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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

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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 2011

In last week's Torah portion, we saw how HaShem often uses our stay in the proverbial wilderness to see what is in our hearts and whether we will obey His voice or not. This week, we find another tool HaShem uses to test our loyalty to Him. It seems odd that the Holy One, blessed be He, Who knows things about our hearts we don't even know would wish to prove us, but we shall see that this, too is for our good and for our protection.
D'varim 13:1-5 (13:2-6 CJB) states: ""If a prophet or someone who gets messages while dreaming arises among you and he gives you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder comes about as he predicted when he said, ‘Let's follow other g-ds, which you have not known; and let us serve them,' you are not to listen to what that prophet or dreamer says. For ADONAI your G-d is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love ADONAI your G-d with all your heart and being. You are to follow ADONAI your G-d, fear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him; and that prophet or dreamer is to be put to death; because he urged rebellion against ADONAI your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from a life of slavery; in order to seduce you away from the path ADONAI your G-d ordered you to follow. This is how you are to rid your community of this wickedness." Whereas D'varim 18 speaks of a supposed prophet speaking in the Name of HaShem, but his sign or wonder does not come to pass, this passage warns us of the prophet that does some sign or wonder, yet he seeks to turn G-d's people away from Him to worship idols. One cannot help but wonder why HaShem would permit such a sign to take place. The answer lies in verse 3 (verse 4 CJB), which says that He permits such testing to see whether we love Him with all our heart and soul. This teaches us that, even here in Torah, G-d is seeking a relationship with His people.D'varim 13:1-5 causes us to ask some hard questions. Do we truly Love HaShem for Who He is as revealed in His Word, or do we only love what He can do for us? If we only love what He does for us, always seeking signs and wonders, constantly scrambling after the latest miracle, we will eventually turn from our G-d and follow whoever or whatever is proffering the thing we love. If, however, we honestly love HaShem, seeking to walk in His ways, diligently studying His Word in order to know Him intimately, we will be safeguarded from false teachings and deception.  As it is written: ""So now, Isra'el, all that ADONAI your G-d asks from you is to fear ADONAI your G-d, follow all his ways, love him and serve ADONAI your G-d with all your heart and all your being; to obey, for your own good, the mitzvot and regulations of ADONAI which I am giving you today."
(Deuteronomy 10:12-13) If we Love HaShem and cleave to Him alone, we will never go astray.

Shalom uvracha,
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Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Ekev continues Moshe's rehearsal of Yisrael's young but eventful history. Reminding them of their eventual victory in possessing the land of Canaan, as well as their failures to obey the voice of HaShem while traversing the wilderness, Moshe stresses the theme of constant dependence on HaShem's grace, mercy, and faithfulness. In the midst of this discourse, one of life's most perplexing questions is answered. In D'varim 8:2 and verse 16, Moshe states that one of the reasons for Yisrael's pilgrimage in the wilderness for forty years is to prove them, and to see what is in their hearts. Specifically, Moshe says that HaShem Himself orchestrates this humbling trial by fire (D'varim 8:2). Verse 16 of D'varim 8 clarifies this humbling and proving as being for Yisrael's ultimate good in the end. At a glance, we can see Yisrael's trek through the wilderness as making them into a strong nation. Their experience also makes them into one of the most faithful generations in their ancient history as seen in the narratives of the latter chapters of B'midbar and in the book of Joshua. How can we learn from this history lesson?
There are many sufferings that befall us in life for which there are no adequate explanations. However, according to the above-mentioned passages, one reason for suffering is so that both the Holy One, blessed be He, and those around us may see what is truly in our hearts. This does not make suffering any easier, and we would be wise to keep in mind this is only one reason for trials. Like the Yisraelim, though, HaShem promises us that our sufferings will lead to our ultimate good. As it is written: "Furthermore, we know that G-d causes everything to work together for the good of those who love G-d and are called in accordance with his purpose;" "because those whom he knew in advance, he also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers; and those whom he thus determined in advance, he also called; and those whom he called, he also caused to be considered righteous; and those whom he caused to be considered righteous he also glorified!" (Romans 8:28-30)
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of G-d;" "and if we are children, then we are also heirs, heirs of G-d and joint-heirs with the Messiah - provided we are suffering with him in order also to be glorified with him. I don't think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future." (Romans 8:16-18) Experiences in the wilderness prepare us for our eternal inheritance.

