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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 March 2012


Parashah #25 Tzav: "Command"
Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:1-8:36

In this week's Torah portion, we learn more specifics concerning trespass offerings and peace offerings. The portion comes to completion with the consecration of Aharon and his sons as priests. This consecration ceremony sets Aharon and his sons apart as living sacrifices to the Holy One, blessed be He. At the end of the ceremony, Moshe relates a command that teaches us about the process of sanctification and the consequent calling on our lives.
In Vayikra 8:33-36, Moshe tells Aharon and his sons: "You are not to go out from the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are over; since ADONAI will be consecrating you for seven days. He ordered done what has been done today, in order to make atonement for you. You are to remain at the entrance to the tent of meeting day and night for seven days, thereby obeying what ADONAI ordered done, so that you may not die. For this is what I was ordered." Aharon and his sons did all the things which ADONAI ordered through Moshe." This seven-day seclusion bears a striking parallel with the bridal week after a wedding takes place. (See B'reishit 29:27.) During this time of living in the Mishkan, the priests learn how to properly offer sacrifices and how to draw near to the Holy One. Interestingly, Aharon and his sons are set apart as holy as soon as HaShem singles them out as priests. Yet they also must go through the seven-day ceremony of consecration in order to be considered sanctified. Notice also that they may not leave the Mishkan because the anointing oil is upon them. As it is with the priests, so it is with us as believers.
Sometimes, we debate whether becoming holy or sanctified is instantaneous or whether it is a process over time. True to authentic Hebraic thought, the answer is "yes." As soon as we are born again, we are considered holy ones. Rav Sha'ul reflects this reality in the opening salutations of most of his letters. On the other hand, we must spend time in the Presence of our L-rd and Master while He consecrates us for His service. This is especially true when we realize what calling He has on our lives. When we have discovered what our calling is, let us not rush off, trying to figure out things on our own. Rather, let us abide in our L-rd's Presence because the anointing oil is upon us. If we do, we will be fully and adequately prepared for the assignment He gives us to do. As it is written: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:4-5 KJV) Like the priests, let us allow the Holy One, blessed be He, to consecrate us for His service and glory.

Shalom uvracha,

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Parashah #24 Vayikra: "And He Called"
Leviticus 1:1-5:26

This week's Torah portion delineates the various offerings to be made and for what purpose. Keeping in mind that the word for offering shares the same root as the verb "to draw near," each offering pictures a step in our walk with the Holy One, blessed be He. There is one phrase that occurs repeatedly in conjunction with these offerings, showing us how important they are to HaShem. This phrase is "fragrant aroma" (CJB) or "sweet savor" (KJV). The phrase "fragrant aroma" or "sweet savor" occurs forty-three times in Scripture. The vast majority of these occurrences are found in Torah and are linked with the burning of the offerings on the altar. The Hebrew for this phrase is "Re'ach nichoach." It implies a fragrance that is soothing or quieting. It is reminiscent of coming home after a stressful day and smelling that favorite scented candle or potpourri. We breathe in the aroma and smile, and in that moment, the cares of the day don't seem quite as heavy. This is "re'ach nichoach." We must ask, though: What is so soothing about burning fat and flesh upon the altar? Two answers present themselves. First, the pleasant odor comes from the worshiper presenting his or her heart along with the offering. The prophets and the writings are replete with warnings that if the offering isn't given with one's whole heart, HaShem takes no delight either in it or in the worshiper. (See, for instance, Proverbs 15:8; 21:27; 28:9; and Isaiah 1:11-20.) Second, the offerings are a foreshadowing of the redemption and atonement Mashiach Yeshua would accomplish in His first appearing. Since we as believers are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2), this concept of being re'ach nichoach is pertinent to our lives today.
Rav Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) says that we are the fragrant aroma of the Mashiach, and that this fragrance has two affects on the world. For those who are being saved, it is the scent of life, but for those who are perishing, it is the stench of death. In studying the Besorat HaGe'ulah (Message of Redemption or Gospels), we see that some were inexorably drawn to Mashiach Yeshua, and others were repelled. Since we are His talmidim (disciples), it should come as no surprise that we will have the same affect on those around us. However, because we are in union with Mashiach Yeshua, we can delight in knowing we are truly a most pleasant and soothing aroma to HaShem. As it is written: "But thanks be to G-d, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him! For to G-d we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost; to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task? For we are not like a lot of folks who go about huckstering G-d's message for a fee; on the contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart, as people sent by G-d, standing in G-d's presence, living in union with the Messiah." (2 Corinthians 2:14-17) Let us continually exude the rare perfume of Mashiach Yeshua everywhere we go and in everything we do.

Shalom uvracha,
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Parshiyot #22 and #23
Vayak'hel-P'kudei: "And He Gathered" -- "The Sum"
Exodus 35:1-40:38

