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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 February 2011


This week's portion is a recounting of all the details of the Mishkan, showing us that G-d's people were very careful to do everything according to His wishes, not what they thought right in their own eyes. Preceding this, though, is the record of the offering given by the people of Yisrael that would make any church or ministry green with envy. Impressive as they may be, neither the monetary value nor the time and talent devoted to this project are the most important aspects of this offering; it is that all of the people gave from a willing heart. What does it mean to have a willing heart.
Shemot 35:21-29 records all the things and all the skills that the Yisraelim donated for the construction of the Mishkan. Those who had precious gems, precious metals, and other materials brought those things, and those who had skills for spinning yarn brought the works of their hands as well. Indeed, Shemot 36:4-7 declares that the people gave so much, each artisan had to stop his work and inform Moshe that there was enough and even too much given for his particular task. This shows us some very important lessons about how HaShem views giving and what is pleasing to Him.
I have personally interacted with those who are not fond of the concept of tithing or giving a tenth of their finances. I can safely say that with most, this dislike of tithing was not borne of the thought that a tenth is too small a gift to give. To justify their position, they often would say, "G-d loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). In other words, they should be allowed to give less because they feel better about it. However, when Rav sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) wrote 2 Corinthians 9:7, I daresay he was thinking of this Torah passage where the offering of the people was overwhelmingly generous. In defense of those who do give, it is also refreshing that Moshe and those in charge of constructing the Mishkan and its appurtenances knew when they had enough and too much. No one kept the extra offerings for himself, started a new project, or misused the surplus in any way. How can we apply this to our lives today? For us as believers, giving a tenth of our time, talent, and treasure is the absolute minimum. (Thanks to rav Lohrberg for this observation.) Perhaps some cannot give more than a tenth of their finances, but they can give more of their time or their talents. There are some who may not have much time, but they have the ability to give more treasure to the Kingdom. Wherever we find ourselves, let us give generously, go beyond the call of duty, and give from a willing heart. As it is written: "each should give according to what he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for G-d loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Shalom uvracha,

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This week's Torah portion is all about reconciliation and drawing near to the Holy One, blessed be He, to truly know Him. It begins with the command that every Yisraeli in the military pay one half shekel to atone for his shedding blood in war, and ends with the reestablishment of the covenant that the Yisraelim broke when they made and worshipped the golden calf. In the midst of all of this, HaShem reveals His character in more vivid detail than what one would realize unless he/she delves into the Hebrew. Shemot 34:6-7 contains a very familiar passage where HaShem shows Moshe His glory and proclaims His Name before him. Though this passage is worthy of extensive study, two phrases catch my attention. These two verses are quoted as follows: "ADONAI passed before him and proclaimed: "YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (ADONAI) is G-d, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth; showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving offenses, crimes and sins; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be experienced by their children and grandchildren, and even by the third and fourth generations." In verse 6, the Holy one, blessed be He, describes Himself as "rich in grace and truth," or as the KJV translates, "abundant in goodness and truth." According to the Hebrew, a better translation would be "abounding in covenantal love and truth." This correlates beautifully with Yochanan 1:14, which says: "the word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his sh’khinah, the sh’khinah of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth." Verse 7 of Shemot 34 contains another treasure. In the phrase " forgiving offenses, crimes and sins;" (CJB), the word for "forgiving" in the Hebrew is "noseh," which literally means "to bear, to lift up, or to carry away." Thus, the Hebrew would reflect the following translation, "bearing offenses, iniquity, and sins." One cannot help but think of Yochanan 1:29, which says: "the next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, "look! G-d’s lamb! the one who is taking away [noseh] the sin of the world!" In short, we see the Message of Redemption in Shemot 34:6-7. This might seem obvious to some, but there are far too many who view the "G-d of the Old Testament" as wrathful, vengeful, angry, etc. These uninformed individuals also see the "G-d of the New Testament" as loving, kind, patient, and so on. When we study the above-cited passages, we see that our G-d is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Conversely, if we dare to take a peak at Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we will see that our L-rd Yeshua is still the same consuming fire which abode on top of Mount Sinai (Shemot 24:17; Hebrews 12:29). Most of us, I'm sure, are aware of this, but it is all too tempting to make G-d into our own image, which is idolatry. Let us seek diligently to truly know Him and present Him to others as the Fire and the Cloud, as the Lion and the Lamb. As it is written: "therefore, since we have received an unshakeable kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may offer service that will please G-d, with reverence and fear. for indeed, "our G-d is a consuming fire!"" (Heb 12:28-29)

Shalom uvracha,
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This week's Torah portion is full of mystery. Beginning with a detailed explanation of the priestly garments, it continues with the ceremonies accompanying Aharon's and his sons' consecration as priests. There is one curious ritual the priests undergo as part of their ordination which speaks to us as believer priests in Messiah Yeshua. In shemot 29:20-21, Moshe is instructed to take the blood of the ram that was sacrificed for the priests' ordination and put some of the blood on the right ear of Aharon and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. He was also to take some more of the blood and sprinkle it on their clothes used for officiating in the priests' office. Thus, Aharon and his sons were consecrated from head to toe, literally. No longer could they think of themselves as priests when they were officiating; they were priests for the rest of their lives, whether they were waking or sleeping, ill or well, whether they felt like priests or not. There was no separation between private and public life. These men were representatives of the Most High twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Since the blood from the altar was sprinkled on them, they were bound to the altar symbolically. In short, they were living sacrifices.
We as believers are also called priests (1 Peter 2:9). As such, our entire being and life has been marked by the blood of Messiah Yeshua, forever consecrating us to His service. We, too, are His representatives regardless of our feelings or circumstances. There must be no discrepancy between our public and private lives. We, too, are living sacrifices. May the Holy One, blessed be He, grant us the grace to represent Him well in all things, at all times. May the world see that the blood of Messiah Yeshua marks us, setting us apart as holy for Him.  As it is written: "I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of G-d’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for G-d. this will please Him; it is the logical "temple worship" for you." (Ro 12:1)

Shalom uvracha,
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