darkness is to be united with the One Who is Light. In so doing, they no longer function in darkness but now they bring light into it exposing its foolishness.
Read Ephesians 5:8~20 pg 1463
Torah, therefore, places a great deal of emphasis on the oil for moral and spiritual reasons as we've seen. A primary reason for this emphatic understanding of the fuel for the light is this: If impurity and contamination could try to alter or change the original purity of the oil, the Light of the menorah itself would then be degraded and cheapened. Thankfully the origin of the true Light cannot be made impure, however if we, who are called to be light, consort with deeds that are produced by darkness, we make mockery of that Light with actions that are not accomplished through G-d. Mattityahu 5:14~16 states: "You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don't cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven."As we mentioned earlier, the Light is all about worship
As we alluded to earlier, the pure olive oil was primarily about Light, but Scripture tells us more about this oil as well. Olive oil was one of the great commodities of the ancient world, and in its various forms of purity it was not only fuel for light but it was used as fragrant healing lotion, and mixed with spices it became incense and annointing oil. It was used for meal offerings, cooking, lubricating, and even for perfumes. In conjunction with the text of Sh'mot 27:20 that we read earlier, the Talmud in Menachot 86a suggests that the olives for the menorah oil were to remain on the tree until they have ripened and are full of oil. Then they are picked and pressed with extraction by pressure for purity. This produces the first and the best oil of the olive harvest for the expressed purpose of true and pure Light. Olives for true Light are never crushed or ground in a mill, as this results in impurity.

With this understanding then, Torah is teaching us that out of all the skills and talents a person possesses, the first and best of these is to be actively employed in the avodah (worship and service) to G-d and to His mitzvote.We are never to bring an offering to G-d that is second best or worse, an inferior contribution, or one that is purely by default. Rather we must offer our best, our firstfruits, sanctified and set apart for Him. Romans 12:1 expresses it best in the words: "I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God's mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; it is the logical "Temple worship" for you." If a person is wholeheartedly willing to contribute the first and the best that he has to offer through his gifts for the worship of G-d and for the advancement of His Kingdom, his light will never go out.

We had made a connection earlier between the Ruach HaChodesh and oil. We saw in Sh'mot 25:1 that annointing oil was also for the purpose of sanctification and kohen ordination but not construction. It was mixed with spices, so its level of purity may have been similar as that for the menorah, but it was forbidden for regular human use and could not be replicated. Yeshua quoting from the Prophet Yeshayahu while honoring the haftarah reading in synagogue, gives credence to this not as the oil for light, but rather through the oil of annointing. Read Luke 4:16~21 pg 1294
Originally the annointing oil was exclusively used for the Kohanim and the appurtenances in the Tabernacle, but its use was extended in later times to Prophets and Kings. The very name Messiah in Hebrew which is Mashiach, means "Annointed," and certainly Yeshua fullfilled all three categories of: Prophet, Kohen (Priest), and King.
Finally I'd like to look briefly at oil that is used for healing. We talked about the menorah with its pure oil not only sybolizing the physical but also the spiritual. The same can be said concerning oil for healing. In Luke Ch 10: 25~37 Yeshua shares the story of the Good Samaritan, who upon finding the man who had been robbed, nearly dead. He took oil and wine and applied them to the wounds and bandaged him up, mercifully providing life and physical healing. We mentioned previously that oil was a staple and it was common for people to carry a small container of oil with them. Mixed with mercy the Samaritan sets example. Pg 1306
Turn to Ya'akov Ch 5:14~15 pg 1513The olive oil is a symbol of healing here, using the authority of the Master's Name in its application, whereas the prayer offered by faith will bring physical healing through the Master and spiritual healing will follow. Tehillim 103:3 reiterates this thought as it states: He forgives all your offenses, he heals all your diseases...
Oil, whether it is used for annointing or for healing, is really a spiritual transfer of authority to a particular G-d appointed position or to change the status of one's physical and spiritual condition. Either way it points to Mashiach. The pure oil for use as fuel in the light of the menorah, represents from a physical standpoint that the light needs to shine brightly, never go dim or flicker, and certainly never be diminished. Spiritually the pure oil of the menorah represents our worship united with the Master, not contaminated, not self seeking but committed totally to give Him our first and our best.

 

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13

 

Korach Parashah #38, Sivan 30, 5770-6/12/10
B'midbar 16:1~18:32
 
A  This weeks parashah Korach, provides us the understanding of how the aborted rebellion against Moshe has a major relevance for all generations and societies. It's perhaps not so much the 3,000 year old story of a historical event, as it is the story of human failure and personality faults within the community. The character of Korach sets a pattern before us as it were, of an ambitious, talented, self confident, aggressive individual who feels that the community does not appreciate his talents and abilities. Korach believes that he has been slighted by his assigned position of levitical duty. After all, each time the instruction to break camp arose, it was Aharon and his sons who would go into the Tabernacle and cover the holy furnishings and utensils for transport, while Korach from the family of K'hat couldn't even touch them but could only carry them on poles.
 
In his attempt to usurp the G-d given authority of Moshe and Aharon, Korach was in essence, contesting the authority of G-d's Word which was transmitted through Moshe to the community. Korach had convinced himself that Moshe and Aharon had elevated themselves to the position of spiritual leadership in the community, promoting their own personal agendas.In his frustrations, he not only seeks to demean Moshe and Aharon's positions in the community, but he seeks to raise himself up with his own lofty purposes and ideas. He becomes a self prescribed advocate of the people's rights, proclaiming a message of democracy, freeing them from the autocracy (rule by one person) of Moshe. Sounds pretty good doesn't it, perhaps Korach is responsible for introducing the embryonic form of what would evolve as a Tea Party. 
Read B'midbar 16:1~7 and 31~35 pg 167~168
 
As typically most self seeking, ambitious people lacking scruples do, Korach realizes he cannot accomplish his task by himself. Korach proceeds to take men who were in leadership positions themselves but were no longer content with things the way they were in the community. United by the strands of hatred and disrespect towards Moshe and his leadership, Korach's campaign speech proclaims that "the entire community is holy," but he is really saying: "Why can't I be Coheyn Gadol?"                                                         

Appealing to the emotions and predjudices of the people in an effort to gain some political power, Korach has been successful in his appeal to at least 250 people who have chosen to side with him. Interesting to note is the tribe of Reuven is mentioned here in their support, which perhaps gives credence to the fact that both the K'hat division of the Levi'im and Reuven were neighbors in their placement at the south side of the Tabernacle. This might then suggest the influence that neighbors can have towards each other.
 
