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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.
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 October 2011

Parashah #3 Genesis 12:1-17:16
This portion is full of life-changing experiences for Avram. Beginning with HaShem's calling him to leave everything familiar for the land of Canaan, and ending with his name being changed from Avram (exalted father) to Avraham (father of many), it encapsulates twenty-four years of the spiritual journey of our father in the faith. Avram teaches us many lessons by example, and one lesson with which our Torah portion opens is what to do if we find ourselves going astray.
B'reishit 12:10-20 records Avram's decision to sojourn in Egypt because of a great famine in the land of Canaan. On the way there, he asks Sarai, his wife, to tell the Egyptians she is his sister so that he will not be killed. We are familiar with what ensues: Sarai is taken into Pharaoh's house and Avram is given special hospitality for her sake. HaShem plagues Pharaoh's household and the truth comes out that Sarai is a married woman. To cut his own losses, Pharaoh gives Avram back his wife and sends him away a very rich man. We might be tempted to say all's well that ends well, but Avram's actions once he returns to the land of Canaan tell us a different story.
Breishit 13:1-4 says: "Avram went up from Egypt-- he, his wife and everything he had, and Lot with him-- into the Negev. Avram became wealthy, with much cattle, silver and gold. As he went on his travels from the Negev, he came to Beit-El, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beit-El and ‘Ai, where he had first built the altar; and there Avram called on the name of ADONAI." It is significant that, after leaving Egypt, Avram returns to the last place where he had built an altar an called on the Name of HaShem. (See also B'reishit 12:8.) Agricultural circumstances play a big role in dictating where Avram travels, but notice that this passage doesn't draw our attention to Avram's cattle. It mentions them, but it specifically says that Avram returns to the place where the altar is, and he calls upon the Name of HaShem. Thus Avram teaches us that when we go astray from G-d's best, we find our way back to Him by returning to the last place of experiencing His Presence. Like Avram, we sometimes find ourselves in a spiritual famine. Thinking things are more fruitful and abundant elsewhere, we leave the place where we have received G-d's promises for us, and we journey toward the proverbial Egypt. While there, circumstances may not turn disastrous, and we may even prosper materially, but as Avram almost lost his wife, we may lose our First Love. The only way to rectify this situation is to return to that place where we know we are in HaShem's will, even if it means going back into the land where the famine is. If we do, we will find a restoration and relief far deeper than Egypt could ever give. If we don't, the consequences we suffer will be far worse than we can imagine. As it is written: "But I have this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Therefore, remember where you were before you fell, turn from this sin, and do what you used to do before. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your menorah from its place-if you don't turn from your sin!" (Revelation 2:4-5) Let us return to our First Love, Mashiach Yeshua, and call upon the Name of HaShem.

Shalom uvracha,
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Parashah #2 Genesis 6:9-11:32
Noach is a daunting Torah portion to study. It contains two instances where human civilization crumbles and two genealogies. However, if we take the time to study this passage, especially the genealogies, not only will we understand other passages in Scripture where these names and places are elaborated upon, but we will have a better understanding of the parts these nations are playing in current events today. B'reishit 10:1-32 delineates the families from which every nation on the face of the earth today originates. These names aren't so familiar to us because the Ruach HaKodesh often uses ancestral names for nations. To give a couple of examples that are pertinent to today's headlines, Yavan is Greece, Togarma encompasses Parts of Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turkestan, and Armenia, and Put is modern-day Libya and some parts of Egypt and northern Africa. (For a more comprehensive chart of ancient place names and their counterparts, go to
www.wogim.org. See also Walid Shoebat's presentation "End Times Alert 2010" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnmk-Qrk_Cw&feature=related.) It is true that scholars are in disagreement as to the identification of some of these groups (i.e. Gomer could either be Germany or the Ukraine). However, there is a vast amount of information we can rely upon to know who's who in Scripture. In fact, B'reishit 10:5 assumes that we know these ancestral names. If we study these nations and what Scripture says about them, the subjects of prophecy and this evening's news headlines won't seem so mysterious or take us by surprise. I must confess that whenever I come across a genealogical passage in Scripture, I am tempted to skip over it. However, since HaShem puts so much importance on these genealogies that He preserves them in His Word, I should put the same importance on them. As stated in previous missives, if we find ourselves in a seemingly particularly dry Scripture passage, we will most assuredly find hidden treasure if only we take the time to dig for it. As it is written: "All Scripture is G-d-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to G-d may be fully equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17, emphasis mine) Let us study to show ourselves approved, so that as prophetic events unfold, we will be watching and praying as our L-rd Yeshua commands.

