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Comstock Park, MI 49321
|| Service Times
תפלות שחרית לשבת
Men's Shabbat Morning Prayers 9:00 am
Shabbat (Saturday) Worship Service, 10:30 am
Shabbat School (pre-school~young teens) 11:30 am
Oneg (Delighting in the Shabbat with food and fellowship) 12:45 pm
|| Supplementary Readings
"If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy." (Psalm 137:5-6)
Shalom Brothers and Sisters,
Today in Israel and around the world, Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) is being celebrated. Here in Israel, crowds are parading blue and white through downtown Jerusalem marking the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem.
It has been 49 years since Jerusalem’s Old City, Mount of Olives, and Temple Mount were recaptured on the 28th of Iyyar, 1967, during the Six Day War, after Jordan began firing on western Jerusalem.
The young Kingdom of Jordan had occupied eastern Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria for 19 years its forces put in place after striking hard against the newly independent State of Israel in 1948. Israel faced forces from Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, who were backed in weaponry and finances by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, and Algeria. Her impossible victory still cost the nation twice as many men "as the United States lost in eight years of fighting in Vietnam" in proportion to total population. (Jewish Virtual Library)
Today's celebration will feature state ceremonies and memorial services for the 777 Israeli soldiers killed in action during the Six Day War, including almost a quarter of the nation's 200 Air Force fighters.
Nevertheless, Jerusalem's miraculous reunification is an important prophetic event that paves the way for the King Messiah's return. Truly, the weight of the City's prophetic role on Earth makes her "an immovable rock for all the nations" (Zechariah 12:3).
"I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to My inheritance, My people Israel, because they scattered My people among the nations and divided up My land." (Joel 3:2)
Jerusalem: The City of Completion
"Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:2â€“3)
The unification of Jerusalem is a parallel picture of Jerusalem to come the City in which the spiritual and physical worlds will unite.
During the Messianic Kingdom, God no longer will be relegated to myth or tradition in the eyes of an unbelieving world, for God has sworn, "My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear." (Isaiah 45:23) Just as Yeshua (Jesus) rose into Heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11), He will descend upon the same in His return to Jerusalem. It will be a commanding demonstration of His power as King Messiah. When His feet touch the mountain, it will split in two (Zechariah 14:4).
With a "roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem," Yeshua will take up His throne in the Holy City, to "be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the people of Israel." (Joel 3:16) Then the Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name." (Zechariah 14:9)
Under the direct rulership of the Prince of Peace (Sar Shalom), Jerusalem will assume its divine identity as the City of Peace.
The name Yerushalayim is widely thought to come from two Hebrew words: ir meaning city and shalem (from shalom), meaning peace City of Peace. Going deeper, shalem comes from shalmut, meaning to fulfill or complete. So, the City of Peace may also be called the City of Completion. (Aish) Indeed, it is also thought by many that Jerusalem is where creation began in perfection and where all things will return to perfection.
Imagine! Jerusalem will assume its full potential under the influence of God Himself! "For the Lord has chosen Zion, He has desired it for his dwelling, saying, 'This is My resting place forever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it. 'I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy. Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for My anointed one. I will clothe His enemies with shame, but His head will be adorned with a radiant crown.' (Psalm 132:13-18)
Jerusalem: How Goes the King, Goes the City
In spite of its name and probably because of its destiny, time and again throughout history the "City of Peace" has been attacked verbally and physically and often fallen into captivity.
In the last several years alone, some have attempted to completely severe parts of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, from their ancient Jewish heritage. Instead, these have been claimed as the heritage of a "displaced Palestinian people" and as a central holy place to the Islamic religion. "In 2009, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has initiated an unprecedented campaign of historical revision and anti-Israel libels concerning Jerusalem, the focal point being the erasure and denial of 3,000 years of Jewish history in Jerusalem," writes Palestinian Media Watch. "In addition, the PA disseminates the libel that Israel is acting both to expel Arabs from Jerusalem and to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jerusalem libels are designed to evoke religious hatred by portraying Israel and the Jews as a threat to Arabs and Islam."
In fact, in a media war against Israel, Fatah Revolutionary Council member Bakr Abu Bakr has written that Netanyahu relies on "the theft and crude falsification of history, based on the assumption that Palestine is the land of his 'ancestors' even though (Netanyahu) and those he represents are strangers to this land both now and historically speaking." (PalWatch: Official PA Daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida) PA Chief Justice Tayseer Al-Tamimi also stated that "Jerusalem is the religious, political and spiritual capital of Palestine the Jews have no right to it."
These claims ignore writings less than a century old that were scribed by Jerusalem's principal Muslim authority under the British Mandate.
In 1924, the Supreme Muslim Council wrote in A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif that the Temple Mount's "identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings." (Jewish Virtual Library)
The existence of Solomon’s Temple remained beyond dispute by Muslim rulers in pre-state Israel through the 1948 edition of the guidebook, the year Israel became a nation.
Jordan’s Supreme Awqaf Council, which took control and still administers the Temple Mount, published the next edition, in 1956. Whereas the Muslim Council’s goals admitted the historical truth but relegated the Jewish presence to the past and the Arab presence to the present the Jordanian goals were about exercising and legitimizing Jordanian sovereignty over the Palestinians and the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).
Therefore, in the revised guide, no reference to the Jewish history of the Mount was made; the Western Wall was identified as ancient, evidently Roman. (Palestine’s Sacred Struggle, a thesis by Jennifer Koshner).
The Promise of God for Restoration
"Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: 'The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!'" (Psalm 118:15-16)
Increasingly in our time, the politics and agendas of nations have focused on Jerusalem. This will likely intensify since its destiny is central to the Kingdom of the Messiah on Earth.
While Jerusalem's ultimate King will be righteous, Scripture lists both righteous and evil kings reigning in Judah, carrying behavioral influence over the entire kingdom, including its capital, Jerusalem. In fact, Scripture often seems to depict Israel adhering to the morality of its rulers whether in repentance or in rebellion.
Before King Josiah discovered the Torah scrolls as he restored God's Temple, King Manasseh poisoned Jerusalem with evil, provoking Adonai to vow "such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle." (2 Kings 21:12)
Beginning at age 12, and continuing for 55 years, Manasseh "followed the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites (2 Kings 17:8)," including building an Asherah pole and altars for Baal, bowing to the stars and building altars for them in the Lord's Temple. In addition, "he sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists." (2 Kings 21:6) "Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord." (2 Kings 21:16)
While the sins of Manasseh led to the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the exile of the Jews into Babylon (2 Kings 24), God in His mercy promised Jerusalem's cleansing and restoration:
"I will strengthen Judah and save the tribes of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them. On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity." (Zechariah 10:6; 13:1)
Even though God’s Chosen People defiled both themselves and God’s Land many times, He has made numerous similar promises of restoration of His People and of His Land. Conversely, there are no such promises for foreigners who try to defile His People and His Land. These enemies will be consumed with the wrath of God:
"In an instant, the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion." (Isaiah 29:6-8)
1948, 1967: The Arab League Rejects the Jewish State
The modern-day fight against Mount Zion, that the Prophet Isaiah foresaw began politically with the Arab League's repeated refusals to recognize a Jewish state. Even so, on July 24, 1922, all 51 members of the League of Nations had already recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." (The Palestine Mandate, Yale Law School)
That July, the Kingdom of Jordan did not yet exist; only in September did the League even draw up the potential borders of a new nation for Arabs residing in the British Mandate to be established in Trans-Jordan ("across the Jordan River"). With the land west of the Jordan still assigned as a national home for the Palestinian Jews, the League's plans separated out two-thirds of the Mandate all east of the River for Palestinian Arabs who were primarily comprised of Syrians and Saudi Arabians.
