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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise specified are taken from The Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright ©1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD  21029.
www.messianicjewish.net.
If you haven't yet done so, now is the time to get your copy of "As It Is Written: Ancient Torah Lessons for the Modern-day Believer." If you have a copy, get some copies for your friends and loved ones. Whether you've been studying Torah for years or are just beginning, you're sure to find pearls of wisdom and insight in this book. To get your copy, please click here: http://bnottziyon.com/christina_oakes

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement.
Most sincerely in our Messiah Yeshua,
Christina Oakes/Hadassah

 Please note, for the 5775/2015 Year, Hadassah is considering the idea of writing another book. While we will miss her missives, we invite you to visit the archives of her past works. In these archives you will find selections on the parshiyot, haftarah and Tehillim (Psalms) according to the annual cycle of Torah readings, going back a few years. Todah!

    
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Entries for January 2012

23

Parashah #15 Bo: "Come"
Exodus 10:1-13:16

In this week's Torah portion, Yisrael's deliverance from slavery in Egypt finally comes to fruition, and this event is commemorated in the Feast of Pesach (Passover) from generation to generation. Four passages in this portion remind us that HaShem doesn't redeem us for our own sakes only, but also so that we will proclaim His Name and His deeds to our children and grandchildren. Consider the following passages: "ADONAI said to Moshe, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have made him and his servants hardhearted, so that I can demonstrate these signs of mine among them, so that you can tell your son and grandson about what I did to Egypt and about my signs that I demonstrated among them, and so that you will all know that I am ADONAI." (Exodus 10:1-2) "When your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this ceremony?' say, 'It is the sacrifice of ADONAI's Pesach, (Passover) because (ADONAI) passed over the houses of the people of Isra'el in Egypt, when he killed the Egyptians but spared our houses.'" The people of Isra'el bowed their heads and worshipped." (Exodus 12:26-27)
"Matzah is to be eaten throughout the seven days; neither hametz nor leavening agents are to be seen with you throughout your territory. On that day you are to tell your son, 'It is because of what ADONAI did for me when I left Egypt.'" (Exodus 13:7-8) "When, at some future time, your son asks you, 'What is this?' then say to him, 'With a strong hand ADONAI brought us out of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery. When Pharaoh was unwilling to let us go, ADONAI killed all the firstborn males in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of humans and the firstborn of animals. This is why I sacrifice to ADONAI any male that is first from the womb of an animal, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.'" (Exodus 13:14-15) Though these passages may seem slightly unrelated, as two deal with keeping Passover, one deals with declaring HaShem's works to the next generation, and one deals with pidyon HaBen (redemption of the firstborn), they show us what we need to do in order to make sure our faith lives on in our children and grandchildren.
Two passages, Shemot 10:2 and Shemot 13:7-8 give us instructions to tell our children what HaShem has done for us and how we commemorate His deeds. These passages imply that we should tell our children and grandchildren these things whether they ask or not. Conversely, Shemot 12:26-27 and Shemot 13:14-15 tell us that our children will ask us questions and we must always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). Together, these Scriptures imply a principle we sometimes forget in the busyness of life, but it is crucial to remember and act upon if our faith is to endure beyond our generation. Our L-rd Yeshua commands us to make talmidim (disciples) of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). In our zealousness to obey this command, we often look outside our own families for people to disciple, not realizing that our most important disciples to raise up for HaMashiach are our little ones in our families and congregations. As the passages state above, there are things we must impart to our children and grandchildren whether they ask us about them or not. We must also encourage them to ask us questions so that this treasure we carry called faith can be passed onto them and it will become their own. We are also taught through this week's Torah portion that our children and grandchildren won't learn about HaShem by osmosis. We must actively teach them in all things, at all times. This is hard work, but it is our calling and HaShem will give us the grace and wisdom we need to accomplish this 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week task. As it is written: "He raised up a testimony in Ya‘akov and established a Torah in Isra'el. He commanded our ancestors to make this known to their children, so that the next generation would know it, the children not yet born, who would themselves arise and tell their own children, who could then put their confidence in G-d, not forgetting G-d's deeds, but obeying his mitzvot." (Psalms 78:5-7) Let us make raising up talmidim our number one priority.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

