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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 March 2013

20

Tzav Leviticus 6:9-8:36
Haftarah Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23

This Haftarah is a shorter portion, but as it is often said, dynamite comes in small packages. Beginning with the Holy One proclaiming that He would rather have obedience than sacrifice (7:22-23), it ends with the solution to safeguard from unfaithfulness and disobedience. Jeremiah 9:22-23 says: "Here is what [ADONAI] says: "The wise man should not boast of his wisdom, the powerful should not boast of his power, the wealthy should not boast of his wealth; instead, let the boaster boast about this: that he understands and knows me- that I am [ADONAI], practicing grace, justice and righteousness in the land; for in these things I take pleasure," says [ADONAI]." The Hebrew in this passage is more telling than the English. The word for "boast" literally means "to praise oneself," and the word for "understands" carries the idea of being prudent, circumspect, or causing to consider. In other words, setting the L-RD always before us (Psalm 16:8) and keeping our eyes on Him will protect us from going astray and worshiping idols. Perhaps this seems like stating the obvious, but the enemy of our souls is very crafty in getting our focus off the Holy One, blessed be He, and turning innocent distractions into idols. It is as much of a temptation today to boast in one’s wisdom, riches, head knowledge, or even spiritual prowess as when the prophet Jeremiah penned these words so long ago. Whatever we tend to boast about, let us take a step back, be prudent, and consider the One Who is most worthy of our praise and what is worth boasting about. If we do, not only will we avoid setting up the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pretentions of life (1 John 2:16) as idols in our hearts, but we will know true fulfillment beyond what any amount of self boasting can offer. As it is written: "Nevertheless, don't be glad that the spirits submit to you; be glad that your names have been recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:20) Let us boast about the L-RD and all He has done for us (Psalm 34:2-3).

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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11

Vayikra Leviticus 1:1-6:7
Haftarah Isaiah 43:21-44:23

This Haftarah highlights the principle that the acceptability of the offerings found in the accompanying Torah portion always depends on the heart of the presenter. It further presents the overarching contrast between people who form their gods and the True, Living G-d Who has formed His people. The prophet Isaiah takes pains to elaborate on the sheer senselessness of those who form lifeless idols from the very wood that helps to sustain their own lives. Yet the Haftarah opens with a provoking statement which should cause us alarm. Isaiah 43:22-24 laments: "But you haven't called on me, Ya'akov; because you have grown weary of me, Isra'el. You have not brought me sheep for your burnt offerings, you have not honored me with your sacrifices. I didn't burden you by requiring grain offerings. or weary you by demanding frankincense. You have not spent money to buy me sweet cane or filled me with the fat of your sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your crimes." Here, HaShem employs the poignant image of the Lover being spurned by His beloved. Worse yet, the very people meant to embody praise and glory for Him among the idolatrous nations have instead been wearisome to Him with their sins, adding insult to injury. (See also Jeremiah 2:1-37.)

Never giving up on Yisrael, though, HaShem calls them back to the purpose for their very existence by pleading: "Keep these matters in mind, Ya'akov, for you, Isra'el, are my servant. I formed you, you are my own servant; Isra'el, don't forget me. Like a thick cloud, I wipe away your offenses; like a cloud, your sins. Come back to me, for I have redeemed you." (Isaiah 44:21-22) This same call echoes through the millennia and pleads with us today. Have we grown weary of HaShem, doing only the minimum for maintaining our relationship with Him? How do we know whether we have left our First Love? One big symptom is that, like Yisrael, we will run after a myriad of things trying to fill the void only HaShem can fill. We, too, are called to be His witnesses among deceived, idolatrous people, and if we pursue anything else, we will forever come up empty and dissatisfied.

Let us return to our First Love. When we do, we will find He is everything we’ve been searching for all our lives. As it is written: "But I have this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Therefore, remember where you were before you fell, turn from this sin, and do what you used to do before. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your [menorah] from its place- if you don't turn from your sin!" (Revelation 2:4-5) Our true calling is to love HaShem, to walk in His ways, and to cleave to Him (Deuteronomy 10:12).

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

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07

Vayechel/Pekudei Exodus 35:1-40:38
Haftarah 1 Kings 7:51-8:21

The Torah and Haftarah portions for this week contain the parallel theme of preparing for worship. The accoutrements of the Mishkan and Temple respectively are arranged according to the specifications laid out in Exodus 25-31. Only when all is put in order and consecrated for holy service does the Sh’chinah come down and fill the sanctuary. What was true then is true now. 1 Kings 8:1-9 details how the people of Yisrael assemble to dedicate the Temple and all its appertinences. It further stresses that the cohanim and Levi’im bring up the Ark of the Covenant, the tent of meeting, and the other instruments of divine service. Verses 10-11 then report: "When the [cohanim] came out of the Holy Place, the cloud filled the house of [ADONAI], so that, because of the cloud, the [cohanim] could not stand up to perform their service; for the glory of [ADONAI] filled the house of [ADONAI]." Because the people take the time to make double sure everything is exactly as it should be according to G-d’s Word, they experience an incredible encounter with the Holy One, blessed be He, as His Glory descends to fill the house made by their mortal hands. As always, this scenario holds a lesson for us today. Worship is work, and work is worship. In Hebrew, the word "avoda" is translated both ways. Since we are the house of HaShem, do we take the time to prepare His house (i.e. our hearts) before expecting His Presence to fill us? Do we make sure everything is in order as the Ruach HaKodesh gives us the ability and discernment, or do we crash land into times of worship, hoping for the best? If we complain we aren’t experiencing His Presence during Shabbat services or other holy convocations, perhaps we need to make double sure everything is the way He wants it to be in our hearts so He can feel at home and fill us to overflowing. He longs to fill us far more than we long for Him to fill us. Like preparing for a loved one’s return, let us make sure our L-RD’s spiritual residence is clean and arranged just right. As it is written: "Therefore, my dear friends, since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that can defile either body or spirit, and strive to be completely holy, out of reverence for G-d." (2 Corinthians 7:1) Let us prepare ourselves, expectantly anticipating HaShem’s Presence.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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