Despite propaganda claims today that Israel violates international law and acts as an occupier of "Arab Palestinian" lands, the nations themselves recognized the territory of Palestine west of the Jordan River including Jerusalem, Gaza and Judea-Samaria as constituting the Jewish homeland. (United Jerusalem)
Nevertheless, the Arab League's rigid refusal to recognize a Jewish state brought heavy-handed violence against the minutes-old State of Israel in 1948. As a result, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan also newly independent seized eastern Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria. In this greedy land grab, those areas come to be known as Jordan’s "West Bank."
In the years after Israel's declaration of independence, even during the so-called armistice with the Kingdom of Jordan, foreign attackers a large number Jordanian continued striking against Israeli civilians with acts of rape, gunfire, grenade strikes, land mines, and ambushes.
During the 1950s and '60s, "border conflicts" against some of Israel's 2.5 million Jews were common. In 1964, the Arab League created the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Over the course of three years, it issued dozens of terrorist raids against Israeli civilians.
In 1965, the PLO conducted 35 terrorist raids against Israelis, followed by 41 the next year and another 37 in 1967. The attacks against Israel peaked with the 1967 War. While outnumbered and under-equipped, the Jewish state fought against the four well-supplied invading armies, their 465,000 troops to Israel's 264,000; 2,880 tanks to Israel's 800; and 900 aircraft to Israel's 300.
Amidst Israel's immense physical disadvantages, God intervened on her behalf; the miracle of Israel's win in the Six Day War proved God's might through Israel's lack as if God was using it to show, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) We see a similar victory during the age of the judges when the Lord ensured that the army of Gideon, which would fight against the Midianites, would be small in number selecting only 300 men of an initial 32,000 troops gathered. The Lord said to Gideon, "You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, My own strength has saved me.'" (Judges 7:2)
So too, in June 1967, did God save Israel.
With every other support stripped away, the 19-year old nation was struck with overwhelming fear. The government estimated losses from 10,000 people to total annihilation, and started to convert national parks into mass burial grounds. (The Churches of God)
The first PLO chairman, Ahmad Shukeiri, was reported saying on June 1, "This is a fight for the homeland; it is either us or the Israelis. Any of the old Palestine-Jewish population who survive may stay, but it is my impression that none of them will survive." (Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training)
Adding to Israel's isolation, on June 5, the first day of the war the US state department issued to the press their stance on the intensifying situation: "Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed."
Not long before, on May 22, Egypt's President Gamal Nasser had illegally closed the Straits of Tiran an international waterway to Israeli shipping, isolating the Israeli port of Eilat. Israel had informed Nasser that doing so would be considered a casus belli, "an act or situation provoking or justifying war." A week prior, on May 14, Nasser had asked United Nations Secretary General U Thant to withdraw the United Nations Emergency Forces deployed to the Sinai Peninsula; the UNEF forces exited the area two days later. Already in 1965, Nasser had said multiple times that the goal of the Arab nations was "the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people." He did not disguise the intent to wipe Israel off the map.
"In other words, we aim at the destruction of the state of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel," he said. (Jewish Virtual Library)
By the summer of 1967, Nasser was goading Israel to war on a daily basis, stating "the Arab people want to fight." Then, near the tipping point of war on May 30, Egypt signed a Mutual Defense Pact with Jordan. "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel," Nasser said. "We will not accept any coexistence with Israel."
In response to the provocation, Israel preemptively struck the Egyptian forces amassing in the Sinai at Israel's border. Despite the overwhelming superiority of enemy forces, it proved to be a massive win for the Jewish state. Israel secured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza (occupied by Egypt since 1948); Judea, Samaria, and the Old City of Jerusalem (occupied by Jordan since 1949); and the Golan Heights held by Syria.
Against all advice by National Security Advisor Kissinger and Secretary of Defense Schlesinger; in spite of economic retaliation by Arab nations; and despite his own hostilities toward certain Jewish influence, US President Nixon ordered a complete replenishing of military supplies to Israel. Over the course of the airlift 567 missions were flown, delivering over 22,000 tons of supplies, and an additional 90,000 tons were delivered to Israel by sea, writes Roger Stone in his book Nixon’s Secrets. (p. 399)
The Jordanian forces that had possessed the Old City for 19 years caused the city to fester destroying, looting and desecrating 58 synagogues in her midst, ransacking the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and trampling the Temple Mount.
Moreover, in direct violation of the 1949 armistice agreements, Jordan had denied the Jewish People access to the Mount of Olives cemetery, as well as to Jerusalem's Jewish religious sites, including the Western Wall. Under Jordan's neglect, the iconic prayer site was reduced to a slum. Jordan also cut off Israeli Arabs from accessing the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.
While, for the most part, Christians could access their holy sites, Christian schools were required to teach all students the Quran and no Christian material could be taught to non-Christians. (SixDayWar)The Physical and Spiritual Warfare Continues
Today, Israel's enemies still deny her historical and legal authority over a reunited Jerusalem and even her existence as a nation. So, too, does Satan (the "Adversary") try to deny the truth of God's existence and His authority over the Land of Israel. In fact, it is possible to draw parallels between the anti-Semitic propaganda that slanders Israel and the satanic lies spewed against her God on a daily basis.
We even see an image of Satan on the public Facebook page of an official student council officer from Durban University of Technology’s Student Representative Council, who announced: We (the council) took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister. Hate-filled rhetoric like this is prominent on campuses throughout the world. It is especially intense during the annual Apartheid Week. Yet, God's permanent covenant with the Jewish People, with the Land of Israel, and with the City of Jerusalem as laid out in His Word, flourishes today in full view of "those who have eyes to see."
God's love relationship with Israel, built on the foundation of a binding covenant, demonstrates the truth of His Word, as well as the reliability of His love and His promises to all nations. The fact that Israel has once again become a nation and the Jewish People now live again in their ancient capital is evidence that God’s Spirit is moving amidst His Chosen People. You can be a part of this end-time move of God by helping us bring the Word of God to Israel and the World.
Time is short. He is soon returning.
Dr. Akiva Sherman- Israeli Messianic Minister
Santa Monica, California USA
Brothers and Sisters, Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day).