B       Bearing the character traits as we mentioned earlier, Korach actually presents himself as a false messiah, the savior of the people, a great physician as it were with the prescriptions necessary to cure all of the afflictions of a generation that sees no bright future for itself. It's no coincindence that Korach raises himself up outside of the community with his campaign of rebellion, on the heels of Moshe's statement to the people as recorded inB'midbar 14:20~24 pg 164 Read
Seeing no possible solution for themselves, and none for their future, they make a concentrated effort to turn away even further from G-d and turn towards the illusion and rebellion that Korach has to offer.
 
Chapter 16:1 of today's parashah gives us perhaps one suggested explanation of the statement that Korach "took" men. Verse 1 begins in the Hebrew: Vayi'kach Korach ben Yitz'ahar or in the English, Korach son of Yitz'ahar took... and we find out that what he took was "men." In order to effectively take men from the community, he himself had to separate himself from the community. If Korach really believed that he had a legitimate grievance against Moshe, he could have approached Moshe with the concern and resolution would have followed.
 
Moshe was the G-d appointed teacher and leader of B'nei Yisra'el. Korach, who was a part of this community would have never had the insolence or boldness to take a stand against Moshe, maintaining his presence in the community. As a result, Korach removes himself first from the community and then establishes his own community composed of 250 leaders who had now embraced his campaign promises, thus he takes them "out" as it were for a short lived communal experience. No longer under Moshe's leadership, or even the authority of G-d's Word as transmitted through Moshe, Korach finds little difficulty in approaching Moshe as his equal attempting to usurp his authority.

If Korach would have identified himself as a member of Moshe's community, as one of his disciples, he never would have been able to levy his assaults against Moshe in questioning the truths of Moshe's words. because in doing so, it would only cause a negative reflection on himself.
 
C       Korach, we must remember experienced the redemption from Mitsrayim, he saw the parting of the Sea of Reeds, he saw food and water no less than miraculously provided by ADONAI. Moshe had a special relationship with ADONAI, after the golden calf episode ADONAI threatened to destroy the nation and following the episode of the spies He once again warrants their destruction. Both times ADONAI listened to Moshe's prayers and pleas to not destroy them, and He honors the request.

Korach and his followers understood Moshe's special relationship with ADONAI, and how He would support Moshe in his decision making. Blinded by rebellious and self promulgated agenda, Korach leaves the truth, gathers allies, and goes outside of the community, not cognizant of their own impending doom. In HaBrit Chadashah I Timothy 3:15, Rav Shaul defines the household of G-d, calling it the Messianic community of the living G-d, the pillar and the support of the truth.Outside of the community then, would suggest a place of willingness to forfeit the pillar and support of G-d's truth.
D       We can learn a great deal from this episode of Yira'el's journey. We see how good people from within the community, can and will through dissatifactions that become contagious to their neighbors and personal agenda seeking, contribute to strife and division in the community from an outside position. We must realize that this is not a new concept of community destruction, but has literally been around for thousands of years. Just as one of HaSatans primary goals and objectives is the destruction of the family, it extends into the community of believers as well. Rav Shaul in his letter to the Messianic Community in Rome Ch 16:17~20 states: "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put snares alongside the teaching in which you have been trained - keep away from them. For men like these are not serving our Lord the Messiah but their own belly; by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the innocent. For everyone has heard about your obedience; therefore I rejoice over you. However, I want you to be wise concerning good, but innocent concerning evil. And God, the source of shalom, will soon crush the Adversary under your feet."

We have talked about Moshe, Y'hoshua and Kalev having been endowed with the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of G-d), it's interesting to note that the primary source of division in the community is people who do not have the Spirit. In Y'hudah (Book of Jude), verse 17~19 pg 1532 it states: "But you, dear friends, keep in mind the words spoken in advance by the emissaries of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. They told you, "During the acharit hayamim (end of days) there will be scoffers following their own godless passions." These are the people who cause divisions. They are controlled by their impulses, because they don't have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith, and pray in union with the Ruach HaKodesh. Thus keep yourselves in God's love, as you wait for our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to give you the mercy that leads to eternal life."

Scoffing, godless passions, and impulses that control without the Spirit are actually bad habits of one's body that have been produced by yetzer hara the sin nature.
 Unless we, as believers continually and actively by the power of the Ruach, put to death our body's bad habits to which it has become accustomed and conditioned by our old nature, these bad habits will find expression, so that we will certainly die.

Read Romans 8:1~14pg1410
                                                                                         
This certain death is physical, spiritual and eternal, and perhaps Korach and his rebellious community that lacked the Spirit of G-d, have provided a vivid picture of what this might look like.However, as we saw in verse 6, by actively and continually setting the mind on the things of the Spirit, you will live.

We alluded earlier to the idea that Korach was in essence playing the role of anti-messiah in his successful platform of rebellious campaigning to the 250 that chose to ally with him. In his first letter Yochanan ties in the sin nature with the anti-messiah, and goes on to explain that as believers we have the truth in Messiah. The context of the text suggests that because G-d the Father has Messiah-ized us with the real Messiah Yeshua, we understand the danger that anti-messiahs bring. It's crucial to know from this text also that the anti-messiahs went out from us (the community) but were not part of us.
Read I Yochanan 2:15~21 pg 1525   and   4:1~3 pg 1527

E       As leader of the community Moshe asserted a bold confidence towards Korach by stating that ADONAI will show who are His and who will be the Holy one that can approach Him, and a short time later explaining to Datan and Aviram that the deaths of those who allied with Korach would not be a common death, but something new and different. The ground opened up and swallowed all of those who allied with Korach and the 250 former leaders of the community were destroyed by the fire of ADONAI.

