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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 2011


As we consider this week's Torah portion, it may seem a bit overwhelming. Containing the remaining census of the Levi'im and their responsibilities, as well as commandments relating to restitution, the vow of a nazir (nazarite), and the dedication of the altar, this passage is ponderous in nature. However, there is one golden nugget which further elucidates the theme of holiness we have been studying for the past weeks. In B'midbar 7:7-8, we learn that two tribes of Levi received wagons to help in their service of transporting the boards, posts, and cloths of the Mishkan. Verse 9, however, informs us that the tribe of the Kohathites did not receive any wagons because their portage was that of the sanctuary, and they carried everything on their shoulders. This may seem like a trivial detail, but when we consider this in the light of our calling in Messiah, it gives us a practical picture of what HaShem wants us to do while we are here in this world. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19, our bodies are the temple of the Ruach HaKodesh. Like the Kohathites, we are responsible for transporting the holy things of G-d on our shoulders, as it were. This shows us that sharing the Good News of Redemption is most effective face to face. Though sharing the Good News via television, internet, or any other mass communication venue is laudable, it is not comparable to the affect a follower of Messiah has when he/she personally touches the heart and life of one who is lost. It is in the arena of one-on-one interaction that Messiah Yeshua is clearly seen and lives are changed. As we live our daily lives wherever HaShem has placed us, let us remember that we bear His holiness, and let us share His light with as many people as He grants us the opportunity to influence.
As it is written: "Yeshua came and talked with them. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age."" (Matthew 28:18-20)

Shalom uvracha,

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Once again, we are in the wilderness with the children of Yisrael as we begin the book of B'midbar (Numbers.) Interestingly, the motif of holiness is continued from Vayikra, albeit in a different manner. We progress from the thought of what holiness is and how we should live as holy people to the concept that holiness is something to be safeguarded.
In B'midbar 2, the Yisraelim are instructed to camp around the Mishkan (Tabernacle) at a distance, but in B'midbar 3, we see that the Levi'im are to encamp closer to the Tabernacle, surrounding it. The command that the Levi'im were to "keep the charge" of the Tabernacle is repeated numerous times throughout B'midbar 3. In Hebrew, both the words "keep: and "charge" come from the root "shamar," which means "to guard." Hence, the Levi'im were to guard the holy sanctuary and everything in it.
Though we do not presently have a Tabernacle or Temple, the concept of guarding or preserving the holy is still applicable today. In fact, it is an art we have lost and must rediscover.When we come before the Holy One, blessed be He, to worship Him, do we consider that we, too, must guard the holy? This not only encompasses the condition of our hearts, but it also includes our appearance and behavior. When we enter into our time of prayer privately, or when we gather in the building HaShem has provided in which to worship Him, do we treat such moments as sacred, or do we treat them casually, or worse, flippantly? We know that a building is a building it is not the Temple or the Tabernacle, but how we appear and behave in our worship facilities is a reflection on how we view the Holy One, blessed be He. To give an example, in rabbinic thought, the Shabbat is compared to a queen or a bride. Thus, when dressing for Shabbat, we are advised to wear clothing appropriate for meeting a bride and Groom or a King and queen.
Furthermore, Psalm 29:1-2 says: "A psalm of David: Give ADONAI his due, you who are godly; give ADONAI his due of glory and strength; give ADONAI the glory due his name; worship ADONAI in holy splendor." The word for "splendor" is "hadar," which refers to holy adornment (See Strong's number 01927.) To give a litmus test, how would we dress and behave if we were meeting the president of the United States or some other dignitary? How much more should we come before the King of kings, the L-RD of lords, the Holy One, blessed be He, with our very best? I realize this only scratches the surface of what it means to safeguard the sacred, but as our L-rd Yeshua said: "… Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." (Mr 4:24-25 AV) In other words, as we obey, more understanding will be granted to us. As it is written: "Therefore, it is my wish that when the men pray, no matter where, they should lift up hands that are holy - they should not become angry or get into arguments." "Likewise, the women, when they pray, should be dressed modestly and sensibly in respectable attire, not with elaborate hairstyles and gold jewelry, or pearls, or expensive clothes. Rather, they should adorn themselves with what is appropriate for women who claim to be worshipping G-d, namely, good deeds." (1Ti 2:8-10 CJB)

Shalom uvracha,

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This week's Torah portion contains both the blessings for walking in HaShem's statutes and the consequences for forsaking Him and His covenant. It concludes with stipulations governing the dedication to the L-RD of a house, field, no sacrificial animal, and persons. In the midst of all of this, we see the grace of G-d, and we see an essential principle of true repentance.
Vayikra 26:40-45 says: "If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her Sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the L-RD their G-d. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their G-d: I am the L-RD." (AV) The context of this passage is that HaShem has laid out in graphic terms what would befall His people if they forsook Him and broke His covenant. The punishment would begin with failing health and famine, and would culminate in their captivity in the lands of their enemies.Yet in the midst of this, the promise of healing and restoration was offered if they would repent. the beauty of the above-quoted passage is that HaShem gives us a detailed explanation of what He is looking for in true repentance.
Vayikra 26:40 states that, first, confession of sin is needed as part of the process of repentance. This includes both individual confession and corporate confession, hence, the condition that His people confess the sins of their fathers as well as their own iniquities. Second, verse 41 stipulates they must recognize that whatever consequences they are suffering as a result of sin are put upon them by their G-d. In other words, they are being chastened. Finally, the second half of verse 41 says that if their hearts are humbled and they accept their punishment, HaShem will remember His covenant and begin to restore them to Himself and to their land. It is important to note that true repentance is not simply changing one's mind or saying that one is sorry that he/she has sinned. Repentance is turning from sin and turning to G-d. According to this passage, though, it also includes recognizing our Abba is chastening us for disobeying Him. This admission that we are wrong, and whatever we are suffering as a result of sin is our own doing is the humility and circumcision of heart He is looking for. When this happens, we can know for certain that our Heavenly Abba hears us and will begin to restore us as found in Vayikra 26:42-45. As it is written: "Now, all discipline, while it is happening, does indeed seem painful, not enjoyable; but for those who have been trained by it, it later produces its peaceful fruit, which is righteousness. So, strengthen your drooping arms, and steady your tottering knees; and make a level path for your feet; so that what has been injured will not get wrenched out of joint but rather will be healed." (Heb 12:11-13 CJB)