Yesterday, at 8:00 p.m., less than an hour after the sun sets here in Israel, the flag will be lowered to half-staff and the siren will sound for an entire minute throughout the Holy Land.
Its mournful cry is the sound of national grief, as Israelis remember nearly 23,447 Jewish people who lost their lives protecting the Holy Land or as a result of terrorism from 1860 to the present.
Today morning, a second siren will sound at 11:00 a.m. for two minutes, marking the beginning of official ceremonies in the military cemeteries.
"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem." (Isaiah 66:13)
After the horrors of the Holocaust, God rebirthed the nation of Israel as a homeland for His Chosen People in a single day in fulfillment of prophecy nevertheless, Israelis have had to defend this nation from those who wish to crush it.
"Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children." (Isaiah 66:8)
Within 24 hours of the miraculous rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, five of Israel's Arab neighbors, Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, invaded the tiny, new Jewish State.
The war lasted 15 months, and God was with the Jewish People. Although only 6,373 Israelis were lost in the War of Independence, every year the list of those who have died defending Israel grows longer.
Israel's enemies are still determined to extinguish this tiny state, and innocent civilians are losing their lives, as well.
Though Israel only wants peace, she has been forced to defend herself from the aggression of the surrounding Muslim nations that oppose the very idea of a Jewish state.
Israel is a peace-loving nation, the nation that gave to the world the Bible and the Prince of Peace, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), Savior of the World.
Please take some time today to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
'May those who love you be secure.'"
The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will bring My people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,says the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:3)
In honor of Yom HaZikaron (The Day of Remembrance), as the sun set last night, entire communities all over Israel solemnly filed into their local Yad LaBanim (Memorial to the Sons / memorial facilities).
They went there to commemorate the sacrifices made by the men and women, the boys and girls, sometimes friends and members of their own family for the cause of Israeli security and sovereignty.
Portraits of the 23,447 who have fallen flashed on screens as their sacrifices and often short lives were recounted. The count for those memorialized in this tribute begins at 1860 with the Yishuv (lit. Settlement), the name given to the Jewish communities that rose up outside the walls of Jerusalem in pre-state Israel.
In Kibbutz Beit HaShita where three of my five children were born, 11 members were lost during the one month war of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in 1973, the largest loss per capita of any town in Israel, said Barry, a BFI team member.
Most of these men were killed in one battle at the famous Chinese Farm as paratrooper units fought to clear a path to the Canal so that the Israeli forces could cross over into Egypt, he explained. They were cut down as they approached in half-tracks, armored personnel carriers, by deadly accurate Russian supplied Sagger anti-tank missiles at the Lexicon-Tirtur Junction.
The desperateness of the situation is described by battalion commander Major Nathan Shunari who at 6:15 the morning following the attack radioed for help saying,
We are under a tank attack, the going is tough. Request for urgent artillery, tanks, and aircraft support. Cannot disengage. Many casualties. It's urgent! My entire force is getting killed off; they are practically in on top of me! Why can't you throw in tanks faster?!
The brigade commander's replied, We have no tanks here, or aircraft.
Shunari's battalion lost 25 men that night, including his brother, Yehiel, along with Israel Schindler, a decorated veteran from the 1967 Six Day War, and Dudu Aharon, whose brother, Hanoch, was killed three hours earlier, on Tirtur Road; and an equal number of wounded. (Crossing "Tzlicha," by Amiram Ezov)
While each community mourns individually, an official ceremony marking the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall, and the flag of Israel is lowered to half-staff.
All of these events commenced with a one-minute siren that blasted across the nation at exactly 8 p.m. last night. Citizens everywhere stood at attention and all traffic ceased. A second two-minute siren sounded this morning at 11 a.m.
Throughout the day, Israeli flags have been waving from homes, buildings and cars, in cities, towns, villages, kibbutzim (collectives), and moshavim (cooperative farming communities).
In defiance, many Israeli Arabs have been displaying the Palestinian flag from their vehicles.
During these 24 hours of remembrance, one television station is streaming the names of the fallen by date, including those who have been killed in battle and, since the second intifada, those in terrorist attacks. On the airways, somber music befitting such a day is playing.
Today, families gather in cemeteries, visiting the graves of their sons, daughters, husbands, and wives who have sacrificed their lives in the defense of the Jewish state or fell as victims of Palestinian terrorism.
Yom HaAtzmaut: Remembering the Liberation Before Independence
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. (Zechariah 9:11)
Yom HaZikaron never loses its significance, even when the sun sets here in Israel and this day of mourning turns to joy as Israel's 68th Day of Independence, Yom HaAtzmaut, begins.
In 1948, Israel once again became an independent nation, only a few years after the end of World War II when the floodgates of homeless Jews trying to escape Europe were opened.
No one who participated in the liberation of the Nazi death camps in 1945 can forget what they saw, heard, smelled, and touched there. That includes the supreme allied commander in Europe, General Dwight David Eisenhower, who later became America's 34th president.
Eisenhower visited the forced labor camp Ohrdruf in Germany on April 12, 1945, just days after the Nazis led the prisoners on death marches to Buchenwald concentration camp and killed those who were too sick to walk to the rail cars. He recalls,
The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda. (ushmm)
Patton and Eisenhower were not the only people moved by that devastation.
Barry also recalls, Among the liberators of the death camps was my own uncle who returned from World War II a shaken man. He never was able to completely recuperate from that psychologically shattering experience. It is, therefore, only fitting that those few who remain should honor that event by revisiting the site of those camps.
March of the Living
Another kind of Remembrance memorial occurred last week at the 28th annual March of the Living in Poland. There, some 10,000 people from 40 different countries traced the three-kilometer path linking the former Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The march included a delegation of Holocaust survivors, GI liberators, and soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who participated under the sponsorship of the Friends of the IDF (FIDF).
They began marching in the Polish city of Tarnow, which was once the home of thousands of Jews; and continued to the city of Krakow, which housed Poland's Jewish ghetto; and on to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
From there, the delegation flew in an Israeli Air Force transport jet to Israel, where they are now commemorating Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut.
The trip is entitled From Holocaust to Independence. As FIDF CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir described it, This one-of-a-kind delegation will span the modern history of the Jewish People by uniting Holocaust survivors, American liberators of concentration camps, and IDF officers.
He added that the trip covers the Jewish People's history from their near-extinction to the rebirth of the modern state of Israel to the new generation of a Jewish army that watches over our legacy today, making sure that never again and never forget are not just phrases, but rather promises.
Klifi-Amir stressed that visiting the Nazi extermination camp with IDF soldiers has deep symbolism, sending a message to the world that we remember, and that the Holocaust cannot, and will not, ever happen again.
Included in the delegation were Israeli Auschwitz survivor Martha Weiss and Birkenau survivor Giselle Cycowicz.