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16

Parashah #14 Va'era: "And I Appeared"
Exodus 6:2-9:35

This week's Torah portion opens with the revelation of two divine Names. Unfortunately, we tend to gloss over these Names, or we sometimes bandy them about for emotive purposes. However, if we take the time to understand why these Names are used when they are, we will discover a fuller picture of G-d's character and how He reveals Himself to those who seek Him with all their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). Shemot 6:2-3 declares: "God spoke to Moshe; he said to him, "I am ADONAI. I appeared to Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov as El Shaddai, although I did not make myself known to them by my name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh. (ADONAI)" At first glance, this passage may seem confusing. After all, the Name of G-d eluded to has been used in Scripture since B'reishit 1:1. In his course "The Sacred Name: Escaping the Maze of Misinformation" (http://www.torahresource.com/), Dr. Tim Hegg makes the astute observation that the patriarchs did not experience Him as Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh, Fulfiller of His covenant, but as El Shaddai, Maker of covenant and Giver of children. (Compare, for instance, B'reishit 17:1-2.) This is important to grasp for two reasons. Some Jewish people who don't yet acknowledge our l-rd Yeshua as the Mashiach object by saying that if Mashiach's name was Yeshua, wouldn't it appear in the Tanach? In truth, it does in the feminine form "Yeshua," which means "salvation" as does the masculine form. More importantly, though, perhaps Mashiach's name isn't obviously stated because the fullness of the work of salvation hadn't yet been revealed. Even as the Name El Shaddai denotes the making of covenant and giving of children, and Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh denotes keeping covenant, so the Name Yeshua denotes the beginnings of fulfilling the "new covenant" as found in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Another reason why it is crucial to know the Names of G-d and what nuances they carry is because HaShem isn't interested in what we know about Him in our heads. He is interested in how we experience Him and what we do with that experience. He is looking for a people who are completely and utterly devoted to Him and faithful in keeping His covenant. He is seeking those who will take the time to study, draw near to Him, and tremble at His Word. As it is written: "But you are a chosen people, the King's cohanim, a holy nation, a people for G-d to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9, emphasis mine) Let us seek to experience His Heart, not just His Hand.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

 

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09

Parashah #13 Shemot: "Names"
Exodus 1:1-6:1

This week's Torah portion opens with Yisrael's entrance into Egypt and ensuing struggle for survival under the hand of tyranny. Pharaoh issues a horrifying decree that threatens Yisrael's very existence. Yet in the midst of such oppressing darkness, light shines in the form of two humble midwives. Shemot 1:15-21 records the bravery of Shiphrah and Puah. The names of these ladies derive from root words denoting sources of light. "Shiphrah" comes from the word "shaphar," meaning "to be pleasing, be beautiful, be fair, be comely, be bright, glisten." "Puah" comes from the root meaning "to glitter." As their names reflect light, so do their actions. Pharaoh decrees that these midwives must kill every Hebrew baby boy, but every girl could live. They refuse to obey the king, putting their own lives in danger. However, verses 20-21 of Shemot 1 say: "Therefore G-d prospered the midwives, and the people continued to multiply and grow very powerful. Indeed, because the midwives feared G-d, he made them founders of families." Not only does HaShem preserve these ladies from the wrath of Pharaoh, but He also makes them forbearers of entire families. Scripture specifically tells us that G-d confers such great honor on Shiphrah and Puah because they fear Him. Thus, they shed light on what it means to fear G-d. As the two Hebrew midwives exemplify, fearing G-d is not in feelings or in words, but in actions. Fearing G-d is obeying Him, even when it means paying a high price for doing so. It means pledging ourselves and all that we have to HaShem, no matter what life brings. Most of us in the United States have been blessed in that we have not had to choose between our allegiance to HaShem or our lives. However, history is replete with examples of those who had to make such a decision, and our brothers and sisters in Mashiach Yeshua around the world are daily faced with this life and death choice. Furthermore, there is no guarantee we as believers in the U.S.A. won't have to face this dilemma. Though following our L-rd isn't a matter of life and death presently, there are other choices we must make. Will we seek to walk in HaShem's ways and keep His commandments, even when it isn't convenient, or will we only do what is convenient for us? This question applies to every area of life. If we choose to fear G-d and obey Him while we have the freedom to do so, the decision to fear and obey Him will have already been made should our faith be put to the ultimate test. As it is written: ""My friends, I tell you: don't fear those who kill the body but then have nothing more they can do. I will show you whom to fear: fear him who after killing you has authority to throw you into Gei-Hinnom! Yes, I tell you, this is the one to fear! Aren't sparrows sold for next to nothing, five for two assarions? And not one of them has been forgotten by God. Why, every hair on your head has been counted! Don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows." (Luke 12:4-7) "ADONAI takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who wait for his grace." (Psalms 147:11)

