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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 2013

30
Yitro Exodus 18:1-20:23
Haftarah Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6

Both the Torah portion and Haftarah for this week contain instances when mere mortals see manifestations of the Holy One of Yisrael, and the experience leaves them terrified. Yet, like a moth drawn to a flame, this is the very thing our hearts long for, or is it? What happens when we truly see the Holy One, blessed be He, for Who He really is? Shemot 19-20 and Isaiah 6:1-8 reveal two distinct reactions when encountering manifestations of HaShem. Yisrael, for the most part, withdraws, telling Moshe to draw near and report what HaShem says. They would hear and obey Moshe, but to be in the Presence of G-d is too frightening. Isaiah, though fearful as well, does not withdraw, but throws himself on the mercy of HaShem, facing his iniquity and uncleanness.
HaShem, too has different responses to Yisrael and Isaiah. Being the Gentleman He is, HaShem respects Yisrael’s request and speaks through Moshe, letting the people remain at a distance. On the other hand, when Isaiah cries out because of his uncleanness, HaShem cleanses him and commissions him to be a prophet to Yisrael. Comparing these two incidents confronts us with some pressing questions. We as believers often express the longing to be in G-d’s Presence and to see His Glory. This is certainly an appropriate desire borne of love and worship, but do we realize what we are seeking? Are we willing, like Isaiah, to be confronted with our own sinfulness and uncleanness? Are we willing to let HaShem draw near and cleanse us with the fire of His Word, or will we be like our forefathers, settling for distance while others draw near and hear what He has to say? The choice is ours to make. Each has its price to pay, but in spiritual terms as with the physical, we will indeed get what we pay for. As it is written: "Whoever finds his own life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39) Like Isaiah, let us die to self and live to G-d.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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24

Beshalach Exodus 13:17-17:16
Haftarah Judges 4:1-5:31

This week’s Torah and Haftarah portions contain two commonalities. They both contain songs, and they both depict Yisrael’s victory over her oppressors. However, the Haftarah presents a victory won through seeming treachery. Judges 4:17 records how Sisera, captain of the armies of Yavin, Yisrael’s oppressor, sees his eminent defeat and runs to the tent of Ya’el, wife of Hever. It further explains that there is peace between Hever’s family and Yisrael’s enemy. When Scripture says there is peace (shalom) between two parties, it isn’t solely a matter of the absence of conflict. Rather, it means there is a binding covenant between these parties, and they are sworn to protect each other and come to each other’s aid. In light of this, verses 18-21 should cause us some alarm. Why does Ya’el take matters into her own hands and strike such a blow that her husband’s supposed ally and covenant partner is utterly defeated and destroyed? Theories abound as to why Ya’el kills Sisera. Some posit that Sisera had raped her, and this act of violence absolved her of keeping any covenant. Thus, her dispatching Sisera would have been an act of justice, not treachery. (For further discussion of this, see
http://unsettledchristianity.com/2010/12/judges-4-17-22-the-rape-of-sisera/.)

Some Jewish commentators suggest that Ya’el’s actions are those of any patriotic Yisraelite in the midst of war, but that these normally masculine actions being taken by a woman show her extraordinary strength of character and courage.
(See
http://www.torah.org/learning/women/class54.html for further explanation of this.) Each theory has its valid points, and each has serious flaws. Though we may never know exactly why Ya’el takes such drastic measures, we do know she is considered a heroine in G-d’s economy. Furthermore, we can learn a very valuable lesson. We may speculate on reasons for Hever’s alliance with Yisrael’s ungodly enemies in the first place. Perhaps he was hedging his bets, figuring he would be on the side of whoever won. Ya’el, however, exhibits uncommon courage, making a decision and living with its consequences. By siding with Yisrael, she puts everything on the line, including her own life. She expects no recognition or reward for her actions, but the One Who sees all graces her name with praise and renown in His very Word. Like Ya’el, we, too, are called to make very difficult decisions and live with their consequences. Will we follow our L-rd Yeshua even though it may cost us relationships, jobs, comforts in life, or our very reputations? Our L-rd Yeshua is looking for committed talmidim, not those who hedge their bets, siding with whomever or whatever will suit their own agendas. As it is written: "Yet another said, "I will follow you, sir, but first let me say good-by to the people at home." To him Yeshua said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and keeps looking back is fit to serve in the Kingdom of G-d."" (Luke 9:61-62) Like Ya’el, let us choose, once and for all, whom we will serve and where we will stand.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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16

