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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 May 2010


This week's Torah portion contains many episodes during Yisrael's journey toward the Promised Land, but two peculiar episodes stand out in my mind. The first episode, found in B'midbar 8:5-26, relates the sanctification of the Levi'im for HaShem and for the priests. The second episode is found in B'midbar 11:24-29 when HaShem takes some of His Spirit that rests on Moshe and puts it on the seventy elders of Yisreal, including two elders who, for some reason don't gather with the others around the Tabernacle. These episodes seem unrelated, but they bring to light a very familiar concept, that of being born again.

B'midbar 8:5-16 details the rituals that the Levi'im must go through in order to enter HaShem's service. First, they are to be sprinkled with water, shave off every bit of hair, and wash their clothes. Then, they are to draw near to the Tabernacle, where the children of Yisrael will present them as a wave offering to HaShem, and the Levi'im, in turn, will present two bolls, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. The strange part of this process is the command to shave off all the hair, rendering the Levi'im bald as babies. This reminds me of 2 Kings 5 where Na’aman the Syrian is healed of leprosy. The text informs us that when he was healed, his flesh became like that of a little child (verse 14). Our L-RD Yeshua said: “Yes! I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of G-d like a child will not enter it!”” (Mark 10:15) In B'midbar 11:29, when two of the elders of Yisrael began to prophesy in the camp, and Yehoshua pleads for Moshe to forbid them from doing this, Moshe expresses the earnest wish that all of G-d's people had His Spirit in them and that they all had the ability to prophesy. Both the Levi'im and the seventy elders of Yisrael had experienced something that the majority of the community had not. They had offered themselves completely to G-d; they had been cleansed and purified, and they had received the infilling of His Spirit. We could be so bold as to say they were born again. When speaking to Nakdimon, our L-RD Yeshua stated: “Yes, indeed, I tell you that unless a person is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of G-d.” (John 3:5) Like the Levi'im, we who are in Messiah Yeshua are a wave offering to HaShem (Romans 12:1), and like the elders of Yisrael, we need to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). As it is written: “Or don't you know that your body is a temple for the Ruach HaKodesh who lives inside you, whom you received from God? The fact is, you don't belong to yourselves; for you were bought at a price. So use your bodies to glorify God.” (1Co 6:19-20)

Shalom uv’racha,

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The title of this week's Torah portion, "Naso," is usually translated as "Take a census." However, the Hebrew word "Naso" implies more than simply taking a census. A few definitions of this word are: "To lift up," "to bear," or "to be exalted." (See Strong's Concordance number 05375.) This brings us to the first of three themes contained in this parashah.

The first theme in this week's portion is that of being lifted up. In Hebrew, the first phrase of Naso is literally, "Lift up the head of the sons of Gershon …" This passage proceeds to delineate the responsibilities of the families of both the Gershonites and the Merarites pertaining to the tabernacle's coverings, sockets, and boards. . The wording of this first sentence teaches us that when we are called into service for HaShem, we are lifted from the mundane to the holy, and we are exalted from the temporal to the eternal. Every male of the tribe of Levi who was old enough to enter into service was counted; no one was commanded to be a spectator. Lest one think that the ladies were excluded, think again. See, for instance, Exodus 38:8, where we find that Betzal'el made the laver and it's base of the bronze from the mirrors of the women who assem-bled at the door of the tent of meeting. The Hebrew of Sh’mot (Exodus) 38:8 suggests more than that they simply gathered together; they mustered forth as to battle (See Strong's number 06633).

Whether the task of bearing burdens or offering gifts, being in G-d's service is truly a high honor.

