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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 2014

28

K'doshim Leviticus 19:1-20:27
Psalm 15

Only five verses in length, Psalm 15 is very clear about who may live in the Presence of HaShem. This seems to be one of king David’s favorite themes as it is also reflected in Psalms 24, 27, and 61. His poetry on this subject, however, is anything but ethereal.

Psalm 15:1-5 says: "[ADONAI], who can rest in your tent? Who can live on your holy mountain? Those who live a blameless life, who behave uprightly, who speak truth from their hearts and keep their tongues from slander; who never do harm to others or seek to discredit neighbors; who look with scorn on the vile, but honor those who fear [ADONAI]; who hold to an oath, no matter the cost; who refuse usury when they lend money and refuse a bribe to damage the innocent. Those who do these things never will be moved." Notice that king David doesn’t answer his question of who may live with HaShem by saying things like "those who pray so many hours a day," or "those who give so much money to charity," or even "those who hold ten thousand positions in their congregations." Rather, those who treat others with kindness and respect, and who walk in integrity will be worthy to dwell with the Holy One, blessed be He.

If we simply obey this Psalm’s instructions: not gossiping, not lending our money with interest, not bribing, and being faithful to our word, we would indeed be a beacon in the darkness. Although it is not expressly stated in this passage, there is one more quality binding all of these other attributes together, one everyone of us as believers desperately needs.

When looking closer at the Hebrew of this Psalm, we begin to see that the underlying quality of those worthy to dwell on HaShem’s Holy Hill is discernment. They speak the truth in their hearts (verse 2), and they don’t go about to find fault in those near to them (verse 3). Those worthy of scorn they scorn, but they honor (Hebrew "kaved") those who fear HaShem. In other words, they see behind the facade, and seek the truth of a matter. Before we congratulate ourselves too much, let’s take a closer look at how Psalm 15 affects our tastes in teaching.

In our modern day, we seem to be woefully lacking in discernment, not because it isn’t available to us through the Ruach HaKodesh, but because we choose not to avail ourselves of it. As we search the internet for the latest, greatest "truth," we get swept away by supposed teachers touting sensationalism rather than Scriptural wisdom. Consequently, this in turn often breeds gossip against other groups of people, the very thing those who wish to live in HaShem’s House avoid. If that isn’t bad enough, we listen as these "teachers" cajole us to give money, promising we will receive financial "blessing" over and above what we give. The more we give, the more we get. Might this be akin to lending to get usury, or worse yet, a bribe, somehow thinking we can pay HaShem to bless us? With these couple of examples, we see that if we would simply use some discernment, we would not deceive, nor would we be deceived. Our path would be smooth, and we wouldn’t be tossed about by the latest "teaching" trend. As it is written: "We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into him who is the head, the Messiah." (Ephesians 4:14-15) If we keep a level head in this world, we will have a prepared heart for the World to come.

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09

Acharei-mot Leviticus 16:1-18:30
Psalm 26
Shabbat HaGadol

Once again, we visit Psalm 26. Since this Torah portion and its accompanying Psalm fall on the Shabbat preceding Passover, (also known as Shabbat HaGadol or the "Great Sabbath"), verse 2 of this Psalm is a cry of the heart, albeit a challenging one.

Psalm 26:2 beseeches G-d to "Examine me, [ADONAI], test me, search my mind and heart." Before we shout "Amen!), let’s see what this is really saying in the Hebrew.

The Hebrew of this verse uses three different words for "examine," "test," and "search." The first root word, "bachan," means, "To scrutinize," or "to try," as in when gold is tried. The second root word, "nasa," is "To put to the test." Finally, the third root word, "Tzaraf," means "To smelt or refine." These terms are used when dealing with precious metals, which inevitably includes fire. If we’re honest, we quickly realize what a daunting request this is. Verse 3, however, softens things by reminding us why it is safe to submit ourselves to such scrutiny.