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

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03

Parashah #12 Vayechi: "And He Lived"
Genesis 47:28-50:26

This week's Torah portion begins by drawing our attention to Yosef's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Ya'akov, their grandfather, bestows an honor on these two young men that isn't normally given to grandchildren. However, it doesn't take much study to learn that everything means something, and Manasseh and Ephraim have a lesson to share with us concerning our own identity.
B'reishit 48:3-5 says: "Ya‘akov said to Yosef, "El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Kena‘an and blessed me, saying to me, ‘I will make you fruitful and numerous. I will make of you a group of peoples; and I will give this land to your descendants to possess forever.' Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Efrayim and M'nasheh [Manasseh] will be as much mine as Re'uven and Shim‘on are." With these words, Ya'akov adopts Yosef's two sons into the ranks of the patriarchs of Yisrael, making them joint heirs. Even though Manasseh and Ephraim are part Egyptian on their mother's side, they are thoroughly Ysraelite. They and their descendants assimilate into Yisrael, becoming an integral part of the burgeoning nation. What can we as modern-day believers learn from this?
The two sons of Yosef are a fulfillment of a part of the Avrahamic covenant that is all too often overlooked. B'reishit 12:1-3 says: "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (AV, emphasis mine) These young men, born of an Egyptian mother, are brought into the family of G-d, not as second-class citizens, but as patriarchs as mentioned above. As it is with Ephraim and Manasseh, so it is with us.Sometimes in Messianic Jewish circles, those of us who are non-Jewish are eager to find out if we have some kind of Jewish ancestry in our past. This is laudable to a degree, but this desire springs from a feeling of inferiority born of bad teaching. However, we who are non-Jewish are just as chosen in the Mashiach as Jewish believers. (See commentary on Parasha 41, Pinchas.) On the other hand, others of us who are not Jewish wonder why we should bother with anything Jewish in the first place. This comes from a feeling of superiority, not recognizing that we who are not Jewish owe a great debt to the Jewish people. Rav Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) highlights this when he says: "But now I am going to Yerushalayim with aid for G-d's people there. For Macedonia and Achaia thought it would be good to make some contribution to the poor among G-d's people in Yerushalayim. They were pleased to do it, but the fact is that they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared with the Jews in spiritual matters, then the Gentiles clearly have a duty to help the Jews in material matters." (Romans 15:25-27) Instead of clinging to their earthly heritage through their mother, Manasseh and Ephraim embrace G-d's culture and heritage, and we are called to do the same. Furthermore, since our L-rd Yeshua is Jewish, and we seek to be His talmidim, emulating Him as much as possible, it shouldn't surprise us that we will look Jewish in many respects. Personally, I see this as a high honor and privilege. It is testimony that we have truly been called out from the world and our life is hidden in the Mashiach (Colossians 3:3). As it is written: "So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow-citizens with G-d's people and members of G-d's family. You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua the Messiah himself. In union with him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple in union with the L-rd." (Ephesians 2:19-21) Like Manasseh and Ephraim, let us cast in our lot with the Jewish people. The cost will be high, but this is our destiny.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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