We will close this morning with instruction from the writer of the Book of Acts, directed by Rav Shaul to the leadership of the community.
Read Acts 20:28~31a pg 1389
Well, we saw that rebellion will and does rise up within the community, and as it gathers allies it soon goes out to form its own definition of community. Before it leaves and even after it has departed it can cause division and sow seeds of discord. It is not a new concept of community destruction, but rather a very old and well worn means that HaSatan uses for his purposes. We recognize it by its lack of G-d's Spirit and we see how it operates in the flesh of its yetzer hara (sin nature). Its end is certain physical, spiritual and eternal death, but if we as believers stay fixed on the things of the Spirit, putting to death the things of the flesh, yet while we are appointed a physical death, we will attain a life that is eternal. You have been Messiah-ized by the Holy One, Blessed be He!"
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02
Mas'ei (Stages/Journeys) B'midbar 33:1~36:13
26 Tamuz 5769/July 18, 2009
 
A       As we bring the Book of B'midbar (Numbers) to a close this week, being a regular year we have a double parshiyot. At the very onset of the second parashah Mas'ei (Mas'ay) the Torah as if in an effort to compile a tourist's guide, painstkingly lists the 42 stages or sequence of events that give definition to the wilderness journeys that B'nei Yisra'el had made in the last 40 years. Sparing the details of each place of encampment for the most part finds the explicit name of each place mentioned, those which find later mention, as well as those places that are never alluded to again.
 
Read B'midbar Ch 33
 
Not unreasonable by any standards, a curious mind might question why each one of the stages of encampment is listed by name. A valid answer would suggest that we look at what the word Torah means and behold, we are reminded that it expresses instruction for our lives. Even in our halachah (walk of faith) today, we have many great examples of what to do and what not to do as expressed through the examples given in Torah. B'nei Yisra'el as a people, as a nation, and certainly not excluding the role that her Divinely appointed Leadership had to assume, all point to life lessons that are applicable for each of us even yet today.
 
As we mentioned concerning each one of these 42 stages or journeys, reference is made specifically by name, reaquainting the readers mind with the often familiar circumstances that were rendered at each location. Some as we remember were very wonderful and exciting experiences while others were very bitter and excruciating circumstances. In revisiting these place names, we quickly recall the blessings of obedience and the punishment of disobedience, a stark reminder of perhaps even our own life journeys.
 
It's interesting to note as we read in verse 3, that the very beginning of this 42 stage process begins with redemption by the blood of the lamb in Mitzrayim, and such a proud moment it was; as the B'nei Yisra'el marched with a new spirited self respect in their transition from slavery to the status of redeemed.                     
The sequence of events and the places where they occured following the factor of Redemption, point to and illustrate clearly the path that is chartered by obedience in contrast to the path of disobedience. Each one of these places mentioned when considered collectively, served to purport a means of spiritual preparation leading up to the last step of the journey into the Promised Land.
 
The lessons learned were beyond comprehension, and regardless of whether the place echoed tsuris (trouble) or if it resounded with pleasantry, ADONAI was faithful in leading His people. Many valuable lessons were learned and great knowledge was attained. If we apply the knowledge that we gain from life's journeys, we will ultimately gain strength and wisdom that will in turn afford us the coping skills that are so necessary when each step of the journey offers something challenging.
 
Read D'varim Ch 8:11~16 pg 207
 
In the current stages of our life's journeys, we do and will experience taxing and testing situations. Like Yisra'el we need to gain the strength and wisdom that comes from these experiences. The very thing that brought Yisra'el to the place of their redemption was their cries and groanings ascending up to the Throne-room of G-d, and He remembered His covenant with Avraham. G-d will still hear the cries of His people today, as a matter of fact, our crying out to G-d is the very first step in the process of our redemption.
 
We need to view, as hard as it seems, the testing and trials of our journeys as opportunities to enhance spiritual growth, and in reality insn't that the whole point or purpose of difficult tests and trials in our lives, to do good for us in the end? In conjunction with the words of D'varim 8:16, Ya'akov (James) Ch 1:2~3 states an instruction that we adhere to most frequently, he states: "Regard it all as joy, my brothers, when you face various kinds of temptations; for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance."  He goes on in Ch 5:11 saying: 11 Look, we regard those who persevered as blessed. You have heard of the perseverance of Iyov, and you know what the purpose of ADONAI was, that ADONAI is very compassionate and merciful. 
The trials and testings that we often refer to as simply hiccups in the road, or more severely; pot holes, or maybe there's road construction going on and we are on a path of diversion, well, all of these obstructions that we face on our journeys cannot be ascribed to as bad luck, or G-d hating us, buth rather these are necessary and specifically chosen or allowed to affect our lives in such a way that we will grow and become spiritually mature.
In verse 48 of B'midbar Ch 33, we read that the 42nd stage of the journey ended in the Plains of Moav, across from Yericho, with the next step being the Promised Land. So, in retrospect the 42 stages began with redemption and ended with the Promised Land. An interesting phenomeon brings us to the geneology of Yeshua as recorded in Mattityahu Ch 1, we find here that there are 42 generations beginning with the one to whom the Land was promised and ending with the Lamb of Redemption, just the opposite of the Wilderness experience. 

Read Mattityahu Ch1:1~17 pg 1223
                                  

Each and every of the 42 generations played a significant role in bringing about Redemption to the world. Just as G-d made the Land Covenant with Avraham and starting to set the stage for redemption through Yitzchak, Ya'akov, Yosef and his brothers in Mitzrayim, all of their journeys and generations pointed to the more perfect act of Redemption for all humankind, to be accomplished in the person of Yeshua.
For us here today, whom I trust have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb Yeshua, our journey has begun. As our predecessors before us have seemingly set the standard for us, we have instruction concerning the pitfalls and snares that tend to obstruct our path and the proper as well as the improper way to address these problems.All of this comes through G-d's Word. 
Yisra'el's journey began with the redeeming blood of the Lamb in Mitzrayim and ended in the Promised Land. In a reverse sequence, Yeshua's geneology began with Avraham the recipient of the Promise of the Land, and ended with the Redeemer. Once again in an inverted order, our journey begins with the Redeemer and also will end with the promise of a life in a place where there is no more trial or testing. Just as the Redeemer is preparing this place for us even now. Learn from the past, humble yourselves, see testing as opportunity for spiritual growth, and be blessed in the persevering of your faith.    
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04
B'midbar 19:1~22:1
12 Tamuz 5769/July 4, 2009

