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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 June 2011

26

This week's Torah portion opens with the curious ritual concerning a red heifer. this cow which has never borne a yoke, was to be taken outside the camp, slaughtered, it's blood sprinkled toward the Mishkan, and it's remains burned along with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet. Then its ashes were to be preserved and added to water for the cleansing of anyone coming in contact with the dead or with a grave. Though the reasons for this form of cleansing are shrouded in mystery, there is one aspect that sheds light on the role of each believer in the community of Messiah Yeshua.
In B'midbar 19:18-19, we learn that the person administering the sprinkling of the water for purification on behalf of those who have been rendered unclean by the dead was to be a clean person. Interestingly, the command is not that the priest must cleanse the unclean, but a clean person. This clean person does not need any special lineage, high status, or notable standing in his community. The only requirement is that he be pure from any ritual contamination. In one sense, this simple requirement shows G-d's grace in that a priest is not needed to administer cleansing every time someone passes from this life. Needless to say, there would never be enough priests to fill such a demand. In another sense, however, this shows one instance where one's cleansing is dependent on a brother. This reminds me of some instructions Scripture gives to each of us as believers.
One lesson B'midbar 19 teaches us is that it is not incumbent on our rabbi, pastor, congregational leader, or elders to do absolutely everything in the messianic community while the rest of us sit back and do nothing. Notice again that the priests were not called to cleanse every person who had come in contact with the dead. A brother could administer the water of purification, leaving the priests free to attend to the duties HaShem had called them to do. So it is with us in Messiah. If we see a brother or sister falling into sin, let us who are more mature help that brother or sister extract themselves from that pitfall; thus, administering the water of cleansing, as it were. On the same token, let us examine our lives before attempting such an exercise, making sure we are clean as the person administrating the ashes of the red heifer had to be clean. It is true we each have differing spiritual gifts and callings from G-d, but there are certain responsibilities for which we are all accountable, and this is one of them. As it is written: "Brothers, suppose someone is caught doing something wrong. You who have the Spirit should set him right, but in a spirit of humility, keeping an eye on yourselves so that you won't be tempted too. Bear one another's burdens - in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah's true meaning, which the Messiah upholds." (Galatians 6:1-2)

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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21
In this week's portion, we are introduced to Korach of the tribe of Levi, who instigates rebellion against Moshe and Aharon. Along with his cohorts, Dathan and Abiram, Korach ultimately leads more than 14,950 people to their deaths before all is said and done. In order to finally quash this rebellion, HaShem commands that a fascinating procedure be implemented which still speaks to us today.
In B'midbar 17:1-11 (17:16-26 CJB), HaShem commands that each man who is the head of his tribe in Yisrael bring a rod to put in the Mishkan before the Ark of witness (verse 4, verse 19 CJB). Each one was to inscribe his name on his rod, and the rod representing the tribe that HaShem would choose would blossom. Thus, the rebellion would be put down once and for all. We are all familiar with what happened. On the next morning, each head of each tribe claimed his rod, and Aharon's rod, representing Levi, was the one that blossomed. Interestingly, though, it did not just blossom, it brought forth leaves, flowers, and almonds. It both blossomed and it brought forth fruit (verse 8, verse 23 CJB). I find this exciting because Aharon's fruitful rod teaches us a lesson which clears up a lot of confusion.
In our chaotic world today, it is all too common to see a congregation split or a ministry fragment, and those who haven't taken sides are left to wonder who is right and who is wrong. Inevitably, the fragmenting of a congregation or ministry is the result of someone's rebellion. Either those who break away from their main congregation are in rebellion, or the main congregation is in rebellion against G-d's Word, forcing those who seek righteousness to flee such a situation. Personally, I have discovered that, like Aharon's fruitful rod, the group seeking to follow HaShem and His messiah will blossom and bring forth fruit. Consequently, the group in rebellion will not prosper, but the same rebelliousness that formed it will disintegrate it. Notice that Aharon's rod did not bring forth money, prestige, or seminary degrees. Rather, it brought forth living fruit that would remain. So it will be with the congregation or ministry that seeks to follow G-d and walk in His ways. By using the discernment the Ruach HaKodesh gives us, we can apply this principle to any dispute in which we find ourselves. However, we must exercise patience as we wait to see whose proverbial rod will blossom and bring forth fruit. As it is written: "There is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not become known. What you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops." (Luke 12:2-3 