They were joined by three American soldiers who liberated concentration camps, including 94-year-old Sid Shaffner from Colorado of the 42nd Infantry Division, one of the first US soldiers to enter Dachau; Cranston Rogers, 91, of Massachusetts, who liberated Dachau with the 45th Infantry Division on April 29, 1945; and William Bryant Phelps, 90, of Texas, who liberated Mauthausen-Gusen with the 11th Armored Division.
Shaffner reunited with Marcel Levy, who was liberated from Dachau and joined his division as a cook. The two have been friends since 1945.
National FIDF President Peter Weintraub noted that this might be the last opportunity for liberators and survivors to join together and share their stories.
Prior to the trip, Weintraub said, It promises an incomparable emotional experience for everyone involved. I can't imagine a more bittersweet moment than walking through the gates of Poland's most notorious death camp surrounded by those who suffered within its walls, those who helped set them free, and those who must make sure they are not forgotten. (jpupdates)
The fact that fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remain as each year progresses is typified by the story of Sam Harris, who at 80 is still able to relate witnessing the slaughter of his family and other members of his community when the Nazis invaded in 1939. He survived the war as an inmate of Czestochowa concentration camp.
For many years Sam, who now lives in the States, was unable and unwilling to speak of this time. But after the publication of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Arthur Butz, a book declaring that the Holocaust was a hoax, Sam is taking every chance he can to share his experience in schools, conferences, and other events. (Jewish Chronicle)
The Death Toll Continues to Rise
For I hear many whispering, Terror on every side! They conspire against me and plot to take my life. (Psalm 31:13)
Every year since our independence, the enemy of our souls endeavors to wipe out this nation.
Ten years ago, before the construction of the security fence in Israel, the second intifada stole the lives of whole families, many of them in bus and cafe bombings.
Personal friends of mine were saved when they decided not to board a bus that subsequently blew up a few moments later, Barry remembers. That can only be called an act of God.
In a distressing reminder of that intifada, 21 people were recently injured, two critically, when a bomb exploded last month on Egged bus number 12 in Jerusalem's Talpiot industrial area.
As a result, two Egged buses and a third vehicle were reduced to skeletons of burnt steel.
Today, some say a third intifada has been underway since Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in September 2015. In this uprising, terror activity has been mostly limited to what might be called lone wolf attacks, encouraged by the Palestinian Authority, in which teens as young as 13, boys and girls alike, seek to kill soldiers and innocent passersby with knives, vehicles, and other weapons.
You might say that these misguided teens are wasting their youth, since we already know from God's Word that not only did He reestablish the Jewish state, He continues to protect our state from all of its detractors.
This Is Our Country and There Is No Other
I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God. (Amos 9:15)
On Yom HaAtzmaut, a special ceremony will take place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
On the Mount is the national cemetery and parade grounds where Zionist founder Theodore Herzl and such state leaders as murdered Prime Minister and military commander Yitzhak Rabin, and former prime ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and Yitzhak Shamir are buried.
All of Israel will be watching on TV as military troops are reviewed.
They will also watch a presentation of the flag of Israel, a Menorah, a Magen David (Star of David), and the ceremonial lighting of twelve torches, one for each of the Tribes of Israel. That lighting will be performed by twelve citizens who have made a significant contribution.
Last year, Channel 2 Israeli-Arab news anchor Lucy Aharish was one of those chosen to light a torch.
When Aharish took her turn at the ceremony, she said that she was lighting the torch for all human beings wherever they may be who have not lost hope for peace and for the children, full of innocence, who live on this Earth.
For those who were but are no more, who fell victim to baseless hatred by those who have forgotten that we were all born in the image of one God. For Sephardim and Ashkenazim, religious, and secular, Arabs and Jews, sons of this motherland that reminds us that we have no other place. For us as Israel, for the honor of mankind, and for the glory of the State of Israel.
She also spoke in Arabic adding, For our honor as human beings, this is our country and there is no other. (Times of Israel)
Dr. Akiva Sherman- Israeli Messianic MinisterSanta Monica, California USA
Yom HaShoah / יום השואה
Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; "Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day"), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day and public holiday. It was inaugurated on 1953, anchored by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to Shabbat, in which case the date is shifted by a day.
Yom HaShoah begins at sundown on Wed, 04 May 2016.
We Remember Them
In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them. In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them. In the opening buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them. In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them. In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them. In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them. When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them. When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them. When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them. So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
O God of Israel, we remember the countless numbers of our people who have suffered unspeakable agonies and death. Some were silent sufferers, some rebelled, all were murdered. Some are still remembered by friends and loved ones, others have vanished with no earthly remembrance. We plead that You will remember all of them, that you will hold them in Your heart, that they will find their peace with You.
God of our fathers and mothers, our eyes are now witnesses for the suffering of Israel; our hearts have been torn as we mourn for our people. We will not forget one single thing, not forget to the last generation, lest we ignore threats to our people and all human degradation, or we’ve learned nothing, nothing at all.
Ani ma'amin b'emunah sh'leimah b'viat hamashiach, v'af al pi sh'yitmameah, im kol zeh achakeh lo b'chol yom sheyavo.
אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה בְּבִיאַת הַמָּשִֽׁיחַ, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּתְמַהְמֵֽהַּ, עִם כָּל זֶה אֲחַכֶּה לּוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁיָּבוֹא.
I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and, though he tarry, I will wait daily for his coming.
Translation from The Standard Prayer book by Simeon Singer (1915) (public domain)
Yizkor Psalms Chapter 23 תְּהִלִּים
א מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: יְהוָה רֹעִי, לֹא אֶחְסָר.
1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
ב בִּנְאוֹת דֶּשֶׁא, יַרְבִּיצֵנִי; עַל-מֵי מְנֻחוֹת יְנַהֲלֵנִי.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.
ג נַפְשִׁי יְשׁוֹבֵב; יַנְחֵנִי בְמַעְגְּלֵי-צֶדֶק, לְמַעַן שְׁמוֹ.
3 He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for His name's sake.
ד גַּם כִּי-אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת, לֹא-אִירָא רָע-- כִּי-אַתָּה עִמָּדִי;
שִׁבְטְךָ וּמִשְׁעַנְתֶּךָ, הֵמָּה יְנַחֲמֻנִי.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
ה תַּעֲרֹךְ לְפָנַי, שֻׁלְחָן-- נֶגֶד צֹרְרָי;
דִּשַּׁנְתָּ בַשֶּׁמֶן רֹאשִׁי, כּוֹסִי רְוָיָה.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
ו אַךְ, טוֹב וָחֶסֶד יִרְדְּפוּנִי-- כָּל-יְמֵי חַיָּי;
וְשַׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְהוָה, לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
First words of the Hebrew Bible: "In the beginning,
Shalom Brothers and Sisters,
HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot almost upon us, we have only a few more readings left in this
year's Torah reading cycle. In just a few weeks, we will once
again restart the annual cycle of Torah readings.
holiday of Simchat Torah, which takes place this year on the evening of October
4th, will mark the end of one annual cycle of weekly Torah readings, and the
beginning of another.
