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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 2012


Lekh L'kha Genesis 12:1-17:16
Haftarah Isaiah 40:27-41:16

In this Torah portion, B'reishit narrows its focus from the sweeping panorama of human history down to one person and his progeny. Scripture relates Avram's exploits and foibles as he sojourns in the land of Canaan, yet despite taking matters into his own hands concerning producing an heir, the Haftarah pays Avram the highest compliment. Isaiah 41:8-9 says: ""But you, Isra'el, my servant; Ya‘akov, whom I have chosen, descendants of Avraham my friend, I have taken you from the ends of the earth, summoned you from its most distant parts and said to you, ‘You are my servant'-- I have chosen you, not rejected you." The word used for "friend" referring to Avraham in verse 8 is "ohavi," which is a construct of the Hebrew "ahavah" or "love." Whereas the more common term translated as "friend" is "re'ah," the term "ohavi" as used in Isaiah 41:8 could perhaps be better translated as "my beloved friend." Though it is abundantly clear that G-d loves His people with an everlasting love, it is a rare thing for Him to call someone His friend. The only other person who is given a similar title is king David as he is referred to as a man after G-d's own Heart. (See, for instance, 1 Samuel 13:14 and Accts 13:22.) What is it about Avram that elicits such a title of endearment?

In his letter to the twelve tribes of israel in the diaspora, Ya'akov
(James) strings two pearls of Scripture together answering this question when he says: "You see that his [Avraham's] faith worked with his actions; by the actions the faith was made complete; and the passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled which says, ``Avraham had faith in God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness.'' He was even called God's friend." (James 2:22-23) Here, Ya'akov quotes both Genesis 15:6 and this week's Haftarah. According to this conbination of Scriptures, the prerequisites of friendship with G-d are faith and obedience. This powerful dual of faith and obedience are found countless times in Scripture. Sadly, too many believers have been taught that if someone is trying with his/her whole heart to be obedient, legalism is the motivation. However, we see that Avraham's belief in G-d results in very specific consequent actions based on that belief, and G-d counts him as righteous. Even more, Avraham is called G-d's beloved friend as stated above. King David exhibits this same kind of relationship with the Holy One, blessed be He. It is this kind of wholehearted, unconditional surrender and devotion that HaShem longs to see in us, too.

As it is
written: "You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave doesn't know what his master is about; but I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, I chose you; and I have commissioned you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that whatever you ask from the Father in my name he may give you." (John
15:14-16) Like Avraham our father (Galatians 3:29), may we each come to be known as the beloved friend of G-d.


Shalom uvracha,


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2 Noach Genesis 6:8-11:32 
Haftarah Isaiah 54:1-55:5

This week's Torah portion focuses primarily on Noach and his family as they live through the global flood and reestablish life on the earth. In B'reishit 9:12-17, G-d declares that there will never be another global flood destroying all living things. Isaiah 54:9-10 connects this Haftarah to the Torah portion by referring to this particular covenant in relation to His people Yisrael. Isaiah 54:9-10 states: ""For me this is like Noach's flood. Just as I swore that no flood like Noach's would ever again cover the earth, so now I swear that never again will I be angry with you or rebuke you. For the mountains may leave and the hills be removed, but my grace will never leave you, and my covenant of peace will not be removed," says ADONAI, who has compassion on you." This passage is crucially important to understand and take to heart for a number of reasons. First, it shows us that, though G-d progressively reveals more aspects of His covenants, He never abrogates them. Notice that He refers to the earlier covenant made with Noach and every living creature in B'reishit 9-12-17 to establish the perpetuity of His covenant with Yisrael. Since He is trustworthy with the first covenant, He will be just as trustworthy with this one. Second, if, as replacement theology would purport, G-d has either set Yisrael aside or rejected His people altogether, then all of creation is in danger of another global flood.

Thankfully, we may safely rest in the assurance that neither is the case because our G-d is forever one hundred percent trustworthy. Isaiah 54:11-17 further elaborates how HaShem will exalt and beautify His people and His city, Yerushalayim. Notice that in verse 12, HaShem promises that her windows, gates, and walls will be garnished with sapphires, rubies, garnets, and gemstones (CJB). These stones are very hard, signifying that even her most vulnerable points of entry will be well fortified. Though these promises have yet to come to complete fruition, the prophet Isaiah tells us how we can have a foretaste of HaShem's everlasting covenant of peace (verse 10) and its benefits here and now. In chapter 55, the subject seemingly abruptly changes, but at a closer look, we see that HaShem is making abundantly clear where Yisrael's peace, safety, and redemption lie. Isaiah 55:1-3 proclaim: ""All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You without money, come, buy, and eat! Yes, come! Buy wine and milk without money-- it's free! Why spend money for what isn't food, your wages for what doesn't satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and you will eat well, you will enjoy the fat of the land. Open your ears, and come to me; listen well, and you will live-- I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the grace I assured David." Once again, water comes into play as a motif connecting the Torah portion and the Haftarah, albeit in a different mode. The same water that brought destruction upon the earth also gives life. Specifically, in Isaiah 55:1-3, HaShem presents Himself as the Fount of living water that will satisfy the thirsty soul (Jeremiah 2:13; John 7:37-38), and the Bread from Heaven that will fill the deepest hunger (Jeremiah 31:13 CJB; John 6:35). He is the gently flowing waters of Shiloh (Isaiah 8:6), and it is only in Him that Yisrael and everyone joined to her find the fulfillment of the promises found in chapter 54.