A       Being a regular year, we have a double parshiyot this week. The first parashah #39 is: Chukkat and the second #40 is Balak. There is an amazing amount of study in these portions but I want to focus this morning on Chukkat, because I belive hidden under its obvious surface is an element of testing that demonstrates what true spiritual maturity looks like.In addition we also get a look at the human side of Moshe which we don't see very often. 
          Ultimately a condition of true spiritual maturity lies in kavana, a genuine repentance for sins that draws from as its source, a heart of contrition. This is G-D's way and it is not the easiest nor is it always the first considered way. With a lack of faith once again in G-D's perfect provision for His people, becoming a contagion, we find B'nei Yisra'el complaining against the leadership and ultimately against ADONAI once again.
 
Read B'midbar Ch 20:1~5 pg 172
 
          It's in an astounding wave of actions, following on the heels of the Korach rebellion, when ADONAI through new and supernatural manifestations had confirmed the rites and the order of His chosen leadership, that B'nei Yisra'el continue to rebel and speak against these Divinely appointed leaders.They had just experienced first hand the consequences of disobedience and rebellion in the deaths of around 15,000 people, and now they present themselves as if they had never witnessed any account of it.
 
          Just what was it that they were angrily kvetching about now? First of all they were without water, and and in their wilderness experience this was the third recorded time of such a concern which leads us to understand that provision was adequately made in the first two situations, so why is now an issue?
          The second concern levied against Moshe was their disappointment that they were still alive. The absence of water was certain death in the wilderness climate, but they complained because they didn't have it, and if somehow it were to miraculously appear they would live. What a bummer! Confusion abounds in the camp with the abandonment of ADONAI.    
 
The third conflict of dispute was the age old (probably almost 40 yrs now) question as to why Moshe forced them to leave Mitsrayim only to bring them and their livestock into a wilderness void of grains (seed), figs, vines, pomegranates or even water.

B       I would imagine that another attitude adjustment program Divinely initiated would hardly bring about any other results that would be different to their current situation, so what was the underlying problem? I believe that they had lost hope, the lives of their disobedient parents and grandparents had been strewn across and under the wilderness floor, so their own lives seemingly of little value now in their present circumstances, ushered in a feeling of hopelessness.                                      
 
          When one falls into a state of hopelessness, the first tendency is to turn away from ADONAI, and find someone to pin the blame on (in this case the leadership) for the shameful condition they find themselves in. Yirmeyahu 17:13 states:"Hope of Yisra'el ADONAI! All who abandon You will be ashamed, those who leave you will be inscribed in the dust, because they have abandoned ADONAI, the source of Living Water."
 
C       The state of hopelessness attacks ones memory, the reason for the wilderness experience has been forgotten, and the accusations against Moshe for making them leave Mitsrayim and bringing them there were unfounded. If they would only remember the words of Torah in Sh'mot 2:23~25 where it states: "Sometime during those many years the king of Egypt died, but the people of Isra'el still groaned under the yoke of slavery, and they cried out, and their cry for rescue from slavery came up to G-d. G-d heard their groaning, and G-d remembered his covenant with Avra- ham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov. God saw the people of Isra'el, and G-d ack- nowledged them."
Read Sh'mot Ch 3:6~10 pg 62

The text indicates that the blame for B'nei Yisra'el being taken out of Mitzrayim was not Moshe's fault, but it was a result of G-D Divinely intervening in response to their cries to be redeemed from slavery. Moshe as we know from Sh'mot 4:10~17 really didn't even want the task of leadership. And how quickly they forgot that the reason for their being in the wilderness in the first place, was because of disobedience and rebellion, after spying out the land.     
 
B'midbar 14:31~35 we see the consequence of disobedience. We can always chose to be obedient or disobedient, but we cannot chose the consequences. The text states: "But your little ones, who you said would be taken as booty - them I will bring in. They will know the land you have rejected. But you, your carcasses will fall in this desert; and your children will wander about in the desert for forty years bearing the consequences of your prostitutions until the desert eats up your carcasses. It will be a year for every day you spent reconnoitering the land that you will bear the consequences of your offenses - forty days, forty years. Then you will know what it means to oppose me! I, ADONAI, have spoken.' I will certainly do this to this whole evil community who have assembled together against me - they will be destroyed in this desert and die there."
          The taxing of the memory in its contribution to hopelessness also applied to their forgetting ADONAI's words to Moshe in Sh'mot 19:3~6: Moshe went up to G-d, and ADONAI called to him from the mountain: "Here is what you are to say to the household of Ya'akov, to tell the people of Isra'el: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set apart.'These are the words you are to speak to the people of Isra'el."
          The words of the Prophet Yesha'yahu in Ch 40:31 states in part: "....but those who hope in ADONAI will renew their strength, they will soar aloft as with eagles' wings;" 

So with our textual understanding as to why B'nei Yisra'el left Mitzrayim and why they were wandering around in the wilderness being quit clear then, it is probably fair to ascertain that they themselves knew the reasoning also. It really had nothing to do with Moshe, but had everything to do with themselves based on acts of their own choosing.
D       It's pretty easy for us a believers today to assault someone else's integrity in the face of what appears to be blatant sin in their lives. Let me ask you this;Have you ever levied false accusations against someone in a position of leadership,have you ever been guilty of Lashon Hara or gossip about a person in leadership, have you ever challenged the decisions that a leader has made without knowing all of the facts, or have you ever said about a leader: "I didn't vote for them," in such a way to suggest your disapproval of their leadership position?
 
