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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 July 2013

23

Ekev Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Haftarah Isaiah 49:14-51:3

This second Haftarah of comfort contains the overarching theme that the Holy One, blessed be He, neither forgets nor forsakes His people. It further illustrates that He is faithful, even when we aren’t. One verse in this passage seems cryptic, but when we view it in its context, we see both a glimpse of our L-rd Mashiach Yeshua, and a tool to help us in the trying times of life.

Isaiah 50:10 says: "Who among you fears [ADONAI]? Who obeys what his servant says? Even when he walks in the dark, without any light, he will trust in [ADONAI]'s reputation and rely on his G-d." Verses 4-9 of chapter 50 set the scene for this proclamation. At first, it seems as though the prophet Isaiah is speaking of himself, but if we compare this passage with Luke 4:22; John 7:15; and Matthew 26:67-68, we see that Messiah’s sufferings are being foretold. Since the Light of the world walked through the deepest darkness, He is our example for how to walk when in our own times of darkness.

More often than not, trials and tribulations in life don’t make sense to us. We hope for and sometimes even expect HaShem to work in certain ways, and when He doesn’t, our faith is shaken. A wise friend of mine once said that faith should not be based on what G-d will or won’t do, but it should rest in His Character. This is exactly what Isaiah 50:10 admonishes us to do. Scripture also tells us in Hebrews 11:36-40 that our spiritual ancestors did not receive the fullness of the promises given to them in their lifetimes here on earth, and that some of them even suffered horrifically for their faithfulness to HaShem. It stands to reason, then, that we, their spiritual children and heirs, would also experience the same. How is this comforting?

When we trust in HaShem’s Character, especially during those times when life makes no sense whatsoever, we will find we aren’t tossed about by every circumstance or feeling that comes along. Perhaps the lyrics to a song express it best:

"G-d is too wise to be mistaken.
G-d is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His Hand,
Trust His Heart."
(Mason, Babbie. "Trust His Heart." All the Best. Spring Hill Music Group: 2006.)

Doubtless, this is difficult, but it is what has sustained us in every generation. As we experience life’s joys, sorrows, and perplexities, let us cleave to Him Who is the Light in the midst of our darkness. As it is written: "For our light and transient troubles are achieving for us an everlasting glory whose weight is beyond description." (2 Corinthians 4:17) HaShem is the Answer to all of life’s questions.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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15

Va’etchanan Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
Haftarah Isaiah 40:1-26

This Haftarah is the first of seven Haftarot demarcating a special group of Sabbaths leading up to the High Holy Days. Called "Sheva D’nachamta," or "Seven Sabbaths of Comfort," they Follow hard on the heels of Tisha B’Av (the ninth of Av), reminding us that the Holy One, in His Grace, gives more comfort than affliction. Though it may not seem this way now, it will be so in the future when Mashiach rules and reigns upon David’s throne.

Beginning with the double command to "Comfort, and keep comforting My people …," this week’s Haftarah is a study in the rarest of combinations. The Mighty G-d, Who stretches the heavens out like a tent (Isaiah 40:22), Who calls each and every star by its name (40-26), and before Whom the nations are but dust (40:15), is also the tender Shepherd, carrying the lambs close to His heart, and gently leading the sheep with young (40:11). Why does the prophet Isaiah take the trouble to paint such a panoramic portrait? The context gives us some clues.

In a spiritual climate where a plethora of idols are invoked in hopes of meeting a myriad of human needs, Isaiah emphatically states in as many ways as he can that HaShem alone is the All-sufficient One. Unlike pagans who need a supposed deity for this, another deity for that, and still a third one for something else, Yisrael has the distinct privilege of being in covenant relationship with the True and Living G-d. Though He could demand worship because He is worthy of it, He instead woos His people to worship Him by His sustaining, nurturing care. How does this bring us comfort?

Worship brings comfort, and comfort elicits worship. As human beings, we have the intrinsic need to be in awe of something or Someone greater than ourselves and our existence. At the same time, we are in desperate need of a Shepherd, Guardian, and Protector. If we turn to anything or anyone else other than HaShem to meet these needs, we inevitably find ourselves empty, stuck in a vicious cycle of seeking and searching only to be disappointed. Perhaps this seems like stating the obvious, but how many times do we fall into this very trap? How many times do we turn to TV, the internet, social media, food, sleep, or a host of other things looking for solace? Conversely, how many times have we idolized prominent figures, famous athletes, or even charismatic teachers, putting them on a pedestal, only to watch them topple? Yes, we believers can be just as guilty of this as the world. However, when we say that HaShem is our G-d, we are implying that the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent One is the same One Who meets every imaginable need we might have. Let us take HaShem at His Word, and actually trust Him to be our G-d, our Mighty One, our Savior, Shepherd, and Solace. As it is written: "Praised be G-d, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, compassionate Father, G-d of all encouragement and comfort; who encourages us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others in whatever trials they may be undergoing with the encouragement we ourselves have received from G-d." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) He Who calls the stars by their names holds us in His Hand.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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08

D’varim Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
Haftarah Isaiah 1:1-27

Most Haftarot have direct parallels with their accompanying Torah portions, except for the past three, including this one. This is because these Haftarot are known as the Haftarot of Affliction, since they are read three consecutive weeks before Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av). These Haftarot take on more of a stern tone, reminding us that the loss of the Temple, as well as other tragedies are all too often the consequences of our own sin. This week’s Haftarah contains perhaps one of the most beloved of Scripture verses which gives us the answer to the dilemma of our sin and rebellion.

