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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 April 2012


29-30 Acharei-mot-Kedoshim: "After the death"-"Holy (pl)"
Leviticus 16:1-20:27
This double portion opens with the sacrifices the high priest would offer on Yom Kippur to make atonement, and it closes with all the situations for which atonement is desperately needed. Sandwiched in between these aspects are details of how people who are atoned for and consecrated as holy should live and what they should avoid. There is one facet of the ceremonies taking place on Yom Kippur that is often overlooked, yet it teaches us both about our Mashiach and about us as believers. This detail is what the high priest would wear when coming into the Mishkan on this most solemn of days.
Vayikra 16:3-4 says: ""Here is how Aharon is to enter the Holy Place: with a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering. He is to put on the holy linen tunic, have the linen shorts next to his bare flesh, have the linen sash wrapped around him, and be wearing the linen turban-- they are the holy garments. He is to bathe his body in water and put them on." Notice that the high priest could not wear common street clothing when coming into the Presence of the Holy One, nor was he permitted to wear the high priestly regalia as outlined in Shemot 28 and Vayikra 8:7-9. He could only wear the linen garments prescribed above. This would make him indistinguishable from any of the other priests, and yet the high priest alone would be allowed to enter the Mishkan on Yom Kippur. The high priest's wearing white linen gives us a portrait of both the true humility of Mashiach Yeshua and the humility we as His followers should exhibit.

Concerning Mashiach Yeshua's coming to earth, Philippians 2:6-8 declares:
"Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when he appeared as a human being, he humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death - death on a stake as a criminal!" Linen is a symbol of righteousness and purity. (See, for instance, Revelation 19:8.) Even as the high priest could not wear common clothing when entering the Presence of G-d, so our L-rd did not sin or commit any iniquity. Conversely, even as the high priest also could not wear his finery on Yom Kippur, so our L-rd Yeshua did not glorify Himself. Both the high priest and our L-rd exhibit true humility in that they represent righteousness, looking different from that which is common or profane, yet they willingly lay aside any glory that would rightfully be theirs to claim. As it is with them, so it is with us.

True humility is knowing who we are in Mashiach Yeshua, with all the rights and responsibilities accompanying our station in Him. It is not making ourselves indistinguishable from the world around us or considering ourselves worthless (common clothing). Neither is it prematurely grasping for any glory or reward that may not be ours until we reach the world to Come (the priestly finery). Rather, humility in its simple beauty is acknowledging who G-d has made us to be in the Mashiach, what He has given us to use in His service, and living that faithful, righteous life He empowers us to live (white linen). As it is written: "… Further, all of you should clothe yourselves in humility toward one another, because God opposes the arrogant, but to the humble he gives grace. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the right time he may lift you up." (1 Peter 5:5b-6) Like the high priest, let us wear the spiritual linen of righteousness, purity, and humility.

Shalom uvracha,

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Parshiyot #27and #28 Tazria-Metzora: "She conceives" - "One with Tzara'at"
Leviticus 12:1-15:33
This double portion contains a plethora of details concerning conditions that would render a person ritually unclean and how such a person would be cleansed after healing. It is interesting to note that the Holy One, blessed be He, does not call on the physician to diagnose symptoms that would seem medical in nature on the surface. Rather, the priest figures prominently in this Torah portion, and it is by his word that someone or something is declared clean or unclean. Why would such a duty fall to the priest? The reasons are both physical and spiritual. Vayikra 15:31 states: ""‘In this way you will separate the people of Isra'el from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in a state of uncleanness for defiling my tabernacle which is there with them." The preceding passage deals with physical hygiene when coming in contact with those who are considered unclean due to discharges issuing from their bodies. It would be the priest's duty to teach the people of Yisrael how to conduct themselves in such matters. Modern medicine acknowledges the wisdom of avoiding contact with bodily fluids, as these are often the carriers of disease. Furthermore, the English proverb, "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is purported to have had its origins in the Talmud. Important as physical hygiene is, Vayikra 12-15 presents an even more important principle that is all too often neglected. That is the principle of spiritual hygiene.
The sages of blessed memory posit that the physical conditions rendering someone unclean often spring from spiritual causes. For instance, the mysterious condition of Tzara'at may be brought on by L'shon HaRa (the evil tongue or gossip and slander) (Numbers 12:1-15). Some situations delineated in this Torah portion, such as the bringing forth of children or when a woman is in nida (separation) may not be a direct result of personal sin, but the loss of blood is a result of that first sin committed in the Garden of Eden. Thus, we see that the physical and the spiritual are connected. This truth is embodied in the priest who would both examine the physical body and make atonement for the soul. Since the physical is sometimes a manifestation of the spiritual, let us examine what spiritual hygiene is and how to maintain it? As is so often the case, the physical can teach us about the spiritual.