Romans 13:1~2 states: "Everyone is to obey the governing authorities. For there is no authority that is not from G-d, and the existing authorities have been placed where they are by G-d. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities is resisting what G-d has instituted; and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves." Mishlei (Proverbs) 8:15~16 states: "By Me kings reign, and princes make just laws. By Me princes govern, nobles too, and all the earth's rulers."
  In our parashah Read B'midbar Ch 20:6~12 pg 172  We are told here, that Moshe and Aharon were guilty of losing faith in ADONAI by striking the Rock, and in D'varim Ch 1:37 Moshe goes so far in his hopeless situation of unrepentence that he blames Yisra'el for ADONAI's anger that prevents him from going into the land.
          Certainly we try to understand Moshe's logic and even tend to be a little sympathetic to his situation, after all B'nei Yisra'el spurred him on until he could no longer contain his anger and he strikes the rock, and this came on the heels of multiple backslidings and rebellions to boot. Moshe the greatest of prophets, and in his leadership capacity was expected by G-D to have taken responsibility for having organized a disasterous reconnoitering mission, and for losing his temper. G-D expected an admission of guilt in form of repentance, but understandably nevertheless incorrectly Moshe justifies himself by blaming someone else.

Like Yisra'el, including Moshe and Aharon, we tend to not accept responsibility for our mistakes and shortcomings. We don't want to be responsible for our own actions and thus we seek someone or something else out to affix the blame on.
E       We mentioned a test of true Spiritual Maturity earlier, what is the test? The test is this: When one stops blaming one's parents,one's boss,one's teacher,one's Rabbi, one's pastor, one's wife, one's husband, one's siblings, one's environment,one's society, one's president,one's government, etc. for one's transgressions, and shamefacedly blames oneself, with admission of his own guilt.
          Because of the difficulty and our tendency to have reservation concerning such, this kind of confession defines the very essence (fundamental nature or quality) of what repentance looks like. If this is true, then the essence of repentance needs to be a turning or returning of the heart rather than a verbal confession back to ADONAI.


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27

Parashah 10: Mikketz (At the End)
B'resheet 41:1~44:17 30 Kislev 5769/12-27-08

"Wisdom"
 
Read B'resheet 41:1~41, 56~57; 42:1~5 pgs. 45~47

A       With the culminating of last weeks parashah "Vayeshev" and this weeks "Mikketz," we begin to see a significant change in the life of Yosef the "Dreamer." No longer is he declaring his own dreams, but now he has and continues to listen to the dreams of others that G-D puts into his path. In a less than tedious task, with close adherence to details, Yosef places the needs of others before those of his own, and begins an upward ascent to a position of true leadership wherein he takes on a messiah-type chara- cteristic for not only his own people, but a savior as it were of all nations.
 
His own dreams served no longer as symbols of his dominion over others, but now they had become signs of his responsibility and duty towards others. In his appoinment as Governor over the land of Mits- rayim, he would regard himself as a true servant of his father and his brothers, a vessel as it were of G-D's providence, that would save them too.
 
In his own dreams, Yosef's sub~conscious didn't appear to include G-D, but now with the dreams of others we see G-D actively employed in Yosef's mind, which not only begins to bring his own dreams to fulfill- ment, but greater yet, Yosef is opportuned to introduce Pharaoh and Mitsrayim to the One True G-D, the G-D of the Hebrews.
 
After completing the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream, a condition is stated wherein a solution is brought into demand, to which Yosef pro- vides an ample repair proposal formula. Read vs 32~33 pg 46
Pharaoh who is pleased with Yosef's proposal, recognizes asher ruach elohim bo,that the Spirit of G-D is in himand reccomends and appoints Yosef for the task. Read vs 38~41 pg 46
 
One of the outstanding qualities of the man as proposed and as appointed for the task, was the attribute of wisdom. Pharaoh's own words in appointing Yosef as Governor, gives G-D the credit for showing Yosef the interpretations, and conseqently he is imbued with discernment and wisdom as well.
                                
B       The dream of Pharaoh in our parashah today finds its parallel in the dream of Shlomo as recorded in the Haftarah. As was the case with Yosef, who openly ascribes his ability of discerning and wise dream interpret- ation to G-D, so too is Shlomo's wisdom derived from the same Divine Source, via the means of a dream also.
 
Shlomo had succeeded his father David to the throne about 970 B.C.E., when ADONAI G-D appeared to him in a dream and asked him what gifts he desired. Shlomo responds not with a list of material needs, but for an understanding heart which ADONAI G-D granted to him as a wise and understanding heart. His wisdom was widely hailed, and the story of the two mothers and their babies is a prime example of his Divinely inspired 
intuition. (chacham/wise = intelligent; wise of mind /heart; able to judge with discernment)

Today's haftarah begins in M'lakhim Alef Ch. 3:15 and states: "Shlomo awoke and found it had been a dream." Let's take a look at the content of this dream as we find it recorded earlier in Ch. 3 beginning with vs 4. Read verses 4~5 pg. 370
It is at this opportune moment the Shlomo could have asked for anything that he wanted and ADONAI G-D would have provided it for him. He could have asked for silver and gold, or a great name and prestige, but instead, what concerned him the most was his lack of leadership skills. He goes on to request an understanding heart able to administer justice to the people and discernment between good and bad. Read verses 6~9.
 
Scripture goes on to say that Shlomo's request pleased ADONAI and not only is his request accompanied with wisdom honored, but what he didn't ask for is meted out to him as well. A final additional outpouring of ADONAI's blessing to Shlomo becomes conditional, and it has to do with life.     Read verses 10~14  
 
With these requests honored by ADONAI, it's likely to concede that someplace within the confines of Shlomo's heart there existed a desire for riches, honor and long life as they were so explicitely mentioned by ADONAI. The fact is that if this was the case, they were secondary to his desire for a wise and understanding heart. In other words, Shlomo push- ed every one of his personal wants and desires aside only to focus on the most important gift that would allow him to accomplish the task that he was called to do.                                     
With the knowledge that having all the riches in the world would not enable him to rule effectively as Melech Yisra'el, Shlomo realizes that a heart of wisdom and understanding would make the goal attainable.
 
C       One of my favorite scriptures comes from Yesha'yahu 61:10 where it states: "I am so joyful in ADONAI! My soul rejoices in my G-D, for He has clothed me in Salvation, and has enwrapped me with a robe of righteous- ness." In claiming this robe of righteousness, I sometimes get a distorted outward appearance of myself, kinda like the mirrors in a fun house at the carnival. I have to question myself whether I have really sought out the things of ADONAI, those gifts of the Ruach, or have I been pursuant to my own interests and desires, hiding them under this robe in secret?
 