Christians negate the importance of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), it is
truly at the heart of the Jewish People and Judaism.
The reading of the Torah is central to synagogue worship. It is recited in part during the
morning services of Monday, Thursday, and twice on Saturday or the Shabbat.
Torah scrolls are paraded in front of the United Synagogue
on Simchat Torah. (Photo by Joe Epstein)
We are in good
company when we read the Torah out loud.
Jewish tradition, the practice of reading the Torah aloud before the assembly
dates to the time of Moses who is said to have publicly read the Torah on
Shabbat, on festivals and on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the new month.
teaches that Ezra the scribe, who lived at the time the Jewish People returned
from Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC, added Torah readings on Mondays
and Thursdays and on Shabbat afternoons.
and Thursdays were selected because on these days Jewish people would go to the
towns to shop and trade.
Since the time
of the Maccabees during the 2nd century BC, this practice was at times
suspended, but the public reading of the Torah has continued uninterrupted.
There are two
approaches to the readings that go back to historical times.
In one, the
Torah is divided into 155 portions and read through in a three-year cycle. This
is still practiced today within the Reform and Conservative movements.
In Babylonia, the Torah was
divided into 54 consecutive readings to be read through in a one-year cycle. This approach is still used by the
Orthodox and most Conservative Jews today. Special Torah readings are inserted
on the holidays.
Torah scroll and yad (Torah pointer, literally, hand)
synagogue, a Torah service coordinator called the Gabbai calls people up to the
bimah (raised platform from which the Torah is read) for
the Torah reading, which is divided into sections called aliyot (plural for aliyah,
meaning ascent or going up).
Two people on
the bimah are required for the actual reading: the person reading the Torah and
the person who corrects the reader's pronunciation and chanting of the trop,
which is Yiddish for ta'mim or musical
signs that determine how the text is chanted.
necessary since the text in the Torah scroll is devoid both of punctuation and
of musical notations. These notations are available in the Masoretic text,
the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text written sometime around AD 10 by
scholars in Tiberias, Israel, and in particular by Aaron ben Moses ben Asher.
least three others are called to the bimah for the aliyah
they each recite a special blessing before the reader continues with the next
Being called up is a special honor; therefore, the first reading
is given exclusively to one who is a descendant of the Kohanim (Jews of priestly descent). The
second oleh (person called to read) is a descendant of the
Levites. The third is given to a yisra'el, a Jew who
is neither a Kohen nor a Levi.
Readers use a
special pointer fashioned in the shape of a finger called a yad or literally hand,
to keep their place. The yad ensures that the text remains unobscured so
that others at the bimah can follow along.
Standing at the bimah in the Ealing Synagogue, UK
The removal of
the Torah from the Aron HaKodesh or ark involves a procession in which the
Torah is carried through the sanctuary while hymns are sung.
It is carried
in the arms of the Chazzan (the one who chants the service) on Shabbat and
holidays. Whenever the Torah is removed from the ark, the Chazzan faces
the congregation and recites the Shema (Here oh Israel the Lord your God is One
God). He continues with Echad Eloheinu, gadol Adonenu (One is our God, great is our Lord).
congregation responds with verses from Chronicles and Psalms. The traditional
prayer that's read when the Torah is returned to the ark is called Eitz-Chayim hi,
which begins "It is a Tree of Life to
those who hold fast to it."
Torah is returned to the ark, it is paraded through the congregation in order
to allow worships to pay reverence by kissing the Torah scroll. This is
done by first kissing the hand, or spine of the Siddur (Jewish prayer book),
and then touching it gently to the Torah scroll cover.
public reading of Torah is not enough. Studying Torah is also essential.
to study Torah is linked with the teachings of the rabbis as set down in the
Babylonian Talmud (a compendium of rabbinical interpretations of the Torah).
dictate reads: And the study of Torah is equivalent to them all
127a), meaning that it
is the greatest commandment.
explains the reason for this, saying of one who studies the Torah, He becomes a partner in
bringing the Divine Presence among the People of Israel (BT
The Aron Kodesh (Torah ark or closet) the Ponevezh
Yeshiva (Orthodox Jewish seminary) in Bnei Brak, Israel.
D'var Torah (a Word of Torah)
A darshan (interpreter or explainer) provides a d'var
Torah, a discussion or written essay based on the Torah portion for the week. The
explanation of the Torah portion, which might focus on certain words or verses
or be an overview, is called the drash (to seek out,
Often the rabbi
gives a d'var Torah instead of a sermon during a worship service, but anyone
can give one by reading the Torah portion and studying various other divrei
Torah (plural of d'var Torah).
In fact, it is
considered an honor to be
chosen to present a d'var Torah since presenting one fulfills
the commandments to study Torah, to teach Torah, and allows one to remind
others that the study and interpretation of Torah is for everyone and not
restricted to rabbis.
prepare drashes are part of a long historical line of people who have
interpreted the Torah.
The PaRDeS (garden or orchard) method of Jewish exegesis is
the traditional approach for studying Jewish text. In this method, the
darshan uses four approaches to the text, each one considered deeper than the
- Peshat-meaning simple, the plain, straight, literal meaning
of the text. This is considered the keystone to understanding Scripture.
- Remez-meaning hint, the symbolic or allegoric consideration
that hints at the depth of the text
- Deresh-meaning concept, from the Hebrew darah (inquire/seek) look at comparative or
- Sod-meaning hidden,
the secrets of the text or hidden meanings.
The d'var Torah can be provided in a variety of
Havruta: Learning in Pairs
Torah is studied in a group with at least one other person. This approach is
together members endeavor to apply the teaching to their own lives. It is
common for students to study together in a beit midrash (study hall) along with other havrutot (plural
for havruta), where the sounds of study and debate fill the air.
The idea of
this group approach to learning can be traced to the Talmud, which says that
understanding the Torah is only possible in a group,
Talmud [BT], Berakhot 63b).
The word haburah
has the same root as havruta-haver , which translates as friend in English.
of the Talmud's emphasis on studying in pairs is the verse, Two scholars
sharpen one another (BT
Ta'anit 7a) which interpreted means that two scholars, by their
discussion and debate, can help to sharpen each other's understanding of the
iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men study the Torah together.
Judaism there have been three approaches associated with Biblical
The first is
the Palestinian-Babylonian school associated with the Pharisees, the first
century rabbinical sect that ruled at the time of Yeshua.
The second is
the allegorizing Hellenistic (Greek) school as represented by Philo. When
compared to the interpretation of the Pharisees, it might be considered the
secular approach of the time (first century AD).
approach is the sectarian prophecy-oriented approach of the Essenes who are
believed to have written the Dead Sea Scrolls.
PaRDeS approach adopted by the Pharisees ultimately dominated and is seen in
the works of the Mishnah, Talmud, and other rabbinic texts.
approach ultimately led to the development of much lore in connection with the
characters of the Bible or Torah, some of which are very entertaining and
That lore is
written as stories or parables that attempt to answer ethical, practical, theological
or legal questions, to fill in gaps in the Scripture.