Shalom uvracha,

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This week's Torah portion is all about how we should interact with each other financially. Delineating the terms of the sh'mita (the seventh year rest for the land) and the yovel (the jubilee year), this passage deals with the calculations for buying and selling property in light of these Sabbath years, giving the land rest, and the stipulations for indentured servant hood and debt forgiveness. Lest one think that the concept of indentured servant hood and debt forgiveness are antiquated, we shall endeavor to take a closer look at how Scripture tells us to deal with indebtedness to our brother or sister, and we will see that if we would only do things G-d's way, our economy wouldn't be in the sad state it is in today.
In Vayikra 25:14-18, HaShem stipulates the conditions for selling land in Yisrael. In short, the price of land was to be calculated according to the harvests it would yield from the moment of sale until the yovel, when the land would return to its original owner. The sale of land was not to be perpetual. The only thing that could be sold outright would be a house within a walled city, and that would only be on condition that it hadn't been redeemed within a year after the sale (verses 29-31). Moreover, verses 25-28 state that if someone has fallen into poverty and sold part of his land, either he or his relative could redeem the land back at any time, the price of redemption to be determined according to the time left until the yovel. In addition, verses 35-43 state that if someone has become so poor that he enters into indentured servant hood, he is to be treated as an employee, not a slave, and whoever he works for must not lend to him with interest. A few observations on these rulings are in order.
First, notice that this Torah portion refers to anyone who falls into poverty and needs financial help as our "brother." This signifies that, in the body of Messiah, we are responsible to take care of our poor. Neither the federal government, nor the state, any city or municipality, or any other secular organization is responsible to assist those who are poor among us. It is our responsibility to look out for each other.
Second, if we find ourselves in debt, we should do everything we can to get out of debt, even if that means bartering services in lieu of payment. Notice that our portion doesn't condone simply getting a handout and continuing on our merry way back into debt. Finally, with all this talk of buying, selling, and staying out of debt, Vayikra 25:23 and 55 remind us of a sobering reality: Nothing in this world is truly ours. We are strangers sojourning with our G-d in His possession. To be specific, Yisrael is His land, and wherever we live, we are His servants. Therefore, since we are servants of the Most High, let us flee bondage of any kind, financial or otherwise, so that we may be free to serve our G-d and each other as He has commanded. As it is written: "The wicked borrows and doesn't repay, but the righteous is generous and gives." (Ps 37:21)

Shalom uvracha,

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This week's Torah portion contains requirements by which the priests must abide, the Biblical calendar delineating the feasts and festivals of HaShem, and a precedent for what befalls one who uses G-d's Name in a curse. Needless to say, a tome could be written on this portion alone. However, in studying the aspects of the priesthood as found in Vayikra 21, we see two particular truths that have direct bearing on us as believers in Messiah Yeshua.
First, Vayikra 21:13-15 states that the high priest must not marry just any woman; she must be a virgin of the priestly line. In Brit Chadasha language, he must not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). Perhaps one reason for these qualifications for a perspective bride of a high priest is that she would have to exemplify a holy lifestyle.
Furthermore, as the high priest's help mete (B'reishit 2:18), she would have to be familiar with priestly duties and obligations. As believers who are espoused to the Messiah, the high priest forever after the order of Malki-Tzedek, we, too, are called to live a holy and pure lifestyle.
Dallying with backsliding into sin or putting anything or anyone before Messiah in our lives is not an option for us. In addition, since our Messiah will not be unequally yoked, it would behoove us to become as familiar with His Torah as possible. Since we are betrothed to the living Torah, shouldn't we truly know and live the written Torah?
Second, Vayikra 21:16-23 stipulates who is qualified to be a priest and approach the altar, and what disqualifies a descendant of Aharon from doing so. In short, if one of Aharon's descendants has any kind of physical blemish, he may eat of the most holy things, but he may not become a priest. As believers, we all too often carry scars and blemishes inflicted on us by others or by life's circumstances. However, if we wish to serve the L-RD in a way that is pleasing to His Heart, we must let Him heal our hurts; we cannot hold onto them or let them hinder our growth. If we keep these truths in mind and endeavor to walk in them, we will experience the exquisite joy of drawing near to the Holy One, blessed be He, knowing that He in turn will draw near to us. As it is written: "So, brothers, we have confidence to use the way into the Holiest Place opened by the blood of Yeshua. He inaugurated it for us as a new and living way through the parokhet, by means of his flesh. We also have a great cohen over G-d's household. Therefore, let us approach the Holiest Place with a sincere heart, in the full assurance that comes from trusting - with our hearts sprinkled clean from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb 10:19-22)

Shalom uvracha,

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