Tehillim 44:21 says that: "G-D knows the secrets of the heart." So let's be honest, do we say things with our mouths that we don't speak from our hearts? Do we discuss with each other how great our prayer lives are and how we desire to have the gifts of ADONAI that will enable us to accomplish the tasks that He sets before us, and then proceed to pray for tangible earthly material wealth that will corrode and eventually be stolen away? Where your wealth is, you'll find your heart.
 
How many of us can honestly say to ourselves that in our prayers and petitions to ADONAI, we have sought out a heart of wisdom and understanding, able to discern between good and evil? If ADONAI was to visit you in a dream at night like He did Shlomo, and say to you: "Tell Me what I should give you," What would your answer be?
                                             
Would your request be self centered, or would you request gifts of en- ablement for the gifting that He has already provided for you, so that you can accomplish the task that He has called you to do for His glory? We all have gifts of the Ruach like Yosef, but do we pray for wisdom so that we can edify by lifting up, exhort, speak, lead, give words of understanding and wisdom, shepherd, teach, heal, help, administer, etc.?
 
It seems that some communities are more concerned with enlarging the tangible building rather than enlarging the Spiritual Body. Without a heart of wisdom, understanding, and discernment given by ADONAI through the Ruach, we will never be successful in accomplishing the tasks that G-D sets before us.                       

D       This is by no means saying that we should not approach Abba Father when we have other needs. Mattityahu 6:8 says that: "....your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." His desire for us is that we will put our complete faith in Him and seek Him in all things. Study- ing Matt 6:33 a few weeks ago, we learned that we are to seek first the Father's Kingdom and His righteousness, and then all these things that we like Shlomo are not to be concerned with, will be given to us.

We cannot attempt to understand matters of the Ruach (Spiritual) with our fleshly pleasures and appetities, nor can we discern matters of the Ruach with our emotions. Understanding and discernment by this approach is sure to bring failure. Many times we seek solutions for the problems, when we should be seeking a wise and understanding heart, whereby ADONAI will provide that knowledge and much more.
 
M'lakhim Alef 3:12 states that there would never be another person like Shlomo, but if we ask from a heart that has its priorities in order, and seek a heart of widom, understanding and discernment as he did, for the purpose of glorifying G-D, ADONAI will be faithful to answer us.
 
E       Ya'akov Ch 1:5~6 in part says: "Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask G-D, Who gives to all generously and without reproach (disappro- val); and it will be given to him. But let him ask in trust (faith) doubting nothing...."
 
Rabbi Shaul's leeter to the Messianic Community at Colosse in Collosians 1:9~10 on pg 1470 states: Read
 
Close with Mishlei (Proverbs 2:1~15 pg 942 Read
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20
Parashah #9 Vayeshev (He Settled)
B'resheet 37:1~40:23 Kislev 23, 5769/12-20-08
All Scripture Texts Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible
 
A       This weeks parashah opens up with the history of Ya'akov, and immediately proceeds with the story of Yosef's life beginning at age 17. Early on in this period of his life, we read that he was indeed a dreamer just as his brothers had characterized him. Right from the onset he shares two of his dreams with his brothers and his father, only to be received with anger and rebuke.
 
After being sold by his brothers in their anger, and finding himself in Mitzrayim, ADONAI is with Yosef and he lands a job working for Potifar a high ranking official in the court of Pharaoh. The prosperity of ADONAI comes to Potifar through Yosef, so he is put in charge of all of Potifar's possessions. Later the seductive antics of Potifar's wife land Yosef in an elite status prison where high ranking servants and officers were assigned when they failed to measure up to Pharaoh's standards. It is here that Yosef ministers to his cell~mates and by spirit revelation he is able to interpret a couple of dreams.
 
Read B'resheet 40:1~23 pg 44
 
B       The dreams of sar ha mashkim the chief butler שקה(shakah the one who gives drink or cupbearer) and sar ha ofim, the chief baker אפה aphah, on the surface seem to be quite similar. Each of these men's dreams con- tain the elements of food, grapes and bread. Each man made provision with his food, the cupbearer provided Pharaoh with the grapes and the baker provided the birds with the baked goods that were destined for Pharaoh. Another similarity is the number three, the cupbearer saw a vine with three branches, budding and blossoming with clusters of grapes, while the baker carried three baskets of baked goods.
 
With such striking similarities, we find Yosef's interpretations of the dreams, quite varied in their assessment. The cupbearer on the one hand would be restored back to his position in Pharaoh's service, but the baker on the other hand, would meet his demise by hanging, and the birds would eat his flesh.
                                                                  
 Mitzrayim was a center of occult practices, vibrant with the myst- ical and magical powers channeled through spirit mediums. It is in this very environment that the cupbearer and baker state that nobody around there could interpret their dreams. It is then, even with his G-D given insight and wisdom, that Yosef declares openly to his two incarcerated friends that G-D is the source of all interpretations, and after having made this statement Yosef is able by revelation of the Ruach HaKodesh, to provide interpretation.                                                                                                        

The source of this type of prophetic interpretation is alluded to in HaBrit Chadashah II Kefa 1:21 where it states:"No prophecy of Scripture is to be interpreted by an individual on his own; for never has a prophecy come as a result of human willing~~on the contrary, people moved by the Ruach HaKodesh spoke a message from G-D."  
 
C       We looked at the three similarities of the two dreams, but a close look into the text exposes an essential difference as well. The cupbearer in a subtle sort of way, gives definition to his dream character as being pro-active with his statement of verse 11. "Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and gave the cup to Pharaoh."In other words, he purports to be a good and faithful servant to his Master the King by his actions.
 
In contrast, the baker's dream character is blatently expressed as one of passiveness, with no actions in the service of his master recorded whatsoever. Verses 16~17 in part state: "....there were three baskets of white bread on my head. In the uppermost basket there were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds ate them out of the basket on my head." The only action expressed, is on behalf of the birds, who ate the food designated for the King.
 