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah
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13
This Torah portion is as topsy-turvy as they come. Beginning with the not-so-bright idea to send spies to scope out the promised land, and ending with the peculiar command to wear fringes or tzitziyot on our clothing, this passage teaches us what it means to be faithful to G-d and how unreliable the human heart is. B'midbar 15:37-41 states: "ADONAI said to Moshe, "Speak to the people of Isra'el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of ADONAI' s mitzvot and obey them, so that you won't go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your G-d. I am ADONAI your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your G-d. I am ADONAI your G-d." This particular command to wear tzitziyot comes upon the heels of a man being stoned to death because he had gathered firewood on the Shabbat. HaShem explains the twofold purpose of this commandment. First, wearing the tzitziyot will help us remember His commandments and be faithful to Him. This faithfulness is akin to marital fidelity (see verse 39). Covenantal faithfulness to our G-d is inexorably linked to keeping His mitzvot. if we are faithful to Him, we will obey Him. After all, the Torah is a marriage contract. (See Shemot 19:5-6, 8, and 24:3, 7.) Second, it is to teach us that we cannot trust our own hearts because they will inevitably lead us astray. As Jeremiah 17: 9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (AV) This is completely contrary to the popular belief which advises, "follow your heart." According to this passage, that is the last thing we should do. So, how do we walk out this command that is to be kept throughout our generations (B'midbar 15:38)?
Debate rages as to who should wear tzitziyot and how they should be worn. Orthodox thought stipulates that only men should wear them because they are traditionally attached to the talit (prayer shawl), which is a man's garment. Others say that, since the reference to the "children or sons of Yisrael" included women, that this commandment is incumbent upon the ladies as well. Some insist that the tzitziyot should be worn out so that others can see them, and others believe they should be worn tucked in as a sign between oneself and HaShem. I present these different facets of this command to show that Scripture seems to permit some flexibility in how to practice wearing tzitziyot by its silence.
However, if we ponder overmuch the technicalities of this command, we will find it easier to come up with excuses not to keep this mitzvah at all. Let us, instead, ask the Ruach HaKodesh how He would want each of us to walk out this part of Torah so that we will ever be faithful to our Heavenly Bridegroom in all things, at all times. As it is written: "I will follow the path of integrity; when will you come to me? I will run my life with a sincere heart inside my own house." (Psalm 101:2)

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah
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07

In this week's torah portion, we see Yisrael at her best and at her not-so-best. Hidden between the offering of the Levi'im and the murmuring of the Yisraelim for want of meat to eat, there is a seemingly insignificant passage which takes pains to make the reader understand that "at the commandment of the L-RD" (KJV) the Yisraelim journeyed, and "at the commandment of the L-RD" they set up camp. Interestingly, this little passage answers one of the most perplexing questions in the life of a believer: What does it mean to wait on the L-RD, and how does one do this? In B'midbar 9:15-23, Moshe belabors the point that the Yisraelim would set up camp at the command of HaShem, and whenever the cloud would lift from the Mishkan, they would journey at the command of HaShem. In fact, he stresses this point even so far as to use the phrase "at the commandment of the L-RD" (KJV) seven times. Since the number seven symbolizes completion or perfection, and Scripture is replete with examples of such, this passage is showing us a picture of complete obedience. It is safe to say that the Yisraelim knew their plans were always subject to the sovereign Will of their Redeemer and Guide. Why would HaShem dwell on such a thing?
Dean VanderMey, director of Set Free Ministries, often observes that G-d's love language is obedience, and this passage beautifully illustrates this truth. It also teaches us, though, that if we wish to be completely obedient to our L-RD, we must realize our plans are tentative at best. If the cloud of His Presence moves from a certain place or circumstance, so must we. Waiting on the L-RD is by no means a passive sitting back and seeing what will fall into our lap. Rather, it is constantly looking to Him for direction and following Him wherever He leads. It is going where He goes, staying where He stays; His people are our people, and He is our G-d. (See Ruth 1:16-17.) It is desiring His Presence so much that we will lay aside our agendas, and even our very lives to be where He is. This is waiting on the L-RD. The Psalmist expressed this thought so beautifully when he wrote: "… I raise my eyes to you, whose throne is in heaven. As a servant looks to the hand of his master, or a slave-girl to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes turn to ADONAI our G-d, until he has mercy on us." (Psalms 123:1-2) Are we willing to have the kind of humility to recognize that we really are not our own? As it is written: "Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such-and-such a city, stay there a year trading and make a profit"! You don't even know if you will be alive tomorrow! For all you are is a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears. Instead, you ought to say, "If ADONAI wants it to happen, we will live" to do this or that. But as it is, in your arrogance you boast. All such boasting is evil." (James 4:13-16)

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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