This week's double Torah portion details the work that the Yisraelim do to construct the Mishkan. the repetition of what is found in Shemot 25-28 shows us the people's conscious decision to do the work exactly as they had been commanded. they neither turn to the right hand nor to the left. Shemot 35:30-35 shares with us the one factor that makes all of this artisanry possible, and this very factor continues to be of upmost importance to us today. Shemot 35:30-35 states: "Moshe said to the people of Isra'el, "See, ADONAI has singled out B'tzal'el the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Y'hudah. He has filled him with the Spirit of God-- with wisdom, understanding and knowledge concerning every kind of artisanry. He is a master of design in gold, silver, bronze, cutting precious stones to be set, woodcarving and every other craft. (ADONAI) has also given him and Oholi'av the son of Achisamakh, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with the skill needed for every kind of work, whether done by an artisan, a designer, an embroiderer using blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen, or a weaver-- they have the skill for every kind of work and design." Previously in this same chapter, Moshe repeatedly states that those who brought the offering of HaShem for the construction of the Mishkan were wise-hearted or were filled with wisdom.
In Hebraic fashion, Moshe then depicts how this wisdom is manifested in very practical, hands-on terms. Here, in the above quoted passage, Scripture says that B'tzal'el and Oholi'av are filled with the Spirit of G-d. This filling is manifested in their skills as master craftsmen and in their ability to teach others these same skills. The statements concerning B'tzal'el and Oholi'av give us an exciting glimpse into what it looks like to be filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
Both the Torah and the prophets tell us what happens when we are filled with the Ruach HaKodesh. As is illustrated in Shemot 35, we are endowed with expert skill and ability to do HaShem's Will in practical matters. In addition, Ezekiel 36:27 says: "I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them." To sum up the matter, being filled with the Ruach HaKodesh means having an obedient heart toward the Holy One, blessed be He, and performing the tasks He has given us to do in a manner that is glorifying to Him.
When we speak of being filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, we often think of emotive expressions of worship and manifestations of the supernatural. Though these are legitimate signs, the real work of the Ruach begins when the music is silenced, the lights are dimmed, and everyone is dispersed to their respective homes and occupations. According to Scripture, the Spirit works in the hearts and the hands of each believer. Whether fixing a car, cooking a meal for one's family, doing homework, mending a garment, or balancing bank statements and checkbooks, the Ruach HaKodesh causes us to shine in the expertise He has given us. As it is written: "Now there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. Also there are different ways of serving, but it is the same Lord being served. And there are different modes of working, but it is the same God working them all in everyone." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) Like B'tzal'el and Oholi'av, let us faithfully use the skills and abilities the Ruach HaKodesh has given us.

Shalom uvracha,

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Parashah #21 Ki Tissa: "When You Take (lit. lift up)"
Exodus 30:11-34:35

In this week's Torah portion, Yisrael falls into idol worship even as Moshe receives instructions concerning the incense and holy anointing oil to be used in true worship of the Living G-d. The covenant that had been ratified back in Shemot 24 is barely forty days old, yet it is already broken. The people of Yisrael suffer harsh consequences for their breach of the covenant, but HaShem, ever merciful and gracious, provides a way for reconciliation. Moshe, the mediator between G-d and His people, intercedes for them and is heard. Furthermore, Moshe is blessed with a glimpse of the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He. In the midst of this reconciliation process, HaShem tells Moshe something mysterious.
Shemot 34:10 declares: "He said, "Here, I am making a covenant; in front of all your people I will do wonders such as have not been created anywhere on earth or in any nation. All the people around you will see the work of ADONAI. What I am going to do through you will be awesome!" What is it HaShem would do with Moshe that would be so wondrous? Perhaps a clue lies in verses 29-35 of this same chapter. In this particular passage, we learn that Moshe descends Mount Sinai with the radiance of G-d's glory shining from his face. At first, the people of Yisrael are afraid, but when Moshe calls to them, they draw near and speak with him. It then further elaborates that Moshe puts a veil on while speaking with the Yisraelim, but when he goes before HaShem, he removes the veil. Moshe's actions have much to teach us, but before we touch on this, let us dispel some misconceptions.
Some suggest that Moshe wore the veil over his face so the Yisraelim wouldn't be afraid to approach him. Indeed, this is the case at first, but Shemot 34:31-32 clearly states that their fear is assuaged. Others posit that, based on 2 Corinthians 3:13, Moshe wore the veil because he didn't want the Yisraelim to see the glory fading. However, Dr. Tim Hegg, in his teaching series "what's So New about the New Covenant?" observes that Moshe's actions are deliberate, and that he is teaching a principle not by words, but by deeds. This principle may help us understand the mystery of Shemot 34:10. The principle Moshe is teaching through the wearing of the veil is that the Torah and Mashiach Yeshua are inexorably linked. We can't have one without the other. If we reject Torah, we will not see the glory of the Mashiach, nor will we be able to know the qualities He must possess in order to discern the real Mashiach from the false one. Conversely, if we reject Mashiach Yeshua, we ultimately end up rejecting Torah because the goal of the Torah is to tell us about Him. This is the double-edged sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of G-d (Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12).
Notice that when Moshe comes out from before HaShem, he shows the Yisraelim that his face is still shining with the glory of G-d. Then, in view of all the people, he puts the veil back over his face (Exodus 34:34-35). Some seem to almost gloat over the observation that the Jewish people have a veil over their hearts when reading the Torah, preventing them from seeing Mashiach Yeshua of Whom Moshe wrote. What these same people don't realize is that Scripture teaches that all nations are shrouded under this same veil. The prophet, Isaiah, though, gives us good news when he says: "On this mountain ADONAI- Tzva'ot will make for all peoples a feast of rich food and superb wines, delicious, rich food and superb, elegant wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil which covers the face of all peoples, the veil enshrouding all the nations. He will swallow up death forever. ADONAI ELOHIM will wipe away the tears from every face, and he will remove from all the earth the disgrace his people suffer. For ADONAI has spoken. On that day they will say, "See! This is our G-d! We waited for him to save us. This is ADONAI; we put our hope in him. We are full of joy, so glad he saved us!"" (Isaiah 25:6-9) This prophecy will be fulfilled when Mashiach Yeshua returns. In the meantime, we don't have to wait for the veil to be removed from our hearts. As it is written: "``But,'' says the Torah, ``whenever someone turns to ADONAI, the veil is taken away.''" (2 Corinthians 3:16 CJB) Let us return to HaShem and His Torah in Mashiach Yeshua.

Shalom uvracha,

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