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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 October 2013

31

Tol’dot Genesis 25:19-28:9
Psalm 36

Many parallels exist between the Torah portion Tol’dot and Psalm 36. One of the main themes of this Psalm is how the wicked persist in evil, but will ultimately be defeated. Yitzchak experiences this persistent evil as he must contend with the Philistines who quarrel over the wells of water his father, Avraham, had dug. Consider that the Philistines’ taking away Avraham’s wells after his death and treating his son so inhospitably is an egregious breach of covenant.

To review, in B’reisheet 21:22-23, Avimelekh, king of the Philistines, asks Avraham to enter into covenant with him. One term of this covenant is that Avraham would not deal falsely with Avimelekh, his son, or his grandson. It is understood that Avraham would require the same of Avimelekh. Yet in this week’s Torah portion, Yitzchak is harassed until he moves away from Avimelekh’s territory, and he must fight to regain possession of his father’s wells. Though Yitzchak contends for what is rightfully his, pursuing justice as Torah commands (Deuteronomy 16:20), he could have taken more drastic measures. Recall that when entering a blood covenant, animals are cut in half, and the parties recite something to the effect, "May what was done to these animals be done to me if I break this covenant." Yitzchak, however, does not pursue revenge, but he is content to find a peaceful place to live with his household. Later, in B’reisheet 26:26-31, Avimelekh and his company renew the covenant with Yitzchak, and Yitzchak, for his part, is conciliatory toward them, accepting the covenant. By not holding a grudge, he exhibits the inner Source of living water his enemies can’t touch.

Psalm 36:8-10 (CJB numbering) says: "How precious, G-d, is your grace! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings, they feast on the rich bounty of your house, and you have them drink from the stream of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light." Living water figures prominently in these verses, symbolizing the Ruach HaKodesh. (See, for instance, Jeremiah 2:12-13, 17:12-14; Isaiah 8:6-7; and John 7:37-39.) Interestingly, the Hebrew word referring the "stream" is "nachal," which has the idea of being a torrent, as when a wadi is flooded. Furthermore, the word for "fountain" is "makor," or literally "source." Finally, the word "delights" is "adan," from which we get "Eden." Hence this Living Water from within will make us spiritually verdant and fruitful. Theoretically, this is nice, but how does this affect our halachah?

Yitzchak’s behavior is beyond what is natural or normal. It is supernatural behavior. Now, before we start thinking of miracles, signs, and wonders, let’s broaden our horizons and see another aspect of the true, life-changing power of G-d. We, like Yitzchak, often face injustices, broken promises, unfair treatment, disrespect, and the list goes on. It is natural and normal to react to these struggles by defending ourselves in our own strength, or going on the offensive, deciding we will hurt someone before they hurt us. However, if we truly take refuge under the Wings of HaShem, as Psalm 36 says, we will experience the same shielding Presence as our forefathers. We will also find the power of the Ruach more than sufficient to cause us to walk as our Master walked, forgiving our enemies. Yes, we’re sure to have enemies, human nature being what it is, but like our L-rd Yeshua, we will learn to love them. Also like Yitzchak, we, too, should pursue justice when the need arises as Torah commands so evil doesn’t prevail. Trusting implicitly in our G-d to defend and protect us, and loving our enemies while pursuing justice is the supernatural life to which we’ve been called. Of course it isn’t easy, but the Ruach always shows Himself mighty through the humanly impossible. This is how we bear the family resemblance of being children of G-d. As it is written: "You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. … Therefore you shall be perfect [wholehearted, mature], just as your Father in heaven is perfect [ibid]." (Matthew 5:43-45, 48 NKJV) Like Yitzchak, let us show the Love and Grace of HaShem regardless of how others treat us.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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23

Chayyei Sarah Genesis 23:1-25:18
Tehilim (Psalm) 45

Titled as a love song, Psalm 45 is also a Maskil or song of instruction. Furthermore, it is composed for the sons of Korach. Psalms containing the notation, "For the sons of Korach" are some of the most prophetic, mysterious, and Messianic in nature. With this in mind, let us take a deeper look at this wedding song.

Mirroring the corresponding theme of weddings in the accompanying Torah portion, Psalm 45’s distinction is found in its depiction of a royal wedding. Though Yitzchak (Isaac) is to bring forth the nation of Yisrael, he wouldn’t be considered a king, but a nomad, a sojourner in a land not yet his. Rivkah, daughter of B’tu’el, Yitzchak’s second cousin, would not necessarily pass as royalty, either. Who, then, is this royal couple lauded by this week’s Psalm?

The book of Hebrews tells us the identity of the King celebrated in this wedding song. Hebrews 1:8-9 says: "but to the Son, he says, "Your throne, O G-d, will last forever and ever; you rule your Kingdom with a scepter of equity; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore, O G-d, your G-d has anointed you with the oil of joy in preference to your companions";" Quoting Psalm 45:7-8, the author of Hebrews identifies the King as none other than Messiah Yeshua Himself. According to Ephesians 5:25-32 and Revelation 19:7-8, the Bride in this song would be His people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who are in union with Him. Since this is a Maskil Psalm, it gives us, the Bride, some instructions we should heed.