Verse 3 of Psalm 26 might be translated from Hebrew as follows: "Because your covenantal loving-kindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth." The word for "walked" is reflexive, having the idea of walking back and forth as in a military review or inspection. We learn from this the practice of letting HaShem examine us constantly, not just occasionally. We also learn that in order to "walk" in His truth, we must be as familiar with it as we would be with a well-trodden path. Furthermore, we learn a principle for how HaShem relates to us.

If we know someone genuinely loves and cares deeply for us, we’re more likely to receive correction from them than if we are uncertain of their affection or worse. Our Abba knows this. Yes, He loves us when we sin, but He also loves us too much to leave us that way. If he didn’t love us enough to change us, we would be valid in questioning the sincerity of His Love. As we approach this Passover season, purging the leaven from our homes, let us allow HaShem to purge the sin from our hearts. Though the thought of this might make us tremble with some trepidation in light of the above word study, we can rest in the assurance that everything He does, He does in love. As it is written: "If we would examine ourselves, we would not come under judgment. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined, so that we will not be condemned along with the world." (1 Corinthians 11:31-32) When it comes to spiritual matters, let us keep short accounts.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

 

 

 

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02

Metzora Leviticus 14:1-15:33
Psalm 120

In Psalm 106, we discussed how discontent can lead to a myriad of sins and rob us of experiencing the joy of the blessings HaShem gives us on a daily basis. This week’s Psalm introduces us to a g-dly discontent that leads to repentance, cleansing, and a new direction in life.

First in the Songs of Ascent sung by the Jewish people as they made pilgrimage from the four corners of the world up to Yerushalayim, Psalm 120 speaks volumes in its seven verses. Beginning with a cry to HaShem for help in verse 1, the composer of this song then bares his soul, confessing the sin from which he longs to be delivered.

Psalm 120:2-4 says: "Rescue me, [ADONAI], from lips that tell lies, from a tongue full of deceit. What has he in store for you, deceitful tongue? What more will he do to you? A warrior's sharp arrows, with red-hot coals from a broom tree." Notice that the sin he confesses is the one plaguing us the most: a deceitful tongue and evil speech. Interestingly, the title of this week’s Torah portion, "Metzora," sounds almost like the word "Motzira," which literally translated would be, "bringer of evil," referring specifically to evil speech. Due to this affinity, the sages of blessed memory have suggested that one of the sins worthy of contracting Tzara’at is evil speaking or gossip. This would also explain how a house might be rendered unclean. What is spoken and/or done within the walls of the home affect its sanctity.

After examining his own heart and repenting of lying lips and a deceitful tongue, the psalmist finds he must also repent of the company he has been keeping (verses 5-7). Only after the veil of unconfessed sin has been removed does he realize he has been dwelling in a foreign land for far too long. Despite his efforts to rectify his speech and speak peace to those around him, the psalmist comes to the all too painful realization that light and darkness cannot fellowship together (Amos 3:3; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Thus, his discontentment with himself and with his unholy surroundings prompts the psalmist to make a life-changing decision, leaving the familiar to begin his pilgrimage of holiness.

Like the psalmist, we are called to forsake spiritual mediocrity both in ourselves and in our surroundings. If we find ourselves uncomfortable in this world, it shouldn’t surprise us. This is the Ruach HaKodesh’s way of reminding us that we are really citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20-21), and ambassadors of Messiah Yeshua (2 Corinthians 5:20). As such, there are some radical decisions we, too, must make.

It is not enough to turn from something and leave. We must have a destiny toward which we strive and a Person toward Whom we turn. Whether we are lying down or rising up, at home or on a journey, let us remember who we are, adopted sons and daughters of the Most High, and let us behave as such in thought, word, and deed. Furthermore, let us ask the L-RD to reveal any areas where we have been lukewarm, and ask Him to show us what we may need to forsake in order to draw close to Him. As it is written: "Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them. Don't cause grief to G-d's [Ruach HaKodesh], for he has stamped you as his property until the day of final redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, violent assertiveness and slander, along with all spitefulness. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted; and forgive each other, just as in the Messiah G-d has also forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:29-32) Let us be ever mindful of who we are and Whose we are.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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