Along with Yisrael, let us forsake the broken and polluted cisterns of the world (Jeremiah 2:13) and come to the Fount of living water. As it is written: "And he said to me, It is done! I am the 'A' and the 'Z,' the Beginning and the End. To anyone who is thirsty I myself will give water free of charge from the Fountain of Life. He who wins the victory will receive these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son." (Revelation 21:6-7) If we drink deeply of Him, His life will flow through us to a dry and thirsty world (Psalm 63:2).

I pray that this encourages you to drink deeply from Him Who is the Fountain of living water, and that you'll share this water with others.
Shalom uvracha, Hadassah

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B’reishit Genesis 1:1-6:8
Haftarah Isaiah 42:5-43:10

This Haftarah lauds the Creator using majestic language. He Who spread out the heavens and stretched out the earth, Who breathed life into every creature (verse 5), will move Heaven and earth to redeem and regather His people so they might be His witnesses (42:14-16; 43:1-10). This is the obvious connection between B’reishit and its Haftarah, but there is a more subtle connection which comes to bear. Sadly, this Haftarah doesn’t begin with verses 1-4 of Isaiah 42. One can only speculate as to why this is the case, since we neither know who assigned the Haftarot (plural) to each Torah portion, nor do we know when they were assigned or if they have been altered throughout history. What we do know is that Isaiah 42:1-4 and 6-9 are Messianic in tone and give us a hint at the identity of the One Who would crush the serpent’s head (B’reishit 3:15). Whereas B’reishit gives us a picture of the first Adam who rebelled against his Creator, Isaiah 42:1-9 gives us a picture of the second Adam who would be completely obedient to His Father. In fact, rav Sha’ul correlates Adam with the Messiah when he says: "For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man. For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming;" (1 Corinthians 15:21-13) The Messianic nature of Isaiah 42:1-4 in particular is coroborated by Matthew 12:17-21, which says: "This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Yesha'yahu the prophet, "Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will announce justice to the Gentiles. He will not fight or shout, no one will hear his voice in the streets; he will not snap off a broken reed or snuff out a smoldering wick until he has brought justice through to victory. In him the Gentiles will put their hope."" Why is all of this so important to us as believers today? Throughout the ages, many have either claimed to be the Messiah, or others have claimed messiahship for a given individual who approved their foolishness by his silence. It is not enough to say, "I believe Yeshua is the Messiah." We must know how to recognize what Messiah will look like so we ourselves don’t fall into deception. G-d, in His wisdom and mercy, has given us ample information for us to use in discerning between the true Messiah and a false one. If we diligently study to know what the prophets said the Messiah would look like, and how our L-rd Yeshua matches that picture, our faith will never be shaken. As it is written: "But you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, recalling the people from whom you learned it; and recalling too how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can give you the wisdom that leads to deliverance through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah." (2 Timothy 3:14-15) If we get to know our Bibles well, we will get to know our Messiah Yeshua even better.


Shalom uvracha,


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Haftarah Introduction

Welcome to the beginning of another Torah cycle. Each year of study brings new insight and revelation. Over the past couple of years, we have studied the foundations of our faith as found in the Torah and how to live it in very practical ways. Like a house, Scripture has more than just the foundational floor or basement. Let us move to the next floor. Each Torah portion is assigned a complementary portion from the Prophets, known as the Haftarah. The word "Haftarah" comes from the root "pe-tet-resh," meaning "concluding portion."
http://www.jewfaq.org/readings.htm.) Though no one knows for sure when the Haftarah portions were assigned to the Torah portions, we do know this tradition dates back to the time of our L-rd Yeshua (see Luke 4:16). Since we as Messianic believers espouse the Brit Chadeshah as an integral part of Scripture, the Haftarah is by no means the conclusion, but it does shed light on Torah, often declaring the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). With this in mind, I invite you to join me as we explore the Haftarah for each Torah portion.

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