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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 August 2010


This week's Torah portion is ponderous in nature. It contains two sets of curses and only one set of blessings. To add insult to injury, D'varim 28:15-68 graphically portrays the tragedies unspeakable and full of horror awaiting those who turn away from HaShem. Lest we become discouraged, the Holy One, in His great mercy, provides deliverance and redemption from these curses before He even speaks them through Moshe.

D'varim 27:1-8 commands that when the people of Yisrael enter the land, they are to set up stones, plaster them with plaster, and write the Torah on these stones. This monument is then to be placed on mount Ebal. An altar was to be built and worship rendered to the L-RD on this mountain. Ironically, according to verses 12-13, this same mount Ebal was to be the place where the curse would be placed. Why would the Torah and worship to HaShem preside on a mountain from which a curse was to be pronounced?

The Torah and altar are placed on the mountain of cursing as a reminder of the way back to blessing. Not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), HaShem places the means of repentance where it is most needed: at the site of the curse. So it is with us today. Tragedies do happen in life, but if after some soul-searching, we find that we are suffering the consequences of sin because our hearts aren't right with G-d, we need only turn from our sin and to Him and His Torah. As he has promised in His Word: "But if we are walking in the light, as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of his Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin. If we claim not to have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing." (1Jo 1:7-9) "G-d made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in G-d's righteousness."" (2Co 5:21) "My children, I am writing you these things so that you won't sin. But if anyone does sin, we have Yeshua the Messiah, the Tzaddik, who pleads our cause with the Father. Also, he is the kapparah for our sins – and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world." (1Jo 2:1-2) 

Shalom uvracha,

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This week's Torah portion is ageless in its beauty in that the instructions found here aren't contingent upon having a temple or being in the Land of Yisrael. However, Ki Tetze seems like a list of commands that are unrelated to each other. Beginning with instructions on how a soldier is to treat a captive woman he wishes to marry, and ending with the command to blot out the name of the Amalechites from under heaven, this portion covers everything from how to dress to agricultural practices to how one should treat wild life. Upon closer scrutiny, an overarching theme emerges; that is, respect for life.

D'varim 22 addresses what respect for life looks like in very practical ways. Though each aspect of life that this chapter covers could be a study in and of itself, the overriding principle is that indifference or apathy should never be found in the heart of a child of HaShem. We are explicitly commanded to look out for the welfare of our brothers and sisters in every way, including their reputation (D'varim 22:13-19), their safety (verses 25-29), and even their animals (verses 1-4). Since we don't live in an agrarian society, and our society is quite different from that of the Yisraelim 3500 years ago, how does this passage apply to us today?

There are three phrases that Torah does not permit in the life of the believer: "Finders keepers, losers weepers," "live and let live," and "I don't care." If we find something that someone has lost, or if we notice a stray pet, do we take the trouble to safeguard the lost thing or lost pet and seek its owner? If we see a car stalled along the road, do we stop to offer assistance? If we hear someone cry in distress, do we come to their aid as best we can? Do we treat wild animals humanely or do we exploit them for sport? Doing these things isn't an option; it's a matter of obedience. To sum up the matter, this is exactly what our L-RD Yeshua taught us when He said, ""Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets." (Mt7:12)

Shalom uvracha,

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This week's Torah portion, Shof'tim, begins with the command to set up judges who will administer justice in light of the mitzvot of HaShem.Interestingly, though, judgment and discernment aren't left to the ordained judges alone; every member of the community of Yisrael is responsible to have enough discernment to avoid evil and choose good.This is especially brought to bear in D'varim 18.

D'varim 18:15-19 gives the promise from HaShem to His people that He will raise up a prophet like Moshe who will speak everything that HaShem commands him. The responsibility of each Yisraelite is to pay heed to his words and obey them. Whoever doesn't will be held accountable for disobedience. Though many prophets have arisen since the time of Moshe, there is only one Prophet who could fit such a description as found in this passage, and that is our L-RD Yeshua, the Messiah. Ever mindful to protect His people, HaShem not only gives us a foreshadowing of the ultimate true Prophet, but He also gives us the guidelines for discerning between a true prophet and a false one.

Both D'varim 13:1-5 and 18:20-22 have explicit instructions on how to discern between a true prophet and a false one, and these are not open to debate. D'varim 13:1-5 states that if someone claiming to be a prophet tries to persuade us to serve other gods, performing some sign or wonder that comes to pass, it is a test to see if we will be faithful to our G-d, and that prophet should be executed. D'varim 18 addresses the opposite side of the same coin: What if someone speaks in the name of HaShem, but he/she isn't a true prophet? HaShem assures us that if someone presumptuously speaks in His Name and tries to perform some sign or wonder, the sign or wonder won't come to pass, and we have nothing to fear from him/her. These guidelines are time-tested and have direct implications for us as believers today.

Unfortunately, it has become all too popular in some circles to use the title of prophet, and some even boast of being prophets. However, when predictions are made and they don't come to pass, these individuals who claim to be prophets and make these predictions aren't held accountable for their presumptuousness. This is not solely the fault of Christian venues that give these false prophets a platform to speak, it is also the fault of those who insist on listening to them. They make excuses for the false prophets' predictions not coming to pass by saying, "Well, maybe people prayed hard enough and so the prediction was averted." D'varim 18:20-22 leaves no wiggle room. As believers and followers of Yeshua, blessed be He, we need to take these warnings against false prophets very seriously, because we, too, are called to cleave to the L-RD our G-d (D'varim 13:4). Let us heed our Prophet like unto Moshe, Who declared: ""Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep's clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves! You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire! So you will recognize them by their fruit." (Mt 7:15-20) 

Shalom uvracha,

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