Shalom uvracha,

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Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
In this week's torah portion, Moshe continues his address to the Yisraelim. Concluding his account of Yisrael's history up to their present position of preparing to possess the land of Canaan, he admonishes the people to be ever faithful to HaShem and to take His covenant very seriously, not adding to it or taking from it. This passage opens, however, with the sad reminder that Moshe is denied entrance into the Promised Land. Thankfully, even in the midst of this sorrow, we see a glimpse of HaShem's incomparable grace. D'varim 3:23-27 says: ""Then I pleaded with ADONAI, ‘ADONAI ELOHIM, you have begun to reveal your greatness to your servant, and your strong hand - for what other G-d is there in heaven or on earth that can do the works and mighty deeds that you do? Please! Let me go across and see the good land on the other side of the Yarden, that wonderful hill-country and the L'vanon!' But ADONAI was angry with me on account of you, and he didn't listen to me. ADONAI said to me, ‘Enough from you! Don't say another word to me about this matter! Climb up to the top of Pisgah and look out to the west, north, south and east. Look with your eyes--but you will not go across this Yarden." At first glance, it seems the matter is decided and Moshe's plea is soundly refused. After all, it is rare indeed for HaShem to say to someone: "Enough from you! Don't say another word to me about this matter!" (Verse 26) Yet in the Brit Chadasha, we see that HaShem gives Moshe more than what his heart could ever desire.
Matityahu 17:1-3 records: "Six days later, Yeshua took Kefa, Ya‘akov and his brother Yochanan and led them up a high mountain privately. As they watched, he began to change form-his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became as white as light. Then they looked and saw Moshe and Eliyahu speaking with him." Not only does Moshe get to set foot in the Promised Land, but his eyes behold the One for Whom he forsook the pleasures of Egypt and chose to suffer (Hebrews 11:24-27). This shows us that even in the midst of discipline, HaShem is ever merciful and compassionate.
Sometimes we plead for things in prayer only to have the feeling that HaShem is saying: "Enough from you! Don't say another word to me about this matter!" However, we can learn from Moshe that some answers to prayer aren't granted until after this life. When they are finally granted, though, they are more than we could ever dream. Trusting this to be the case takes a lot of faith, not necessarily in what G-d will or won't do, but in Who He is and in His goodness. "Now to him who by his power working in us is able to do far beyond anything we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the Messianic Community and in the Messiah Yeshua from generation to generation forever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21) "Put your hope in ADONAI, be strong, and let your heart take courage! Yes, put your hope in ADONAI!" (Psalms 27:14)

Shalom uvracha,
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Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
We begin the book of D'varim (Deuteronomy) which contains Moshe's final words to his people. He begins his exhortation by reminding the Yisraelim of their history heretofore. he then proceeds to encourage them to persevere and possess the land HaShem has promised to give them, being careful to follow His instructions to completely destroy the nations He has commanded them to destroy. To reassure the Yisraelim of HaShem's faithfulness, Moshe employs a technique in his speech that is still used in Jewish circles today.
In D'varim 2:10-12, and 20-23, Moshe recounts HaShem's giving lands to Yisrael's relatives, Esav (Esau), Moav (Moab), and Amon by dispossessing people greater in physical stature and more numerous than they. He also tells the history of how the Caphtorim (Philistines) are given land by HaShem through much the same means as Esav, Moav, and eventually Ysrael. Moshe is saying, in so many words, "If HaShem dispossessed giants and gave their lands to people who don't follow Him, how much more will He do this for you?" This technique of referring to a light precedent to prove a heavier one is called in Hebrew "Qal v'Chomer." It is usually recognized by the words "If … How much more?". Though Moshe doesn't put his argument in this specific style, he implies as much.
Our L-rd Yeshua uses Qal v'Chomer in Matthew 6:30 and Luke 18:1-8, to name just a few passages. Addressing G-d's perfect provision, our L-rd declares that if G-d clothes the grass of the field in such vibrant colors, how much more will He clothe His children? In His parable on persisting in prayer, our L-rd Yeshua states that if an unjust judge finally grants justice to a widow so she'll leave him alone, how much more will the Holy One, blessed be He, hear the cries of His chosen who seek Him day and night? Though this rabbinic style of communication seems a bit technical, deep and consoling truths are best conveyed through Qal v'Chomer. Like placing a diamond on black velvet, the contrast of Qal v'Chomer highlights the brilliant beauty and glory of HaShem's character as no other literary device can. If we look for Qal V'Chomer as we read Scripture, we will find rich buried treasure. Consider this gem, for example: ""Is there any father here who, if his son asked him for a fish, would instead of a fish give him a snake? or if he asked for an egg would give him a scorpion? So if you, even though you are bad, know how to give your children gifts that are good, how much more will the Father keep giving the Ruach HaKodesh from heaven to those who keep asking him!"" (Luke 11:11-13) To conclude, if HaShem has kept and sustained His remnant over the past six thousand years, how much more will He perfect that which concerns us? (Psalm 138:8 KJV

Shalom uvracha,

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