Bo Exodus 10:1-13:16
Haftarah Jeremiah 46:13-28

This week’s Haftarah further elaborates on Egypt’s punishment at the hand of the Babylonians. It also depicts the disloyalty of Egypt’s mercenaries as they forsake the country that hired them and flee to their own homelands (Jeremiah 46:16, 21). The Haftarah concludes with HaShem’s promise that, though He would discipline His people, He would not treat them as other nations, but would preserve them. Jeremiah 46:27-28 says: ""Yet don't be afraid, Ya'akov my servant; don't be distressed, Isra'el. For I will save you from faraway places, and your offspring from the lands where they are held captive. Ya'akov will return and be at peace, quiet, with no one to make him afraid. Don't be afraid, Ya'akov my servant," says [ADONAI], "for I am with you. I will finish off all the nations where I have scattered you. However, you I will not finish off, I will discipline you as you deserve, but not completely destroy you."" The threefold command not to fear is expressed in two different ways in Hebrew. The first word used in verse 27 for "fear" comes from the root "yare’," which is fear either of an emotional nature or a sense of awe. The second word, "chatat" carries the sense of being dismayed or more literally, shattered. The more something is repeated in Hebrew, the closer attention we should give. In this day and age, it is very easy to fear what we see around us. It is all too easy to look at beleaguered Yisrael and tremble at the thought of her enemies’ wishing her destruction. However, as HaShem commanded Yisrael not to be afraid or dismayed, He gives us the same command. Though He may make an end of all those nations, He will preserve Yisrael. Since we as believers are joined to Yisrael, we need not fear either. Though G-d may bring the nations in which we live to an end, He will safeguard and preserve us. Economies may falter, governments may turn to tyranny, but our G-d is the only true Sovereign.
We are first and foremost citizens of heaven, and we are inexorably linked to Yisrael through her Messiah, Yeshua. As it is written: "You will hear the noise of wars nearby and the news of wars far off; see to it that you don't become frightened. Such things must happen, but the end is yet to come." (Matthew 24:6) "When these things start to happen, stand up and hold your heads high; because you are about to be liberated!" (Luke 21:28) He Who holds our future is faithful.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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08
Va’era Exodus 6:2-9:35
Haftarah Ezekiel 28:25-29:21

This Haftarah goes into great detail, describing how Egypt would be judged for how it has treated Yisrael. It sounds eerily like today’s news headlines, and for good reason. (See, for instance, Ezekiel 29:6-7.) Some of these prophecies concerning Egypt have taken place, such as its being conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Ezekiel 29:17-21). However, according to some scholars, some of these prophecies haven’t yet been fulfilled (29:8-16).
(See discussion of this at
http://prophecynewsstand.blogspot.com/2011/03/end-times-egypt.html.)

Though eschatology is important to study, this Haftarah presents us with an even more important reason for study, which is to learn discernment. The pattern in this week’s Haftarah passage, and indeed, in any given prophetic writing, is that long-term prophecies will be validated by short-term prophecies coming to pass. This is so that people listening to an individual who claims to be a prophet can judge whether that claim is true or false. If his/her short-term predictions come to pass, it is safe to say that the long-term ones will be fulfilled as well. For instance, Ezekiel begins with prophesying about Egypt things that wouldn’t happen in the lifetime of his hearers (29:1-15), but he is then given a Word from the L-RD that would come to pass very soon after it was spoken. Thus, Ezekiel’s audience would be assured beyond any doubt that he is indeed a true prophet, sent by HaShem to speak His Words. History is glutted with those claiming to be prophets, and our day is certainly no exception. Whether watching certain television channels, surfing the web with its millions of teachings, or strolling down the aisles of bookstores, it is all too easy to find those predicting everything under the sun, from the doomsday scenarios of supposed "climate change" to those predicting Messiah will come next Thursday at 10:00 in the morning.
Thankfully, we don’t have to be left in doubt as to whether someone’s word is from HaShem or not. All we have to do is (1) ask whether it lines up with Scripture, and (2) ask whether any short-term predictions from the supposed prophet have come to pass. If the answer is in the affirmative to both criteria, then we may take a second look and consider. However, if the answer is in the negative to even one of these criteria, that person is disqualified from being a prophet. HaShem remembers that we are only sheep, and He graciously makes things very simple for us. If we will only keep our feet firmly planted on the solid rock of His Word, we won’t be tossed to and fro with every theologically trendy teaching or prediction that comes along. As it is written: "Don't quench the Spirit, don't despise inspired messages. But do test everything- hold onto what is good, but keep away from every form of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22) Let us safeguard our souls by discerning between what is false and what is true.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah
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02
Shemot Exodus 1:1-6:1
Haftarah Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23

