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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 April 2013

22

Emor Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Haftarah Ezekiel 44:15-31

This Haftarah details how the cohanim descended from Tzadok, will be the only priestly line permitted to minister before HaShem in His sanctuary when the Temple is rebuilt. It further elaborates on their dress while serving, who they may marry, and even what hairdo is kosher for them. Yes, HaShem cares about such minutiae concerning those who draw near to Him. That being said, the descendants of Tzadok give silent witness to what it really means to persevere. Ezekiel 44:15-16 says: "'However, the [cohanim], who are [L'vi'im] and descendants of Tzadok, who took care of my sanctuary when the people of Isra'el went astray from me- they are the ones who will approach me and serve me; it is they who will attend me and offer me the fat and the blood,' says [Adonai ELOHIM]. 'They will enter my sanctuary, approach my table to minister to me and perform my service." To give a little historical background, Tzadok is descended from El’azar, Aharon’s third son. He is known for his loyalty both to kings David and Shlomo. His descendants follow in his footsteps as they show loyalty to HaShem even when their fellow cohanim and L’vi’im forsake Him to serve idols (Ezekiel 44:10-14). One price for such unswerving loyalty is that they risk starvation since their only sustenance is the offerings made by fire to HaShem which apparently waned as the people fell into idolatry (see 2 Chronicles 31:10). It is no wonder that HaShem, blessed be He, holds this particular priestly family as especially dear. These faithful cohanim are still scattered throughout the diaspora to this day, waiting for the honor and promises set forth in this week’s Haftarah to be conferred upon them. Their patience and persistence are both challenging and encouraging. How faithfully and loyally are we willing to serve HaShem? Keep in mind that one of the reasons why the other priestly families may have switched allegiance is because it would put food on their tables. Are we willing, like the sons of Tzadok, to suffer loss if need be for our L-RD? These questions can only be answered in each heart during quiet communion with the Ruach HaKodesh. As all faithful cohanim, the cohanim descended from Tzadok also teach us about HaShem. HaShem remembers our service. He remembers the opportunities we turn down so we might be free to honor His mo’adim. He remembers the times we refused to participate in activities that wouldn’t be glorifying to His Name even when others do and seem to prosper. He remembers the countless, thankless tasks of service we do while others run after seemingly more profitable ventures. He remembers the long hours of counseling those who may or may not be listening, the prayers prayed even though an answer doesn’t seem to be forthcoming, the quiet deeds done with no fanfare. HaShem is faithful to reward Tzadok, and He will remember us as well. As it is written: "Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life. So let us not grow weary of doing what is good; for if we don't give up, we will in due time reap the harvest." (Galatians 6:8-9) Like the sons of Tzadok, let us persist tenaciously in our devotion to HaShem.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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17

Acharei-Mot/Kedoshim Leviticus 16:1-20:27
Haftarah Amos 9:7-15 (Ashkenazi); Ezekiel 20:2-20 (Sephardi)

Once in a while, the Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions differ in assigning the Haftarah. In both Haftarot for this double Torah portion, the subject of Yisrael’s rebellion against HaShem comes to the forefront. However, Amos 9:7-15 is both eerie and encouraging in its prophetic significance. Amos 9:7-10 records HaShem’s declaration that His people are not exempt from discipline. Verses 9-10 further elaborate that He would shake the house of Yisrael among the goyim (nations) as one shakes grain through a sieve. The grain would be preserved, but those who assume evil would not overtake them would die by the sword. To our sorrow, we have seen a fulfillment of this passage during the Holocaust. The Jewish people have been sifted as wheat. Some thought evil would not touch them because they considered themselves Germans who just happened to be Jewish. Others outright betrayed their brothers and sisters in the hope that they would be spared, yet they met the same fate the ones they betrayed met. It is no coincidence that this passage is read around the time of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust remembrance day). The rest of the Haftarah, though, gives us good news and hope for restoration and new beginnings. Amos 9:11-15 gives specific Messianic promises; namely, the restoration of the sukkah of David, the supernatural fruitfulness of the land of Yisrael, and the permanent possession of that land by the Jewish people. We have been privileged to see the first flowering of these prophecies, but they have yet to come to complete fruition. If one part of a prophecy comes to pass, we can be assured that the rest will come to pass as well. The purpose of this or any other prophecy isn’t simply to predict the future, but it also serves to teach us how to live in the here and now.
When considering turbulent times which may be on the horizon, we tend to go to extremes, and either position is dangerous. Some think that evil won’t affect us because we’re Americans who just happen to be believers, or we’re putting all our stock in the catching away of the Body of Messiah before the Great Tribulation. Others of us consider fleeing to the mountains and storing food enough to last a century, thinking that will safeguard us from the troubles to come. Like Yisrael in Amos 9:10, we rely on our own wisdom, trying to figure out things on our own. It didn’t work for them and it won’t work for us. The solution is to make HaShem and Him alone our Refuge, being faithful to Him every day He gives us, whether it brings us trouble or not. As it is written: "However, the Day of the Lord will come "like a thief." On that Day the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up. Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives, as you wait for the Day of God and work to hasten its coming. That Day will bring on the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt from the heat; but we, following along with his promise, wait for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will be at home." (2 peter 3:10-13) Let us look to Messiah Yeshua, about Whom Amos wrote (9:11-15), for true hope, protection, and restoration.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

 