Psalm 45:11 (CJB numbering) admonishes: "Listen, daughter! Think, pay attention! Forget your own people and your father's house, and the king will desire your beauty; for he is your lord, so honor him." The Hebrew for "so honor him," is literally, "bow to him," or "worship him." Even as Avram is called to leave his father’s house and follow HaShem (B’reisheet 12:1-3), and Rivkah is asked to leave her home, parents, and everything she knows to marry a man she has never met (B’reisheet 24:58-59), so we are called to surrender completely to Messiah Yeshua and walk with Him into the unknown. We, too, are called to forget our family heritage, friends, hobbies, past achievements, standing in our communities, and anything else hindering us from drawing close to Him. Some of these things are not difficult to forsake if they are unpleasant to us, but part of surrender is forsaking the lovely, pleasant, familiar things we treasure. If we do, we will find we have been called to a higher purpose than we could ever dream or imagine. As it is written: "Not only that, but I consider everything a disadvantage in comparison with the supreme value of knowing the Messiah Yeshua as my L-rd. It was because of him that I gave up everything and regard it all as garbage, in order to gain the Messiah and be found in union with him, not having any righteousness of my own based on legalism, but having that righteousness which comes through the Messiah's faithfulness, the righteousness from G-d based on trust. Yes, I gave it all up in order to know him, that is, to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings as I am being conformed to his death, so that somehow I might arrive at being resurrected from the dead. It is not that I have already obtained it or already reached the goal- no, I keep pursuing it in the hope of taking hold of that for which the Messiah Yeshua took hold of me." (Philippians 3:8-12) Messiah Yeshua is our destiny.

Shalom uvracha
Hadassah

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15

Vayera Genesis 18:1-22:24
Psalm 11

Psalm 11 hints at the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as Avraham’s trial when HaShem asks him to offer his one and only son as a burnt offering in B’reisheet 22. It further elaborates on the reasons for Sodom and Gomorrah’s overthrow: The people were wicked and they loved violence. When compared with passages like Zechariah 14, Psalm 11 takes on high prophetic significance. What has been before will be again (Ecclesiastes 1:9). What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah will happen to Israel’s enemies. There is another theme in this Psalm, however, which gives insight into the difference between a trial from the Hand of HaShem and an attack of the adversary.

Psalm 11:2 says: "For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart." (NKJV) Though we normally quote from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), the New King James Version reflects the Hebrew more closely. The Hebrew translated as "secretly" is literally "in darkness." Contrast this with Psalm 11:4-5, which says: "The L-RD is in His holy temple, the L-RD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The L-RD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates." (NKJV) Once more, the contrast lies in the Hebrew, not the English. It is contained in the odd phrase, "His eyelids test the sons of men."

When studying some of the connotations for the word "eyelids," the Hebrew brings to light some very interesting characteristics. Figuratively, the Hebrew word "af" (eyelid) can be used to refer to dawn or rays of the sun. Believe it or not, we can learn how to distinguish between whether we are experiencing an attack of the enemy or a trial.

Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but if we extrapolate the afore-mentioned contrast, we see that an attack of the adversary is always in darkness, and its goal is death. A trial, on the other hand, brings things to light, and promotes life and righteousness. Notice that verse 5 of Psalm 11 says HaShem tries the righteous. Though these distinctions seem clear on paper, they are far from clear in life.

We know that HaShem uses what the enemy means for evil, and turns it to good. That being said, it is important to ask ourselves why we are going through a difficult time in our lives. Doing so will promote sensitivity to the Ruach HaKodesh. Sometimes, we are truly going through a trial, which is bringing to light areas where G-d’s Character is being developed in us, or areas where it needs to be developed. Sometimes, though, we might be suffering the consequences of a bad decision or two, but we blame the adversary, giving him credit he doesn’t deserve, or we think we’re being tested when our heartache and sorrow are our own doing. . Yet other times, we really are facing our foe in an all-out battle. Wherever we may find ourselves, if we resolve to cleave to HaShem, walking in His ways alone, no matter what, He will mercifully and graciously bring us through whatever we’re facing. As it is written: " 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 1:6-7 CJB) If we are willing to learn, troublesome times will teach us how to truly trust HaShem.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

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10

Lekh L’kha Genesis 12:1-17:16
Psalm 110

Consisting of only seven verses, this gem of a Psalm is highly Messianic in nature. Though it hints at the battle taking place in B’reisheet 14 between Avram and the kings who took Lot captive (verse 3), its prophetic significance reaches far beyond Avram. Our L-rd Yeshua Himself appeals to the Messianic overtones of Psalm 110:1 when He questions the Torah teachers concerning their views about the Messiah (Matthew 22:41-46). That being said, there is one verse in Psalm 110 which might give us pause when reflecting on the perpetuity of both the Malki-Tzedekian and Levitical priesthoods.