This body of
rabbinic literature is collectively referred to as midrash which
means exposition or investigation
from the root drash, referred to earlier.
story is also called a midrash.
one well-known midrash attempts to answer the question of how Abraham came to
be chosen by God.
The Bible tells
us nothing as to why Abraham was chosen by God; however, this midrash teaches
that one night Abraham was told to bring food to the many idols that his father
kept. Instead of distributing the food among the idols, he destroyed all but
the largest one and then placed all of the food at the foot of this idol,
placing a mallet in his hand.
father was faced with this scene the next morning, he asked Abraham to explain
what had happened. The boy Abraham told his father that the big idol smashed
the smaller ones and stole their food.
His father told
him that was not possible. This realization forced his father to change
his perspective on his worship of idols.
Torah scrolls are housed in a synagogue's Aron Kodesh
Yeshua and the Torah
Tanakh (Old Testament) continues to be important in the Brit Chadashah (New
faithfully attended the synagogue on Saturdays, the Sabbath, and read from the
Luke 4:16-19 reveals that Yeshua was given the honor
of reading from the prophets, the Haftarah,
when visiting His hometown of Nazareth.
There he recited a prophecy about Himself:
Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news
to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery
of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's
also Isaiah 61:1-2)
4:1-11 reveals that
both Satan and Yeshua were completely familiar with the Torah. After fasting
for 40 days in the Judean wilderness, Satan tempted Yeshua to turn stone into
bread, to jump off the Temple
so angels would save Him, and to receive the kingdoms of the world if he would
only worship Satan.
At each attempt, Yeshua used Scripture from the Tanakh (Old
Testament) to put Satan in his place.
when told to turn stone into bread, Yeshua responded with a verse from the
Torah when He said, It is written: a Man shall not
live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
In this and
many other places in the Brit Chadashah, we have ample proof not only of
Yeshua's knowledge of the Torah, but of its spiritual authority.
lost none of that authority.
Carl Heinrich Bloch's painting of the
Temptation of Yeshua (Chapel at
Jews devote their entire life to its study and interpretation drawing on such
texts as the Talmud (compilation of oral laws, supplemental laws to Scriptures
with midrashim and commentaries), along with the many other midrashim written
by scores of rabbis throughout the ages.
Today it is not
uncommon for a regular member of a congregation to present a midrash to the
congregation, carrying on the tradition of drawing wisdom from the laws of
Moses and the five books that form the Torah while filling in details as a way
to answer questions of our day.
question, however, will only be answered by those who boldly bring God's Word
to the Jewish People and the nations.
question is this: Was Yeshua a mere moral teacher or was He something
scholar of literature named C. S. Lewis writes in his book Mere Christianity how the
answer to that question is found in Scripture itself:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus
said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic, on the
level with the man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil
of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the
Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.
answers the question of King Solomon when he asked,
has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the
wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established
all the ends of the earth? "What
is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4)
Open Torah scroll on a bimah.
Those who follow
Yeshua and believe that He is the promised Messiah and Son of God, as He
claimed to be, have access not only to the Words of God but also to the
ultimate teacher and interpreter of God's word, His Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
provides deep insights into Scriptures that even the prophets have longed to
said, It is written in the Prophets: They will
all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him
comes to Me.
6:45; see also Isaiah 54:13, Jeremiah 31:31-36)
As the Jewish
People come to know their Messiah and receive His Ruach HaKodesh, they will finally
understand the deep meanings in the Torah that they have longed to discover.
am bringing My righteousness near, it is not far away; and My salvation will
not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion,
My splendor to Israel."
Dr. Akiva Sherman- Israeli Messianic Minister
Santa Monica, California USA
Isaiah and the Haftarah
By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
The haftarah is a weekly portion from a book of Neviim (the Prophets), that is read after the Torah reading on Shabbos and on many other special days. Typically, the haftarah has a thematic connection to the Torah reading, as it was originally introduced as a substitute for the regular reading at a time when public reading of the Torah was banned by the secular authorities. Despite the similar-sounding names, “haftarah” is not related to the word “Torah.” (“Haftarah” is spelled with a Hebrew letter tes for its “T” sound; “Torah” has a taf.)
More haftaros come from the Book of Isaiah than from any other Book of Prophets. Out of 54 parshiyos, 15 are from Isaiah (according to Ashkenazic tradition). Additionally, the haftaros for Yom Kippur morning, the last day of Pesach, a Rosh Chodesh that falls on Shabbos, and fast days at Mincha are all from Isaiah.
In the summer, we have a long series of haftaros that come from this Book. These are called the shiva d’nechamta, the seven of consolation. They begin with the Shabbos following Tisha B’Av, which is called Shabbos Nachamu. The Shabbos actually receives its name from the haftarah, which begins, “Nachamu, nachamu, ami,” “Be comforted, be comforted, my people.” This comes from Isaiah chapter 40, which is read as the haftarah for parshas Va’eschanan. The following weeks are from the subsequent chapters, although not in strict chronological order. They are:
* Eikev – from the middle of chapter 49 through the start of chapter 51
* Re’eh – middle of chapter 54 through the start of chapter 55
* Shoftim – middle of chapter 51 and most of chapter 52
* Ki Seitze- – the first part of chapter 54
* Ki Savo – chapter 60
* Nitzavim – the end of chapter 61 through the start of chapter 63
(It may be curious that haftaros frequently start and end mid-chapter. The chapter and verse system was invented by Christian scholars. It’s a very useful tool, but it doesn’t always jibe with our tradition as to where topics start and end. That’s why aliyos and parshiyos frequently don’t line up with the chapter breaks a verse or two off.)
Unlike most haftaros, the “seven of consolation” do not relate to the content of the weekly Torah reading. They are meant to comfort klal Yisroel after the sadness of Three Weeks commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem and the two Temples. They are all taken from Isaiah, as the last third of his book focuses heavily on the theme of consolation.
Shalom Brothers and Sisters,
An annual three-week period of mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple, as well as the ongoing exile of the Jewish People, begins this weekend on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz.
The 17th of Tammuz is a minor fast day, marking the date when the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Although the 17th of Tammuz falls on July 4th, the dawn-to-dusk fast צום (Tzom Tammuz) to lament the breaching of the walls.
This mourning period ends on the 9th of Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year, the date when both the First and Second Temples were destroyed.
This three-week period is called "between the straits" (dire straits) based on Lamentations 1:3: "Judah went into exile because of affliction and great servitude; she settled among the nations, (and) found no rest; all her pursuers overtook her between the boundaries / between the straits, distress, pain." (Lamentations 1:3)
The Jewish sages explained that these straits, or, pronounced מצרים mi-tza-rim, represent the fast days of the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, which bookend the Three Weeks of Affliction. However, the heteronym מצרים (mitz-ra-im), Hebrew for Egypt, also recalls the Israelites' 400-year affliction under Pharaoh, giving added meaning to this time.