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08

Tazria/Metzora Leviticus 12:1-15:33
Haftarah 2 Kings 7:3-20

In this Haftarah, Samaria, one of the most idolatrous cities in the northern kingdom of Yisrael, is given temporary relief from severe famine. This happens in such a way, though, that the only one who gets glory is HaShem, Who provides the respite from the dearth. Despite Yisrael’s afore-mentioned idolatry and a paranoid king who makes doubting Thomas look like a hero of faith, HaShem still fights for His people and brings deliverance. Fascinatingly, He uses the most unlikely of people to bring it about. According to 2 Kings 7:3-10, four men with tzara’at who are outcasts of society and despairing of life, suddenly become heroes and save a city from starvation. Their heroism, however, is born of treachery as they seek to surrender to the Aramean army besieging the city. When they discover that the army has fled, they take advantage of the situation, eating, drinking, and hiding gold and silver. Only after they have raided a second tend to they realize the responsibility that has just fallen on their shoulders. Verses 9-10 record: "But finally they said to each other, "What we are doing is wrong. At a time of good news like this, we shouldn't keep it to ourselves. If we wait even till morning, we will earn only punishment; so come on, let's go and tell the king's household." So they came and shouted to the gatekeepers of the city and told them the news: "We went to the camp of Aram, and no one was there, no human voice- just the horses and donkeys tied up, and the tents left in place."" These men do the right thing only because it’s the right thing to do. They neither expect nor receive any reward for their actions even though so many lives are saved. We don’t even know their names. Despite their tzara’at or their character flaws, these men are simply servants of the Most High, doing what needs to be done, then disappearing into the shadows of history.

Why do we obey HaShem? Are we looking for some return for our obedience, or do we obey Him simply because He’s worthy? True, Scripture does promise various crowns and rewards, but these are for our encouragement, not our motivation. Let us be true servants, doing what needs doing simply because it needs to be done and it is the task our Master has put before us. As it is written: "If one of you has a slave tending the sheep or plowing, when he comes back from the field, will you say to him, 'Come along now, sit down and eat'? No, you'll say, 'Get my supper ready, dress for work, and serve me until I have finished eating and drinking; after that, you may eat and drink.' Does he thank the slave because he did what he was told to do? No! It's the same with you- when you have done everything you were told to do, you should be saying, 'We're just ordinary slaves, we have only done our duty.'"" (Luke 17:7-10) Humble obedience, expecting nothing in return, is the greatest expression of faith.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah
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03

Shemini Leviticus 9:1-11:47
Haftarah 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17

This Haftarah strongly parallels Leviticus 9-10, where we read of Nadav and Abihu’s demise because they offer alien fire before HaShem. In the Haftarah, king David attempts to bring the Ark into Jerusalem, but he, too, does this in a manner contrary to Torah and is witness to the fatal consequences of disobedience. Upon Uza’s death (2 Samuel 6:6-9), king David seemingly does something even more unthinkable than what he had already done. According to 2 Samuel 6:10, he takes the holy Ark to the house of ‘Oved-Edom, a Gittite, a Philistine. (For more on the Gittites, see
http://bibleencyclopedia.com/gittites.htm.) Whereas HaShem is angry when Uza touches the Ark to prevent it from falling, He is the most gracious of guests with ‘Oved-Edom, blessing his household to such a degree that king David can’t help but notice (6:11-12). Who is this ‘Oved-Edom, and what can he teach us? ‘Oved-Edom seems to be a mystery wrapped in an enigma. According to the passage mentioned above and 1 Chronicles 13:13, he is of non-Jewish extraction, but according to 1 Chronicles 15:18 and 21, he is counted among the Levi’im as a musician and gatekeeper. (See also 1 Chronicles 15:24; 26:4, 8, and 15). At first blush, it would seem as if Scripture is speaking of two different people bearing the same name, but 1 Chronicles 15:25 refers back to 2 Samuel 6:12 when it says: "So David, the leaders of Isra'el and the commanders over thousands went to bring up the ark for the covenant of [ADONAI] out from the house of 'Oved-Edom with joy." Further, 1 Chronicles 26:4-5 states explicitly that G-d had blessed ‘Oved-Edom, resulting in eight sons. If we string these pearls of Scripture together, we see a picture emerge of a gentile who is not only grafted into Yisrael, but one who is adopted into the family of Levi and given a place of honor in the Temple service as musician and gatekeeper. Once again, we see that HaShem looks on the heart, and bringing in people from the nations is not solely a Brit Chadasha concept. The Tanakh is full of examples of people from the nations being brought into the sheepfold of Yisrael. (See, for instance, 2 Samuel 15:18-22.) ‘Oved-Edom’s story is somewhat hidden, but as with every treasure, a little digging brings up things more precious than fine gold and sweeter than honey from the honeycomb (Psalm 19:11). We learn a number of important lessons from ‘Oved-Edom’s history. First, we learn that if we take the time to investigate and study, we will find amazing truths beyond our imagining. Second, we learn that HaShem honors those who honor Him, no matter their origins (1 Samuel 2:30). Third, ‘Oved-Edom is not a second-class citizen of Yisrael, but is adopted into the very tribe dedicated to minister to HaShem. What ‘Oved-Edom exemplifies is available to each one of us if we cleave to HaShem and His ways with all our being (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 10:12-13). As it is written: "But, as the [Tanakh] says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no one's heart has imagined all the things that G-d has prepared for those who love him."" (1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:3). Like ‘Oved-Edom, let us love and honor HaShem, taking Him seriously, embracing His people, and living His way.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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