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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 November 2013


Mikketz Genesis 41:1-44:17
Psalm 40

Most famously known for its Messianic significance contained in verses 7-8, Psalm 40 also reflects this week’s Torah portion in some interesting ways. In the first half of the Psalm, we celebrate with Yosef who has been delivered by HaShem from prison and exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh. In the second half, we glimpse a tiny bit of the dread Yosef’s brothers feel as life’s circumstances force them to face the sin they committed against him. There is another message in this piece of poetry, though, which will help us as believers overcome the wiles of the adversary.

Consisting of three stanzas, Psalm 40 portrays what each of us tends to face when trying to share our faith. Verses 1-9 are full of praise for how HaShem has dealt so kindly and generously with us, delivering us from the miry clay of sin and despair. Furthermore, He has written His Torah in our hearts, and it has changed us forever, becoming our delight. In verses 10-12, the tone of the Psalm changes from exaltation to bewilderment. Here, David testifies: "I have proclaimed what is right in the great assembly; I did not restrain my lips, [ADONAI], as you know. I did not hide your righteousness in my heart but declared your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal your grace and truth from the great assembly. [ADONAI], don't withhold your mercy from me. Let your grace and truth preserve me always." By verses 13-18, king David is lamenting how many evils surround him, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he is overwhelmed by his own iniquity (verse 13). Thankfully, he cries out to HaShem instead of giving up, but one can’t help wondering what happened.

Admittedly, this is a little speculation, but I propose that when David begins to proclaim the righteousness of HaShem (verse 10), the adversary does his level best to shame him into silence. The enemy attempts to do this by two methods. First, he floods David with the memories of his iniquities, and second, he uses people around David to jeer at him, discouraging him from speaking.

How many times do we proclaim what HaShem has done for us only to hear the sinister whispers of hasatan, reminding us of every failure, shortcoming, and sin we have ever committed. Worse yet, when we share our testimony with our family and friends, they add to the enemy’s litany of reasons why we should keep quiet. The truth is that the word of our testimony, whether it is sharing Torah or sharing our journey with HaShem and how He has transformed us, is a powerful weapon of warfare. The enemy would love nothing better than to silence the redeemed, keep us ignorant of who we are in Messiah Yeshua, and deceive us into believing we are still slaves to sin. As the Ruach HaKodesh gives us opportunities, let us proclaimed the mighty works of G-d, unashamed of Him or of ourselves. As it is written: "They defeated him because of the Lamb's blood and because of the message of their witness. Even when facing death they did not cling to life." (Revelation 12:11) The Hope of Yisrael has entrusted His message to us. We must not allow ourselves to be silenced.

Shalom uvracha,

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Vayeshev Genesis 37:1-40:23
Psalm 112

Extolling the virtues of the righteous, Psalm 112 is a masterful piece of Hebrew poetry. It is an acrostic, each verse containing a couplet, or in a couple cases, a triplet, and each phrase beginning with succeeding letters of the Aleph-bet. An acrostic certainly makes for easier memorization as it is meant to do, but its structure also contains more than meets the eye.

Twenty-two qualities of a righteous man are listed within Psalm 112’s ten verses. They begin with his fear of HaShem and his desire for HaShem’s commandments. It further speaks of his children being a blessed generation, and twice (verses 5 and 9), the Psalm says that the righteous man is merciful, lending and giving to the poor. In addition, he is an example to others, shining like a light in the darkness (verse 4) and trusting steadfastly in HaShem no matter the circumstances (verse 7). It doesn’t take much to notice that Yosef, the main character in Vayeshev, begins to learn these qualities through the fiery trials he experiences. Be that as it may, these righteous characteristics are very big shoes to fill, yet we know HaShem only presents us with the impossible so we will depend on Him alone to bring these qualities to fruition in us. That being said, we still have the mystery of what lesson the acrostic composition of this poem holds for us.

In his study of Galatians, Tim Hegg makes the astute observation that the ultimate hallmark of one’s salvation and righteousness is endurance. Taking us from Aleph to Tav, Psalm 112 demonstrates that Messiah Yeshua, the Beginning and the End, reveals His righteousness in us as we walk with Him day in, day out, through fire, and through water, through good times and bad, through thick and thin. Only once does Psalm 112 mention the righteous man’s words. Verse 5 says: "Things go well with the person who is merciful and lends, who conducts his affairs (Hebrew "words") with fairness (Hebrew "justice");" Everything else is about what the righteous person does. As we walk with our Messiah through trying times and mundane moments, let us remember that we are running a race, and those who persevere win the prize. As it is written: "Don't you know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So then, run to win! Now every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever." (2 Corinthians 9:24-25) Never ever give up.