Even as we have daily hygienic routines, so we have daily studying and application of G-d's Word and prayer to keep us clean and close to our Creator. Also, even as there are those seasonal cleanings of the home (i.e. spring cleaning), so the Mo'adim of HaShem afford us opportunities to take stock of our relationship with our L-RD and do spiritual "house cleaning." To continue this analogy, a good rule of thumb when dealing with food safety is, "When in doubt, throw it out." So it is with what we allow to enter our spirits through our eyes, ears, and minds. If we feel any reservation about anything we may be entertaining, perhaps that is the Ruach HaKodesh cautioning us to "throw it out." Spiritual hygiene may seem like a lot of work, but holiness and closeness to HaShem is worth every bit of effort. As it is written: "He gave himself up on our behalf in order to free us from all violation of Torah and purify for himself a people who would be his own, eager to do good." (Titus 2:14) Let us have clean hands and pure hearts (Psalm 15:1-5; 24:3-5).

Shalom uvracha,


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Parashah #26 Shemini: "Eighth"
Leviticus 9:1-11:45

This week's Torah portion addresses two themes: the dedication of the Mishkan, and the laws for kashrut. During the celebration of dedicating the Mishkan, the Glory of HaShem appears as fire from heaven, but two of the priests offer incense using unauthorized fire, resulting in tragedy. This record of tragedy in the midst of something that is supposed to be joyful gives us pause to reflect and learn.
Vayikra 10:1-3 says: "But Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aharon, each took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and offered unauthorized fire before ADONAI, something he had not ordered them to do. At this, fire came forth from the presence of ADONAI and consumed them, so that they died in the presence of ADONAI. Moshe said to Aharon, "This is what ADONAI said: ‘Through those who are near me I will be consecrated, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" Aharon kept silent." Though the command to use only fire from the altar of burnt offering for offering incense doesn't appear until Vayikra 16:12, we may safely say Aharon and his sons knew of this command before they were consecrated as priests. Furthermore, according to Shemot 30:7-8, only Aharon the high priest is to offer incense. Thus, we see that Nadav and Avihu breach holy protocol. Since they are priests, they are held to a higher standard than the congregation because they must safeguard that which is holy.
There is a lesson for us today as believer priests in Mashiach Yeshua. Scripture teaches us that incense is a symbol of prayer. Moreover, the root word from which the Hebrew word for incense derives (katar) implies the act of bonding. If incense symbolizes prayer, what does the fire that causes the incense to ascend represent? Fire symbolizes many things in Scripture. It is representative of judgment (Leviticus 10:2), the Glory and Presence of G-d (1 Kings 18:38), the Word of G-d (Jeremiah 20:9), and the Ruach HaKodesh (Acts 2:3), to name only a few examples. In the context of prayer, it represents pure, unbroken fellowship with the Holy One, blessed be He. This is why the fire used to offer incense had to come from the altar of burnt offering, not from any common source. (Thanks to rav Lohrberg for this observation.)

As believers, the fire used to burn the incense of prayer may also symbolize our kavanah or intention of the heart when we pray. Ya'akov (James) 4:1-3 says something very interesting about prayer. He says: "What is causing all the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it your desires battling inside you? You desire things and don't have them. You kill, and you are jealous, and you still can't get them. So you fight and quarrel. The reason you don't have is that you don't pray! Or you pray and don't receive, because you pray with the wrong motive, that of wanting to indulge your own desires."
We see, then, that our motives directly affect our prayers. Even as the fire that caused the incense to rise before the Throne of the Holy One, blessed be He, had to come from the altar, so our hearts must be in accord with His Will and Word when we pray. Thankfully, when we don't know how we should pray, both the Ruach HaKodesh and our L-rd Yeshua intercede for us (Romans 8:26-27; Hebrews 7:25-26). In concert with this, if we pray with hearts desiring His Will, causing that pure incense to rise before HaShem (Malachi 1:11), we can rest assured He will hear and answer us. As it is written: "This is the confidence we have in his presence: if we ask anything that accords with his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - then we know that we have what we have asked from him." (1 John 5:14-15)
Let us pray with the spirit and with the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15).

Shalom uvracha,

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