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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 December 2012

20
Vayigash Genesis 44:18-47:27
Haftarah Ezekiel 37:15-28
 
This Haftarah is shorter, but it is brimming with covenantal promises from our faithful G-d. Beginning with the promise to reunify the two kingdoms of Yisrael, it continues with the reassurance that He will reestablish His everlasting covenant with them. The reunification of Yisrael is foreshadowed in the Torah portion as both Y’hudah and Yosef take center stage in the unfolding drama of reconciliation. We can learn at least two things from this week’s Haftarah. Ezekiel 37:15-19 says emphatically that the once divided Yisrael will become one nation in their own land again. We have been blessed to see the first flowering of this promise coming to fruition. At a closer look, we also see that some aspects of this have yet to be fulfilled. Keeping in mind that Ezekiel receives this word from HaShem when both Yisrael and Y’hudah are scattered abroad, this passage puts to rest a modern-day myth. There is no such thing as the "lost" tribes of Yisrael. HaShem knows where every tribe, family, and every single individual of Yisrael is, no matter whether they are aware of their Jewish identity or whether it has been lost in the maylay of history. He knows where each and every one of His sheep is, and He will regather them under the care of the Good Shepherd of His choosing (Ezekiel 37:24-25; John 6:39, 10:11).
That being said, there is another truth that can fill our hearts with comfort and encouragement. Very few of us in the United States have experienced being forcibly removed from our homes and taken to a foreign land against our will, but this is exactly what happened to the northern and southern kingdoms of Yisrael. If anyone had the right to feel forsaken and forgotten, they did. However, if HaShem has not forgotten nor forsaken His people for the past 4000 years, He will not forget or forsake us. this is crucial to remember, especially in those moments when we feel like we’re the only ones serving Him or when we feel devastatingly alone in the midst of difficult trials. During these dark times, we can look at prophecies like the one found in this week’s Haftarah and be reminded once again that our Abba has forever been faithful and will forever be faithful to His beloved ones.
As it is
written: "My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no one can snatch them from the Father's hands. I and the Father are one." (John 10:27-30) HaShem never forgets His own.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

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13
Miketz Genesis 41:1-44:17
Haftarah Zechariah 2:14-4:7

The usual Haftarah for Miketz is 1 Kings 3:15-4:1. However, since we are in the season of Chanukah during this parasha this year, the Chanukah Haftarah of Zechariah 2:14-4:7 takes precedence. Though this Haftarah seems to have little connection with this week’s Torah portion, it contains the Message of Redemption in a nutshell, vividly showing us what Chanukah is really about. Zechariah 2:14-17 opens with the command to sing and rejoice, for HaShem is faithful to bring about what He has promised. Jerusalem will be His city, Y’hudah His portion, and He will dwell in the midst of His people. However, chapters 3 and 4 present two major obstacles to the Holy One taking up residence among His people. In chapter 3, Y’hoshua, the Kohen HaGadol, stands before the angel of HaShem, and the accuser is standing there as well, ready to accuse him before the Holy One of Yisrael. To make matters worse, Y’hoshua is clothed in filthy, dung-covered robes (verse 3), giving the accuser valid grounds to accuse. Then, in chapter 4, we find the Temple having been started, but it remains in a state of disrepair and incompleteness. Notice that the Kohen HaGadol cannot cleanse himself, and the Temple cannot rebuild itself. In both cases, there is a desperate need for HaShem Himself to intervene, cleanse, and redeem. In His great mercy and compassion, HaShem removes Y’hoshua’s iniquity, clothing him in fine, clean robes (3:4-7). Then, in Zechariah 4:6-7, He makes abundantly clear that His Temple would not be repaired or completed by might or power, but by His Spirit. This Haftarah demonstrates the main themes of Chanukah: cleansing from defilement, repair, and rededication. Even as Y’hoshua is cleansed by HaShem from his filthiness and iniquity, so we are cleansed by Messiah Himself from our sin, iniquity, and transgression. Also, as the Temple is depicted as being in need of repair and completion, so we are in the process of being built into a temple for His glory and service (1 Peter 2:5).
Also, as the candles are rekindled on the chanukiyah each night, so we take this time to ask Messiah Yeshua to rekindle us, rededicating ourselves to the Holy One of Yisrael. As we celebrate this season, spinning the dreidle and eating more fried foods than we care to remember, let us take time to draw near to our Messiah, letting Him cleanse us, repair our brokenness, and fill us anew with His light and fire. As it is written: "For you used to be darkness; but now, united with the L-rd, you are light. Live like children of light, for the fruit of the light is in every kind of goodness, rightness and truth- try to determine what will please the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8-10) May the Light of Messiah Yeshua shine ever brighter in and through us both now and always.

May you have the happiest Chanukah. Like the candles we light, may we burn brightly for Messiah Yeshua, shining His Light in the darkness.
Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

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05

Vayeshev Genesis 37:1-40:23
Haftarah Amos 2:6-3:8

This Haftarah focuses on two issues. It begins with the indictment against Yisrael for subverting the rights of the poor and needy, as well as sexual deviance as the Torah portion also portrays. This passage in Amos goes on, however, to indict Yisrael for something we don’t give much thought to, but it is one of the most egregious things a person or group can do. Amos 2:11-12 says: "I raised up some of your sons to be prophets, other young men of yours to be [n'zirim]. People of Isra'el! Isn't that true?" asks [ADONAI.] But you gave the [n'zirim] wine to drink and ordered the prophets, 'Don't prophesy!'" It’s bad enough to sin, but causing others to sin seems to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back (see verses 13-16). Though we would certainly agree that the prophets must be allowed to prophesy and the n’zirim should be permitted to abstain from wine, there are other, more subtle areas where we must proceed with caution, lest we become guilty of the same transgression. As Messianic believers, we often seem to face more ire from our believing brothers and sisters about our kosher diet, calendar, and other things that make us different than we would face from unbelievers. This is a sad state of affairs. Even more sad is that church history is rife with examples of "Christians" forcing Jewish people to violate the laws of kashrut to "prove" their belief in Messiah Yeshua. Unfortunately, if we aren’t careful, we may perpetuate those same mistakes. As we each experience that close, personal relationship and walk with HaShem, our convictions may differ from individual to individual. If we pressure a brother or sister to go against those convictions, this causes that brother or sister to sin. Notice that Torah does not forbid the drinking of wine, but for the n’zirim, it is strictly forbidden for them to drink wine or partake of anything from the vine (Numbers 6:3-4). Also, for most of us, it is wisdom to keep quiet on occasion, but for the prophet to withhold the Word of the L-RD is folly. In those areas where Scripture is silent, let us respect and encourage each other in our walk with HaShem, as each person’s walk will look a little different from our own. Let us protect each other and look out for each other, remembering that we are all still in the process of growing up into the fullness of Messiah Yeshua. As it is written: "Therefore, let's stop passing judgment on each other! Instead, make this one judgment- not to put a stumbling block or a snare in a brother's way." (Romans 14:13) Let us be gracious to our brothers and sisters, just as HaShem has been gracious to us.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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