This is not the first time in Scripture that birds have played a sym- bolic role in the wellbeing of peoples lives. An outstanding example of this is found in; B'resheet Ch 15:7~21 Read pg 14

The birds here as found in verse 11, represent HaSatan swooping down to interfere and break up this covenant before its completion, by snatching away the acceptable sacrifice before it is offered. Avram does not enter- tain a passive condition here, but quite the contrary he drives the birds away. Besides the preparation of the offerings, his actions here represent his contribution to the covenant that ADONAI G-D would complete by Himself.
 
In Mattityahu 13:3~4 Yeshua speaking says: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some seed fell alongside the path; and the birds came and ate it up."                           
He continues on in the words of verse 19 stating: "Whoever hears the message about the Kingdom, but doesn't understand it, is like the seed sown along the path~~the Evil One comes and seizes what was sown in his heart.
HaSatan then, represents the unclean scavenging fowl that sweeps down and snatches away the understanding of the beseuras hageulah from people, keeping them in a state of confusion from believing in the things of the Kingdom.
 
Inactivity as in the case of the Baker as well as the life bearing seed the farmer sows along the path that lies inactive, not becoming activated or productive, both tend to give place to the work of the Evil One, HaSatan, who becomes their master and consumes them. Inactivity as well as actions done in wickedness are unworthy of reprieve, and in judgement death becomes the sentence. Courses of action on the other hand, as in the case of Avram and the cupbearer meet with pleasing results in the eyes of the Master, and provide life on a national and a personal level. A person of action along with faith is rewarded by a restored relationship with his Master.
 
D       It seems as though we look at this frequently, but it must be an important point that needs to be driven home. All of us I trust profess to have faith, but what kind of faith do we have? Is your faith a faith of passiveness, wreaking pew warmer qualities, Are your freaky, finely feathered, fowled fraternizing friends eating the bread from your head and the seed from your path? What does your walk of faith look like, are there any actions accomplished through G-D associated with it, or are your actions represented by wickedness and evil?

We read a few weeks ago from Mattityahu Ch 6:33 where it states: "But seek first G-D's Kingdom and His righteousness...." and this implies that seeking first means to seek out in a priority status above everything else in our lives.                                                              

In Ya'akov Ch 2:24 it states: "You see that a person is declared righteous because of actions and not because of faith alone."This in part should show us the importance of having actions that accompany our faith.

Read Ya'akov 2:14~26 pg 1511

As we close down this morning, our thoughts turn towards Chanukkah. The word chanukkah as we probably know means  חנוכה to dedicate or consecrate and it comes from a root that can also mean to train, teach or educate. Our prayer this season needs to be as we dedicate or even re~dedicate ourselves to His service that we ask G-D to teach us about our actions and how in truth we can accomplish them through Him. If we do this, the truth of our actions will bring us to His Light.
 
Read Yochanan Ch 3:19~21 pg 1333
 

          Shabbat Shalom/Chag Sameach

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 Sh'mot (Exodus) Parashah 13 Minimize

Yisra'el's War in the Gaza is not an incursion levied against a people that identify themselves as Palestinians, but rather it is a defensive operative levied against the Spirit of Amalek. Rabbi Sha'ul's words to the Messianic Community in Ephesus explains clearly in Ch. 6:12 stating: "For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm." CJB 

Parashah 13, Sh'mot (Exodus)
Sh'mot 1:1~6:1* 21 Tevet 5769*1/17/09

 A      With the closing of Sefer B'resheet we have in part bid a final fare- well to the great Patriarchs and Matriarchs. While we leave their stories behind as recorded on the Divinely Inspired pages of Scripture, the spirits of these G-D~fearing forebearers will carry on even to this day as their in- fluence and participation in the Covenants that G-D made with them con- tinue to be walked out.

This weeks parashah Sh'mot, brings us into a whole new era of change, with a whole new cast of performers. G-D is going to raise up for Himself a redeemer from this nation of Hebrews housed within a nation of Egyptians, to deliver His people from oppression and slavery leading them to their own Promised Land. Unlike the Covenant of promise that G-D made with the patriarchs concerning future descendants, this G-D appointed redeemer of the Hebrews would begin a present fulfillment of these promises. The Patriarchs knew G-D as a Covenant maker and now He expresses Himself to this new generation as a covenant keeper.                          

Read B'resheet (Genesis) 17:1~6 pg 15; 28:1~4 pg 29; 35:9~12 pg 38; 48:1~4 pg  55                     

When Ya'akov's (Yisra'el's) family settled in Mitzrayim, they were but a small nation of seventy descendants. However, after the demise of this generation, the nation grows. Up until this weeks parashah, we read that all of G-D's promises concerning the phenomenal multiplying of the Hebrew people were in a future tense. However in today's parashah, Pharaoh perceives this Hebrew Nation, rapidly growing in numbers in his midst as a present threat, and declares war against them on the "battle- field of their fruitfulness."                    

Read Sh'mot (Exodus) Ch 1:5~14 pg 60

 B   So one of the terms of G-D's covenant with the patriarchs has now become manifest in the fruitfulness of the Hebrew people, and to counter the effects of this covenant in that it might come to fruition, there arises a new Pharaoh in Egypt that refuses to recognize that the great accomplish- ments that Yosef had procured for the land were any longer valid. 

The lean years of famine had passed now and the state of economics were such that the business of agriculture and livestock had been restored to the land, so to continue operating under the rules of a Hebrew, a people who had now become a threat to his power, was no longer acceptable.
                                                                                                                           
                                 
I don't think that this was just some kind of a jealous power struggle that this new King was experiencing, because he could have presented some terms and conditions to the Hebrews in an effort to make them allies with him, thus becoming a greater and stronger nation, but he didn't. What he proposes to the Hebrews was physical oppression in form fueled by a spirit of hatred with the hopes of interfering with G-D's covenant and annihilating the Hebrew people.
By killing all of the male Hebrew babies there would be an ethical cleansing of sort, with the hopes that the women would assimilate into Egyptian culture and any further threat of this race would be eliminated. I refer to this spirit as the Spirit of Amalek 

Read Sh'mot (Exodus 1:15~22                                                         

C  
The Meaning of the name Amalek: The term may be divided into amal - to toil, and the letter kuf, with the meaning 'ejection of the life-spirit' e.g. katal - to kill with removal of life-spirit. So Amalek means 'becoming dispirited (losing the spirit to live) as a result of hard labour and continuous toil'. Amalek represents intellectual doubt, the kind that erodes one's sense of belief that G-D has total authority and is running the world. The Hebrew word Amalek (in gematria) has the numeric value of 240, which is equal to the Hebrew word safek, which means doubt. 