Isaiah 1:18 declares: ""Come now," says [ADONAI], "let's talk this over together. Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; even if they are red as crimson, they will be like wool."" This one verse expresses the very Heart of HaShem. His Word states plainly that He does not take pleasure in death or punishment, but in repentance. What does true repentance look like?

Nowadays, repentance seems to be mentioned rarely from the beimah, if it is mentioned at all. Yet it is the path we must walk if we wish to be presented to Messiah Yeshua without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:27). Simply put, repentance is turning from sin and turning to  G-d. It is not enough to turn from sin, because we will inevitably turn to something, and if it isn’t to G-d, it will probably be to some other sin. Notice that turning is an action, not simply a confession. However, it does begin with confession as Isaiah 1:18 alludes to when it says: ""Come now," says [ADONAI], "let's talk this over together. …"

Note that verse 19 of Isaiah 1 says if we are willing and obedient, we will eat the good of the land. This teaches that true repentance engages our whole being. HaShem wants us to be willing, employing our kavanah (intentions), and obedient, taking overt action. As we remember the past tragedies and future prophecies concerning the beloved Temple and our Jewish brothers and sisters, let us take stock of our own lives, turning from any element of rebellion, and turning to G-d. As it is written: "If you have really turned from your sins, produce fruit that will prove it! And don't start saying to yourselves, 'Avraham is our father'! For I tell you that God can raise up for Avraham sons from these stones! … The crowds asked Yochanan, "So then, what should we do?" He answered, "Whoever has two coats should share with somebody who has none, and whoever has food should do the same." Tax-collectors also came to be immersed; and they asked him, "Rabbi, what should we do?" "Collect no more than the government assesses," he told them. Some soldiers asked him, "What about us? What should we do?" To them he said, "Don't intimidate anyone, don't accuse people falsely, and be satisfied with your pay." (Luke 3:8, 10-14) Let us repent with our hands and feet as well as with our voices.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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02

Matot/Masei Numbers 30:2-36:13
Haftarah Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4; 4:1-2

In this double Torah portion, Yisrael stands poised at the border of the inheritance given by the Holy One Himself. The Midianites have been defeated, and Bil’am, Yisrael’s nemesis, has been slain. Notice that Yisrael’s victories aren’t won by strategic alliances or political power. They are won because of HaShem, and Him alone. Unfortunately, things change drastically by the time the prophet Jeremiah pens the words of the accompanying Haftarah. Jeremiah 2:17-19 laments: "Haven't you brought this on yourself by abandoning [ADONAI] your God when he led you along the way? If you go to Egypt, what's in it for you? Drinking water from the Nile? If you go to Ashur, what's in it for you? Drinking water from the []Euphrates[] River? Your own wickedness will correct you, your own backslidings will convict you; you will know and see how bad and bitter it was to abandon [ADONAI] your God, and how fear of me is not in you," says [Adonai ELOHIM-Tzva'ot]." In the previous verses of this passage, Jeremiah predicts that the "young lions" would depopulate Yisrael’s cities, leaving her desolate (verses 15-16). Those who were supposed to be her allies would betray her, and those more powerful nations in which she trusted would do her no good.

Rather than trusting in HaShem, Yisrael decides to lean on Egypt, and if that doesn’t work, she makes an alliance with Assyria, just in case, burning the proverbial candle at both ends. Keep in mind that at this point in history, Egypt and Assyria were like the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. Before we cluck our tongues and wonder how the holy, consecrated people of G-d could do such a thing and abandon the Fountain of Living Water (Jeremiah 2:13), let’s take a look at our own lives. As believers, we realize that religion and politics do go hand in hand, and this is praiseworthy. After all, HaShem wants all of our life, not just parts, pieces, and leftovers. That being said, we tend to make the same mistake as Yisrael, turning to one political party or the other political organization in hopes that our chosen venue will be the catalyst for revival and renewal. Yes, it is good to be involved in our nation’s political affairs and take advantage of the freedoms we still have. However, if we place our hope in these institutions, we will find ourselves forsaking that Fountain of Living Water trying to slake our thirst from broken, polluted cisterns that can’t hold water in the first place. If we try to drink from these defunct cisterns, all we’ll get for our efforts is a mouthful of mud. If, however, we turn to HaShem with all our hearts, His Living Water will flow through us, spilling into the culture around us. As it is written: "then, if my people, who bear my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine) HaShem alone is worthy of our total allegiance. His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is throughout all generations (Psalm 145:13; Daniel 3:33 CJB)

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah


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