Psalm 110:4 proclaims: "[ADONAI] has sworn it, and he will never retract- "You are a [cohen] forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek."" When we compare this with verses like Shemot 29:9 and B’midbar 25:10-13, we notice that the Levitical priesthood is to be perpetual as well. Can two perpetual priesthoods coexist?

When mentioning the priesthood after the order of Malki-Tzedek, the first thing that comes to most believers’ minds is the treatise written on this subject in Hebrews chapters 5-8. In these passages, the author of Hebrews argues that our L-rd Yeshua is the High Priest forever after the order of Malki-Tzedek, and that this priesthood is preeminent over the Levitical priesthood. In presenting his evidence to prove his point, the author refers back to this week’s Torah portion, along with quoting Psalm 110:4, expounding on Avram’s giving tithes to Malki-Tzedek as a sign of deference and subservience. Nowhere does the book of Hebrews state that one priesthood replaces another. Rather, due to the absence of the Temple, the Levitical priesthood is "sleeping," as it were, but very much alive. In fact, recent developments as chronicled by the Temple Institute suggest that this priesthood is being raised from slumber by the Mighty Hand of HaShem Himself.

(Please visit
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150354149409969.1073741845.22738684968&type=1 for an article from the Temple Institute on how modern-day cohanim (priests) are being trained and prepared for service in the third Temple.) What bearing does all of this have on our lives right now?

First, when both our L-rd Yeshua and Rav Sha’ul attest to the fact that all Scripture points to our Messiah, that is no exaggeration. We can keep this in mind when we come across difficult Scripture passages. Messiah Yeshua is in them. All we have to do is seek Him, knowing He has promised we will find Him. In addition, we won’t have to do any wild speculations in order to see Him there, either. Second, our G-d is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping G-d. When He says something will endure forever, that’s exactly what He means. Yes, forever is really forever, not the end of an age or the end of a dispensation, but never-ending. I realize we dwell on this theme quite a bit, but we have 2000 years of really bad teaching to forget, and G-d’s truth about this matter to relearn. After all, His reputation and trustworthiness is at stake, and the enemy would like nothing better than for us to either knowingly or unwittingly bring G-d’s faithfulness into question.

As we daily walk with the High Priest forever after the order of Malki-Tzedek, let us trust completely in Him Who is as faithful as eternity is long. As it is written: "Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) HaShem’s future faithfulness is built upon His past promises.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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03

Noach Genesis 6:9-11:32
Psalm 29

The global Flood is the focus of the first half of this week’s Torah portion, and Psalm 29 elaborates upon this subject. As is the case with the best of poetry, it does more than relate the events taking place during the flood. It describes in vivid detail the forests being stripped bare and animals giving birth prematurely (verse 9), massive earthquakes and volcanic activity (verses 5-8), and the extraordinary amounts of water thundering and rushing over the surface of the earth (verse 3). The main focus of this majestic Psalm, however, is not necessarily the Flood, but the Voice.

Harkening back to the Creation account in B’reisheet (Genesis) 1, Psalm 29 celebrates the Voice of HaShem. In fact, His Voice is mentioned seven times in these eleven verses. Even as HaShem spoke Creation into existence, so His Voice also caused the Flood to happen. One wonders if other Scripture passages having to do with the Voice of HaShem allude back to this Psalm. Consider, for instance, Ezekiel 1:24, where Ezekiel the priest relates his vision: " 1: "I heard the sound of their wings when they moved; it was like the sound of rushing water, like the voice of [Shaddai], like the noise of a tumultuous crowd or army. When they stopped, they lowered their wings." Furthermore, our L-rd Yeshua’s Voice is described as follows: "I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the Lord; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet, saying, "Write down what you see on a scroll, and send it to the seven Messianic communities- Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea!"" (Revelation 1:10-11) In light of these passages, it’s a good thing HaShem chooses to whisper most of the time. (See 1 Kings 19:12.) The question is: Are we listening?

How many times have we felt the Ruach HaKodesh impress something on our hearts, but we weren’t obedient to His whisper? In our familiarity with Him, we forget that He is the great G-d and King, the One Whose Voice is like thunder. However, in His great mercy, grace, and compassion, He whispers to our hearts, drawing us to Himself (Jeremiah 31:3). Admittedly, in our frustration with our insensitivity, we sometimes wish He would speak a little louder, but considering the above-mentioned Scriptures, it’s a good thing He doesn’t. If we learn to recognize HaShem’s Voice when He whispers, we will know that beloved Voice when He issues the final call. As it is written: "Don't be surprised at this; because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his [the Son of Man’s] voice and come out- those who have done good to a resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment." (John 5:28-29) The Voice of HaShem gives us life and holds the universe together (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:1-3).

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

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