Amalekites were a tribe or consolidated tribes that were located in the area of the Sinai penninsula. They were in existence already in the time of Avraham (B'resh 14:7) and were referred to in Bil'am's prophecy as; "First among nations" (B'mid 24:20) or in other words, "the leading force of evil." The Amalekites are never mentioned as having been on friendly conditions with Yisra'el, but instead the references to them are always in terms of warfare. Just as Yisra'el was called as a leading force of good, Amalek is considered to be the leading force of evil. As a result, the struggle becomes the eternal struggle of good versus evil in this world.The first attack of Amalek against Yisra'el takes place following the Reed Sea miracle.       

 Read Sh'mot (Exodus) 17:8~16 pg 79 

As we mentioned earlier, The Spirit of Amalek has one chief goal and objective, and that is to make G-D out to be a liar by interfering with His covenants to His people in an effort to invalidate them. So now, as we read, ADONAI Himself will take on Amalek generation after generation and will eventually completely blot out this name from under heaven. In Sh'mu'el Alef Ch 15 King Sha'ul is ordered by ADONAI to attack the Amalekites and completely destry them. He attacks and spares the Amalekite King Agag. Because of this disobedience, Sha'ul loses the King- ship. In Ch 27 King David attacks the Amalekites and crushes them. About 300 yrs later, in Divrei Hayamim Alef (I Chron. 4) King Hizkiyahu (Hezekiah) destroys a remant of the Amalekites once again in battle.

 Seemingly disappearing from the pages of history as a nation, the spirit of Amalek resurfaces about 200 yrs later in the account of Esther through an actual descendant of Agag (King of Amalek) with the name of Haman. Once again this spirit attempted to destroy the Hebrew people in an effort to interfere with the covenant of G-D and render it invalid. Quiet or at least subtle for almost 300 yrs, finds the spirit of Amalek rising up again to interfere with G-D's covenant concerning His people and invalidate it. It expresses itself through the Syrian Greek ruler Antiochus IV who tries to force the Hebrew people into an assimilation of hellenism, forsaking the Laws of ADONAI G-D. Because it is a spiritual bat- tle the words of the prophet echo the victory as: "It's not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says ADONAI Tzva'ot."

 Because Amalek is a spirit, it does not tire easily. Another 170 yrs pass and another covenant of promise that G-D had made with his people through the prophets starts to unfold in its fulfillment, only to be menaced once again by the invalidating spirit of Amalek. This too, speaks of One who is appointed and called by G-D out of Egypt like Moshe to redeem His people. Read Mattityahu (Matthew) 2:1~16 pg 1224

 

D  In 70 CE, Rome destroys the Temple over 1 million Jews are killed

135 CE Hadrian kills 500,000 Jews banning them from Yisra'el and renaming the Land Palestine.

527-1012 CE Medieval period, forced conversions or death and expulsion

1073~1492 Middle Ages period of the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition

1516~1719 CE Reformation period Luther's anti~semitic book "Against the Jews and their lies", First ghettos established, literally thousands killed in Poland and Ukraine, blood libel charges come out in France

1768~1877 CE Enlightenment period Nicholas I called the Russian Haman considers the Jews to be parasites on society seeks to destroy them, Anti~semitism rises in the United States during the Civil War

1878~1945 Modern era Pogroms in Europe, "Protocal of the Elders of Zion" written against the Jews because of Russia's structural problems, Henry Ford publishes the same work in America under the title: "The International Jew" WW I, WW II, and....The Holocaust

1948 G-D says to Amalek; "Enough for Now" and Yisra'el becomes a State again

1950~present Post modern era brings the spirit of Amalek through a consolidated organization of Arab countries vowing to "Push Yisra'el into the Sea," and to "Wipe her from off of the face of the Map." And most current is the spirit of Amalek making the same threats to eradicate the Jewish people and the Jewish Nation through the guise of a terrorist cell that is so aptly named: Chamas which means destruction or to destroy.

 Revelation Ch 12 shows us four distinct areas of attack that Ha- Satan will pursue. A study in and of itself, let's look at the highlites. Turn to Revelation 12 pg 1543 The first area of attack is against the very person of Messiah Read vs 1~6 

The 2nd area of attack is against the power and authority of Messiah because the war moves from the earth up to the throne of heaven, but Mikha'el our Messiah's General archangel whose area of responsibility is the Jewish people, blocks the attack. Read vs 7~9

 The third area of attack is against the people who have given their lives to Messiah as martyrs for the sake of the Beseuras HaGeulah. But they too defeat HaSatan, because of the blood of the Lamb. And when the Adversary is hurled out of heaven, he once again becomes pursuant to the destruction of the Jewish people on earth. Read vs 10~16

 The final attack comes against against the believers, the natural branch believers and those grafted in who proclaim and bear witness to Yeshua. Read vs 17

If HaSatan can destroy the Jewish people before they can repent and trust in Messiah as a Nation, Messiah will not return, and the Adversary will be free to continue to prowl like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. We are the "rest of her children, and I believe that we have work to do. The greatest act of Amalek anti~semitism is not sharing the Beseuras HaGeulah with our Jewish brothers and sisters.

G-D is involved always with the fate of His people, their victories are His and their enemies are His as well. As you may have perceived, the spirit of Amalek is none other than the great dragon HaSatan deceiver of the world and manifest in and through the lives of those that share a common desire to make G-D out to be a liar. Ephesians 6:12 explains: "We are not struggling against human beings....but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm." E  The Book of Revelation explains to us with two important reasons why HaSatan has been trying to destroy the Jewish people since the Book of B'resheet. The first reason is to; undermine and make invalid G-D promises to His people as we've stated previously. The second reason is to stop the return or Second Coming of Messiah Yeshua, which among other things ushers in the eventual demise of the Adversary. 

Gut Shabbes! Rav Chovel

    
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