As well, this 21-day period between the two fast days in Tammuz and Av serves as a mourning period since it has historically seen a greater degree of misfortune and calamity for the Jewish People, including the breaking of the Tablets of the Law by Moses; the burning of a Sefer Torah by Apostomus during the Second Temple era; the destruction of both Temples; and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
The siege of Jerusalem and the Temples' destruction during these Three Weeks remain associated with a sense of Divine judgment. Because of that, it prompts Jewish people to avoid possible dangers throughout the period, including visiting dangerous places, flights, and major operations.
The Lead-Up to Destruction
"I called to my allies but they betrayed me. My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive. See, Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death." (Lamentations 1:19-20)
At the outset, under Roman occupation, the "affliction and great servitude" God's people had known were made worse by the prominent idolatry of Rome, which deified and worshiped its emperors; for example, only a few decades before Jerusalem's destruction, in AD 37-41, Gaius Caesar (Caligula) sought to erect an idol of himself in Solomon's Temple.
Out of Roman-Jewish religious tensions, the Jewish political party known as the Zealots, of which Yeshua's apostle Simon was a member (Matthew 10:4), employed violence and anti-taxation protests to shake the yoke of the Rome's invasive rule.
The Romans responded in AD 66 with the execution of 6,000 Jews in Jerusalem and the plundering (but not total destruction) of the Temple.
The conflict fanned the First Jewish-Roman War, or the Great Revolt. On the one side were the Roman legions (including the 30,000-strong Syrian Legion) and on the other were several Jewish factions: the Zealots, as well as the Sadducees, Pharisees, Idumeans and Sicarii, with volunteers from Adiabene, an ancient Assyrian kingdom, whose rulers converted to Judaism in the first century. (Jewish Encyclopedia)
The revolt saw great infighting among the Jewish factions within Jerusalem, while Rome attacked from without, breaching the first two of Jerusalem's three walls in early AD 70 and the third wall on the 17th of Tammuz, and then the Antonia Fortress near the Temple. Titus, the son of then-emperor Vespasian, and commander-in-chief of Rome's Jewish campaign, led the devastating siege. Following the breach, Titus slaughtered most of Jerusalem's residents and razed its buildings.
By the 9th of Av, the Romans had reached the Temple and had devastated the physical point of contact between Heaven and Earth, the Second Temple. Yeshua (Jesus) had prophesied this very destruction less than 50 years earlier: "As Yeshua was leaving the Temple, one of his disciples said to him, 'Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!' 'Do you see all these great buildings?' replied Yeshua. 'Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'" (Mark 13:1-2)
The Practice of Grief
During Shabbat services throughout the Three Weeks, Jewish congregations will read the prophetic Haftarah portions of Scripture from Isaiah and Jeremiah that speak of the Temple's destruction and the exile of the Jewish nation. Despite that, on Shabbat, the focus is one of faith and hope.
"Every Shabbat constitutes a foretaste of the Messianic Era. As such, on Shabbat we only focus on the positive element of this period," states the Chabad website, noting that the constraints of the Three Weeks, which are associated with mourning, are lifted on Shabbat.
Nevertheless, this is a mourning period, and during these 21 days rejoicing is lessened, just as it would be if we were mourning a loved one. Observant Jews will not listen to music or hold weddings and other celebrations; they will also avoid entertaining activities and trips that would provoke joy, and they will not shave or cut their hair.
The period of mourning deepens with the start of the new month of Av, whose first day this year falls on the final day of the Muslim month of Ramadan (July 17, 2015). During the first Nine Days of Av, observant Jews will not buy new things (which bring joy), plant flowers and trees, or make home improvements. They also will avoid washing clothes or wearing freshly washed clothes, bathing for pleasure (permitting bathing for hygiene in cool water), and eating meat and drinking wine.
Waiting for the Messiah
As Jewish people avoid potential dangers during the Three Weeks, they especially avoid risks during the Nine Days of Av, including litigation with non-Jews, because of the potential disadvantages it might bring. Aish website writer Zev Roth tells the true story of a Jewish family from St. Louis who flew in a small plane on Tisha b'Av (the 9th of Av). While their immediate family member Baruch fasted in Israel, and Baruch's mother stayed home, Baruch's father, brother, and sister-in-law perished in a terrible plane crash.
From not feeling much bereavement on the 9th of Av, the climax of mourning for the Temple, Baruch internalized some of the meaning of Tisha b'Av as he returned home to sit shiva (the first stage of mourning for the dead). "For the rest of my life I have that lesson internalized. Tisha b'Av is my father's and my brother's yahrtzeit (anniversary of their passing)," Baruch said.
According to Roth, the attending rabbi at the mourners' home would tell him, "You've had your own personal destruction, and you know how mourning feels. Perhaps you, with your heartfelt mourning, will be the one to bring the rebuilding of the Temple and the Jewish nation nearer." (Aish)
The Chabad website echoes this sentiment: There is more to the Three Weeks than fasting and lamentation. Our sages tell us that those who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit seeing it rebuilt with the coming of Moshiach (Messiah). May that day come soon, and then all the mournful dates on the calendar will be transformed into days of tremendous joy and happiness.
The Reason for Our Punishment
"Hear this word, people of Israel, the word the Lord has spoken against you, against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt: 'You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.'" (Amos 3:1-2) The Three Weeks inspire great thought about the individual and national shortcomings that led, and have led, Adonai to punish the nation.
Rabbi Yehudah Prero recalls the stories in the Talmud of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who saw the destruction of the Temple and the devastation to its inhabitants: "Yochanan knew that such a terrible tragedy could only occur through the hand of God. Knowing that God is nearby can and should be a source of comfort during times of pain.
Prero continues, "Pain and suffering are not the result of God deserting us. ... The punishment of a parent is to be out of love for the child, and should pain the parent as much as it pains the child. Although the child suffers, if he or she recognized that this punishment was done out of love, there is some comfort.
Prero also re-asserts rabbinic sentiment that Israel's lot is not a state of mediocrity but of completion. It, therefore, can experience fantastic heights as in the rebirth of the nation or a horrendous downfall as in the destruction of both Temples. Indeed, the Fast of Tammuz falls 40 days after the feast of Shavuot when Moses received the Ten Commandments on Har (Mount) Sinai. Like other 40-day periods in the Bible, this one closes with the opportunity to bring forth a new creation.
"A fast day is not only a sad day, but an opportune day. It's a day when we are empowered to fix the cause of that destruction, so that our long exile will be ended and we will find ourselves living in messianic times; may that be very soon," the Chabad website states. "We have an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with God. We have an opportunity to start our climb to greatness," Prero writes.
These 21 days, therefore, compel the Jewish nation to seek and return to the God of Israel and to His calling, even as the prophet Isaiah announced: "Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." (Isaiah 58:12)
The mournful meditations of the Jewish nation during the Three Weeks allow for deeper soul-searching and teshuvah (repentance).