This Haftarah reflects a decision made long ago concerning how a concluding passage should end. It has long been tradition that a Haftarah should never end in a negative tone. This is why this week’s Haftarah doesn’t end with Isaiah 28:13, but includes 29:22-23, concluding the passage with words of hope. That being said, this Haftarah teaches us that the path to experiencing the hope and comfort we long for is often through the Refiner’s fire. Isaiah 27:6-13 proclaims that Yisrael will be fruitful and will be regathered (27:6-7, 12-13). In the midst of this, however (27:8-11), is the unpleasant reality that the people of Yisrael must go through the process of refinement to purge them from the impurities of sin as depicted in 28:1-13. Thankfully, this concludes with the reassurance that Yisrael’s shame will be removed when HaShem brings the redemption of His people to complete fruition. This pattern of refining and redemption offers us as believers hope today. Many times, we suffer the consequences of past sins and poor decisions, even though we have repented and given ourselves totally over to Messiah Yeshua. This can be disheartening, because hasatan will use our being refined as an opportunity to accuse us and try to convince us that we really haven’t been forgiven. After all, if we have been truly forgiven, would we still have to suffer these often excruciatingly painful and sorrowful consequences? However, just as silver and gold are subjected to fire to cleanse impurities, so HaShem sometimes uses the consequences of past sin to cleanse us of the very impurities that got us into trouble in the first place. During these times, it is crucial to keep in mind that He does not wish to crush us beyond recovery. His goal is to deal with our impurities and remove, once and forever, the shame and guilt we have been carrying around for so long. If we leave that guilt and shame at the feet of our Messiah where it belongs, we will learn that being refined is from the loving Hand of our Abba. We will experience this not just for the sake of coming to a place of restoration, but so that we might have a new beginning in Him.
As it is written:  "Meanwhile, through trusting, you are being protected by G-d's power for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time. Rejoice in this, even though for a little while you may have to experience grief in various trials. Even gold is tested for genuineness by fire. The purpose of these trials is so that your trust's genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of Yeshua the Messiah." (1 Peter 1:5-7) Let us never give up hope in Him Who is the Hope of Yisrael (Jeremiah 17:12-14)

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah
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02
Vayechi Genesis 47:28-50:26
Haftarah 1 Kings 2:1-12

In this week’s Torah portion, both Ya’akov and Yosef pass from this life, leaving instructions for their progeny as to what will befall them and where they are to bury the deceased patriarchs. The accompanying Haftarah presents king David as dying as well, and he, too, gives his final instructions to Shlomo, his son. Some aspects of David’s last words are disturbing in that they seem to suggest taking vengeance, but they present us with a principle we have lost sight of in our Western cultures. In 1 Kings 2:5-9, king David advises Shlomo concerning who he should show kindness to (verse 7) and on whom he should exact justice (verses 5-6, 8-9). At first blush, David’s command to execute both Yo’av and Shim’i seems unjust, but it makes more sense when we consider that these actions would establish Shlomo’s throne and kingdom. To further elaborate, since Yo’av and Shim’i would not honor king David (see 2 Samuel 3:26-30; and 16:5-13), they surely would not honor his son. We are not used to thinking of the concept of individual honor, let alone family honor, but Scripture presents honor as pivotal in true trust and fellowship. If one does not honor the father of a family, for instance, neither does he/she honor the children, and vice versa. If this seems familiar, it should be, as our L-RD Yeshua appeals to this reasoning concerning honor. (See passages cited below.) In Jewish circles, honor is given to the Father, but not to the Son. In Christian circles, the opposite is true: Honor is given to the Son, but not to the Father. One only needs to ask the traditional churchgoer Who they would want to stand before on the Day of Judgment to see this. Scripture is very clear in stating that if we honor the Father, we will honor the Son, and if we really honor the Son, we will honor the Father (Luke 10:16; John 8:49-50; 1 John 5:1). This is a package deal. Interestingly, this concept has direct bearing on how we relate to each other in the Body of Messiah. Scripture also teaches that if we truly love and honor G-d, we will love and honor each other. It is easy to honor Him Who is perfection itself, but it is sometimes very difficult to honor each other, especially in those times when we are not so honorable. However, since we are the children of G-d, we are all part of the same family. Let us treat each other with honor and love, letting the world know we are Messiah Yeshua’s talmidim (John 13:35). As it is written: "Love each other devotedly and with brotherly love; and set examples for each other in showing respect." (Romans 12:10) If we truly honor HaShem, we will inevitably honor those bearing His image.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah
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