Shalom uvracha,
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B'reishit: "In the Beginning" Genesis 1:1-6:8
This foundational Torah portion gives us a glimpse into the beginning of all things. Encompassing the creation of the universe, the fall of mankind, the origins of human culture, and the introduction of the nephilim, this portion is action-packed. there is a gem in this passage that is only found in the Hebrew. On further examination, it shows us that the Torah's validity in the everyday life of the believer has existed since B'reishit 1.
B'reishit 1:14-15 states: "G-d said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years; and let them be for lights in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth"; and that is how it was." In Hebrew, the word for "signs" is "owtowt," which simply means, "signs" or "omens." However, the word for "seasons" is not the seasons of the year (i.e. spring, summer, autumn, and winter), as one would think. This word is "mo'adim," which means "appointed times." this is the same word used for the appointed times listed in Vayikra 23 when HaShem instructs His people to meet with Him at very specific times of the week (Shabbat), month (new moon), and year (the seven feasts). This is a revolutionary discovery because it clearly declares that G-d's plan for mankind's salvation and sanctification is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
Some groups of believers seek to keep Shabbat, and this is laudable to a degree, but they don't keep the Mo'adim as found in Vayikra 23. Others wish to learn about the Feasts of the L-RD, but they neither make them a permanent part of their lives nor do they keep Shabbat. Still others keep the Mo'adim partially as if keeping the Feasts of HaShem is something optional. Whatever the case may be, though they confess the validity of the Word of G-d with their lips, they deny it in their lives. Doubtless this is due to ignorance, but the consequence of an inconsistent witness before the world is the same. G-d's calendar as foreshadowed in B'reishit 1:14 and revealed in Vayikra 23 is as crucial to our walk with our L-RD as acknowledging Him as our Creator and Owner. In fact, keeping His calendar helps us recognize this reality because we are living out the truth that He is L-rd of our time as well as of our talent and treasure. Furthermore, this helps us to show the world we are true talmidim (disciples) of Mashiach Yeshua. As it is written: ""Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah - not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19) Let us surrender all to Him Who both created us and redeemed us.

Shalom uvracha,
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Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12; Genesis 1:1-2:3
In this week's portion, we end the Torah reading cycle and at the same time, we begin it anew, reminding us that learning never ceases. D'varim 33 and 34 contain the parting blessings Moshe confers upon the tribes of Yisrael and his consequent passing from this life. As with his predecessors, the patriarchs, the Ruach HaKodesh gives him special prophetic insights before his death. How he speaks of Yisrael as a whole is striking, showing that HaShem sees us differently than we see each other or ourselves.Whereas D'varim 32 is an indictment against Yisrael's future unfaithfulness, D'varim 33 is once again the assurance of restoration. This passage is poetry at its finest. The heart of Moshe and HaShem shines through in this passage. D'varim 33:3-4 states: "He truly loves the peoples--all his holy ones are in your hand; sitting at your feet, they receive your instruction, the Torah Moshe commanded us as an inheritance for the community of Ya‘akov." In Hebrew, the word translated as "loves" is "chovev," which means "to fervently love or cherish." The blessings of Yisrael culminate in verses 26-29, which proclaim: ""Yeshurun, there is no one like G-d, riding through the heavens to help you, riding on the clouds in his majesty. The G-d of old is a dwelling-place, with everlasting arms beneath. He expelled the enemy before you and he said, ‘Destroy!' So Isra'el lives in security; the fountain of Ya‘akov is alone in a land of grain and new wine, where the skies drip with dew. Happy are you, Isra'el! "Who is like you, a people saved by ADONAI, your defender helping you and your sword of triumph? Your enemies will cringe before you, but you will trample down their high places."" Consider that these statements come from Moshe, who experiences the Yisraelim at their best at the foot of Mount Sinai and at their worst when THEY worship the golden calf and Baal-Peor. These words don't arise from wishful thinking. Rather, they arise from a heart that sees the beauty of Yisrael, past, present, and future.
All too often, we are quick to see faults in our brothers and sisters instead of seeing what is right and beautiful in them, and we are guilty of the same toward ourselves. Moshe teaches us to view ourselves and each other from our Heavenly Abba's perspective. Even though Moshe knows Yisrael will forsake HaShem in the future, he still calls them "Yeshurun," or "Upright ones." This is grace indeed. It is often said that people will live up to our expectations. Could it be that if we see ourselves and our brothers and sisters as "Yeshurun," we will begin to behave as such? Consider that in the opening sentences of almost every letter Rav Sha'ul writes, the believers are called "saints" or "holy ones." This is how the Holy One, blessed be He, truly sees us despite our shortcomings.
As it is written: "Praised be ADONAI, Father of our L-rd Yeshua the Messiah, who in the Messiah has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven. In the Messiah he chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in his presence." (Ephesians 1:3-4) May we learn to see each other the way Mashiach Yeshua sees us.

Shalom uvracha,
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Deuteronomy 32:1-52
As we near the end of D'varim, we revisit the song HaShem gives to Moshe and the elders of Yisrael as a witness against them should they forsake Him. In fact, in D'varim 31:21, HaShem informs Moshe that the Yisraelim will indeed forsake His covenant and worship idols. Since the song contained in D'varim 32 is a witness, does it give us some clues as to how this turning away from HaShem begins and how to guard our hearts from such unfaithfulness? The answer, unequivocally is yes. D'varim 32:7-14 recites Yisrael's history from bondage (verse 10) to blessing (verses 11-14). Tragically, this abundance of blessing precipitates into backsliding (verse 15). Why does this happen? Verse 18 gives us the answer: "You ignored the Rock who fathered you, you forgot G-d, who gave you birth." Thus, we see two pitfalls we as believers must avoid at all cost.
Sometimes, when we are born again, we wish to forget where we came from because it may be a source of consternation and shame. However, D'varim 32 commands us to remember where we were when our Redeemer found us and consider how He has exalted us to the honored place of being His children. If we forget what we were before Messiah purchased us, we become vulnerable to ingratitude and hard heartedness. (See Luke 7:40-48.) Also, contrasting our past with how Mashiach Yeshua has transformed us helps us to see and recognize our spiritual growth.
Perhaps an even more insidious trap for us as believers is that we tend to forget our G-d when all is going well in life. Like Yisrael, we start thinking our own righteousness and our own abilities are the sources of our blessings. (See D'varim 8:10-20.) We must guard our hearts from such thoughts. As it is written: "Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning." (James 1:17) Let us be ever mindful of HaShem's work in our lives, past, present, and future so that our faithfulness to Him remains strong and true.

Shalom uvracha,
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