Shalom uvracha,

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Vayishlach Genesis 32:4-36:43
Psalm 140

In the Psalm for this week, king David once again reflects what his forefather, Ya’akov, must face when confronting his brother, and later on, his vengeful sons. Interestingly, this Psalm starts out with a plea for HaShem to rescue David from "violent people." (Verse 2, CJB) This is an unfortunate translation because it takes away from the wisdom hidden in the Hebrew.
A more literal translation of Psalm 140:2 might be better rendered, "Rescue me from an evil person [Hebrew adam], protect and hide me from a man [Hebrew ish] of violences [Hebrew chamasim]." The plural use of the adjective "violence" takes on importance as we look further in this Psalm. Most of the Psalm relates king David’s fear of the violent actions of his enemies. However, in verses 4, 10, and 12, the violence from which David seeks rescuing is specifically related to speech. Verses 4, 10, and 12 of Psalm 140 are as follows: "They have made their tongues as sharp as a snake's; viper's venom is under their lips. ([Selah]) … May the heads of those who surround me be engulfed in the evil they spoke of, themselves. … Let slanderers [literally "man of the tongue"] find no place in the land; let the violent and evil be hunted relentlessly."

The Biblical definition of violence is not limited to action. It is conceived in subtle, deceitful words, harsh speech, or even speaking the truth but without love. Why do I not use the obvious word, "gossip?" We all too often think of gossip as outright lying about someone or speaking maliciously, but it is far more pervasive, and we usually don’t find this out until we have become its victims. To make matters even worse, every single one of us is also guilty of this kind of violence. How do we walk the walk when it comes to talk?

Scripture has plenty to say about our speech. The whole of ya’akov (James) chapter 3 is devoted to the troubles produced by the tongue. Matthew 18:15-17 instructs us to discuss problems only with those parties directly involved unless sin and unrepentance are occurring. Even then, there is a specific judicial process to follow. Ephesians 4:14-16 tells us that a sign of maturity is the ability to speak the truth in love. Furthermore, verses 25-27, and 29-32 of Ephesians 4 elaborate on how our speech should be full of kindness and beneficial to those hearing us speak. In addition, the Tanach is replete with examples of those choosing to fill their speech with praises to HaShem. Also, Proverbs 25:11 says: "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word appropriately spoken." So, the next time we want to share a juicy tidbit about someone with a friend, or complain about a brother or sister, let’s ask ourselves? Are we doing violence with our speech? As it is written: "The tongue has power over life and death; those who indulge it must eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21) May HaShem watch over our mouth, and set a guard over the door of our lips (Psalm 141:3).

Shalom uvracha,

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Vayetzeh Genesis 28:10-32:3
Psalm 3

Psalm 3 is composed while king David faces one of his most difficult trials. Like his forefather, Ya’akov, he must flee from family. Those who are supposed to be a refuge for him in the midst of life’s tempests are now his foes. Despite such calamity, Psalm 3 contains an example for us as we face our own troubles.

Consisting of nine verses in Hebrew and in the CJB, this poem can be divided into three sections. First, we are told what trial king David is facing (verse 1), his astonishment at how formidable it is (verse 2), and what his family members are saying to taunt him (verse 3). Second, king David shifts his focus from his problems to HaShem (verse 4), deciding to cry out to Him (verse 5), and embracing the peace and protection allowing David to sleep and wake (verse 6). As an aside, keep in mind that when king David flees from Avshalom, he faces the very real threat of being assassinated. Finally, in verses 7-9, king David calls on HaShem to defend him against his adversaries, and concludes his prayer by acknowledging that salvation comes from HaShem no matter what others say, and blessing rests on HaShem’s people. the fact that David thinks of the people of Yisrael while he is running for his life shows his remarkable shepherd’s heart. As with so many of the Psalms, this gives us practical examples of how to conduct ourselves while in the midst of painful or even dangerous circumstances.

Nothing hurts more than when loved ones turn against us. Like David confessing how overwhelmed he is by his troubles, it is healthy to come before HaShem and confess our own pain and fear. There comes a point, however, when we must choose where we will place our focus. If we choose to dwell on our problems to the exclusion of everything else, they will grow into unconquerable monsters. However, if we choose, like king David, to look to the L-RD as our shield, Savior, and Protector, we will eventually begin to feel peace and grace that is sufficient for us. Finally, king David’s statement that HaShem’s blessing is on His people exemplifies a lifesaving technique.

Believe it or not, reaching out and showing concern for others while in the midst of a trial is one of the best ways to get through it. When sorrow, pain, and fear threaten to drive us mad, helping others walk through their own troubles will bring a semblance of sanity. Choosing to lend a hand to our brothers and sisters walking through fire and water along with us will bring us to the realization that we are never alone. As it is written: "We have all kinds of troubles, but we are not crushed; we are perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not abandoned; knocked down, yet not destroyed." When we deal with trouble G-d’s way, we will notice His comforting Presence, rest, and blessing more readily.

Shalom uvracha,

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