The second theme addressed in Naso is that of equality. (Please note that equality does not mean sameness, as seen in the differing responsibilities of the Levite families.) Four passages bring this to light. First, B'midbar (Numbers) 5:5-8 sets forth the statutes for paying restitution. the ruling to repay the principle with twenty percent interest and to offer a ram for atonement applies to all, whether rich or poor, whether man or woman. In a day when lawsuits are all too popular and settlements seem to be awarded according to the emotional reactions of a jury, it is refreshing to know that our G-d cares even about these details of life. The second passage, albeit peculiar, shows us the judicial equality between a man and his wife. In B'midbar (Numbers) 5:11-31, HaShem instructs His people on how to deal with a husband's accusation of adultery against his wife. Unlike in the surrounding nations, the husband was not permitted to misuse or abuse his wife in any way; rather, he was to bring her before the cohen (priest) who would employ a specific judicial procedure to determine innocence or guilt. The third passage, and perhaps one of the most beloved passages in Torah, is found in B'midbar (Numbers) 6:22-26. Known as Birkat Kohanim (the priestly blessing), this blessing is directly from the heart of HaShem. It is unconditional and is conferred upon all the people of Yisrael. Finally, the fourth passage is found in B'midbar (Numbers) 7. Upon the dedication of the altar, each tribe of Yisrael presents the exact same gifts, even down to the exact same weights and measures. This teaches us that every tribe is on equal standing before the Holy One, blessed be He. As it is written: “For ADONAI your G-d is G-d of gods and L-rd of lords, the great, mighty and awesome G-d, who has no favorites and accepts no bribes.” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 10:17.

Finally, the third theme we see in Naso is that those in authority are held accountable for those under their charge. For Instance, in B'midbar (Numbers) 5:15, 18, and 31, the offering of jealousy was presented without oil because it was offered for the purpose of remembering guilt, and the woman's hair was uncovered or unbound, signifying that if she had sinned, it was not under the auspices of her husband. Also, in B'midbar (Numbers) 7, each head of the tribes of Yisrael presented one bull, one ram, and one lamb of the first year for a burnt offering. This is parallel to the hierarchy of sin offerings as given in Vayikra (Leviticus) 4. Thus, the head of each tribe represented each and every member of his tribe and the burnt offering was given on behalf of the entire tribe. Two passages from the B'rit Chadashah come to mind. First, Ya'akov admonishes us: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, since you know that we will be judged more severely.” Ya'akov (James) 3:1 Also, Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 13:17 states: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your lives, as people who will have to render an account. So make it a task of joy for them, not one of groaning; for that is of no advantage to you.” To conclude, Naso teaches us that we are exalted to serve, called to a life of equity, and admonished to remember that those in authority over us, especially in the Body of Messiah, look out for our welfare. They have great responsibility for us, so let us make their job an easy and joyful one.

Shalom uv’racha,

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This week's Torah portion, entitled "In the Wilderness," may seem like a difficult passage to read at first glance. Containing at least three censuses, details on how and where the children of Yisrael should encamp, and instructions for which Levites should transport the holy furniture of the Sanctuary and how, this portion reads like a phone book. However, upon further reflection, we find that HaShem gives us some very important principles concerning the purpose of being in the wilderness and how we should conduct ourselves when we find ourselves there.

When we think of being in the wilderness, we usually think of being in a place of discipline or even chastisement. Finding ourselves there, we tend to believe that we've been taken to the proverbial "woodshed," and we wonder what we've done wrong. though the wilderness can take on these connotations as we shall see in upcoming portions, the children of Yisrael weren't under chastisement in this point of history. Here, they were in the wilderness for the purpose of preparation and organization as seen in chapters one and two of B'midbar, and so it is with us. Even our L-RD and Master, Yeshua, was prepared for His mission by spending time in the wilderness (see Matityahu 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).

When we're in the wilderness, there are some things to keep in mind. First, we see through the double recording of the numbers of those of the children of Yisrael who were able to go to war that HaShem is ever watchful over His people, especially in the wilderness. Second, on closer consideration of how the divisions of Yisrael were arranged, we see the principle that we should protect those weaker than we. In B'midbar chapter two, we see that the larger divisions of Y'hudah and Dan were at the head and behind the other divisions respectively. This offered protection for the smaller tribes in the event of battle. In Galatians 6:2, Rav Sha'ul instructs us: “Bear one another's burdens – in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah's true meaning, which the Messiah upholds.”

Finally, the wilderness teaches us a principle which we all too often overlook for the sake of convenience; that is, our G-d is a G-d of order. It is crucial for us to learn what His order is and abide by it. To do otherwise could be dangerous or even fatal. (See, for instance, B'midbar 1:51; 3:10, 38; 4:15, 19-20.) If we abide by HaShem's order of living and help our brothers and sisters to do the same, then the wilderness, though trying, can be a place of revelation and blessing.
Shalom uvracha,
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