With this is the knowledge that God longs to revive the Jewish People."This is what the high and exalted One says, he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me, the very people I have created.'" (Isaiah 57:15-16)
As the Jewish People enter this three-week period of serious teshuvah, many Jews also think on the coming of the Messiah. Our prayers for peace in Israel and for our Jewish people, that they might find their Messia, will be answered. You can play a role in God's end-time plans by making intercession for Israel and the Jewish People during these next three weeks and by standing with the work of this ministry.
"I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth." (Isaiah 62:6-7)
"For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem and show My glory to Israel." (Isaiah 46:13)
Dr. Akiva Sherman-Israeli Messianic Minister
Santa Monica, California USA
The Ten Shirot (Songs) of the Hebrew Scriptures
The Ten Shirot make their contribution as impressive historical events of Jewish history and consequently world history, as recorded in the Tanakh. The Songs begin with Creation and conclude with the song of Redemption that will prophesy concerning Messiah's first coming and herald Messiah's return. The following makes the effort by traditional standards, to put the order, title, reason, and relevant Hebrew Scriptural Text(s) that applies to each of the Ten Shirot.
First Song: "Mizmor Shir l'Yom Ha-Shabbat" " A Psalm, a Song for the Sabbath Day"
Reason: At the completion of Creation, Adam sang this song
Scripture Text: Tehillim (Psalms) Chapter 92
Second Song: "Shirah Shel Yam" or "Shirat Ha-Yam" "The Song(s) of the Sea"
Reason: With their backs against the Sea and Pharaoh's army converging down upon B'nei Yisra'el (The Children of Israel), Moshe advises the people not to fear and to "stand firm." ADONAI divided the waters in two and the fledgling Nation passes through Yam Suph (the Sea of Reeds) as on dry ground. Following behind them, the Egyptians had been thrown into a panic, and before they could escape, ADONAI caused the divided waters to return, resulting in the watery grave of Pharaoh's army. The Nation of Yisra'el had become believers, and had gone through an immer- sion, as a testimony of their freedom from bondage. This song was sung to commemorate this miraculous act of ADONAI's redemption. It must be noted that Ch 15:1 states: "I will sing," implying imperfect or a future tense, which is revealed to us as the Song of Moshe, in Revelation Ch 15:3.
Scripture Text: Sh'mot (Exodus) 14:30~15:19
Third Song: "Shirat Ha-Be'er" "The Song of the Well" (The Source of Water)
Reason: After forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert, Yisra'el finds herself on the east side of the Dead Sea, heading north between the territories of Moav and the Emori. Three previous events had shown us the k'vetching of the people because of a lack of water, and how ADONAI instructed Moshe the means by which water could be procured.The first event takes place at Marah (bitterness), and Moshe is instructed to take a certain piece of wood, and throw it into the waters making them palatable. This piece of wood was once a living tree (eytz chayim) that was healthy and vibrant. Having given up its life it transformed the bitter water into living water (Mayim Chayim), wherein it was now able to sustain life. The second event takes place at Refidim with the people, once again, quarreling and k'vetching about no water to drink. ADONAI again instructs Moshe, but this time he is to strike (nachah-wound, cause stripes, or to kill) the Rock with his staff and water would come out of it. The third event finds B'nei Yisra'el at Kadesh in the Tzin Desert, once again with no water. Quarreling ensues, Moshe and Aharon fall on their faces before the Glory of ADONAI and the instruction is given. This time however, Moshe is instructed to take the staff, assemble the community, and before their very eyes, Moshe and Aharon are to speak (plural) to the Rock and it would produce water. So the fourth event takes place somewhere perhaps between the Arnon River and the Yabok River at a place called Be'er. There is no k'vetching or quarelling, the only instruc- tion for Moshe is to assemble the people, and watch how ADONAI miraculously provides the source of water. To commemorate this miraculous event, B'nei Yisra'el breaks forth into Shirat Ha-Be'er, the Song of the Well.
Scripture Texts: Sh'mot (Exodus) 15:22~25; 17:1~7; 20:1~13;
B'midbar (Numbers) 21:16~18;
HaB'rit Chadashah I Corinthians 10:4.
Fourth Song: "Shirat Ha'azinu" "The Song to Give Ear" (listen, hear)
Reason: Coming from Parashah #53, the instruction was for Moshe to write and teach this song to B'nei Yisra'el. The purpose called for an active hearing on behalf of this generation so that they in turn would effectively pass its message down to the generations that would follow. Masterfully and prophetically the song weaves the past and the present, and in a gentle but yet stern exhortation for the future, the song embraces a per- fect harmony and like a medley each of the tenses compliments the other.
Scripture Texts: D'varim (Deuteronomy) Ch 31:19; 22; 30;Ch 32:1~52.
Fifth Song: "Shirat HaGiv'on" "The Song of Giv'on" (In the Ayalon Valley)
Reason: Concerned about the friendship between Giv'on and B'nei Yisra'el, and suspecting a military disadvantage as a result of this alliance, Adoni-Tzedek, the King of Yerushalayim with four other Emori (Amorite) Kings, staged war against Giv'on. In somewhat of a panic, Giv'on sends a plea for help to Y'hoshua (Joshua). All of his warriors, including the bravest ones marched up from Gilgal armed with the assurance of ADONAI that these Kings had already been delivered into their hands. The Scriptural account gives the source and what has become known as Shirat Giv'on: "Then, on the day ADONAI handed over the Emori to the people of Isra'el, Y'hoshua spoke to ADONA I; in the sight of Isra'el he said, "Sun, stand motionless over Giv'on! Moon, you too, over Ayalon Valley!" So the sun stood still and the moon stayed put, till Isra'el took vengeance on their enemies. This is written in the book of Yashar. The sun stood still in the sky and was in no rush to set for nearly a whole day. There has never been a day like that before or since, when ADONAI listened to the voice of a man; it hap- pened because ADONAI was fighting on Isra'el's behalf.
Scripture Text: Y'hoshua Ch 10:1~14 (above verses from the CJB)
Sefer Yashar Ch 89 Book of the Upright
Sixth Song: "Shirat Ha-D'vorah" "The Song of Deborah"
Reason: In their rebellion against ADONAI, Yisra'el was handed over to Yavin king of Kena'an. After twenty years of cruel oppression, ADONAI reveals to the Prophet D'vorah that He would hand over the armies of Yavin and his commander Sisra to Yisra'el. The song is about this defeat and it includes the blessing afforded Ya'el the wife of Hever the Keini, for her part in the demise of Sisra, as well as a brief account of the mother of Sisra, who when he does not return from battle must conjure up assumptive reasoning.
Scripture Text: Shof'tim (Judges) Chapter 4:1~5:31
Seventh Song: "Shirat HaChannah" "Channah's Prayer of Exultation"
Reason: The barren Channah in a deep depression prayerfully cries to ADONAI: "Then she took a vow; she said, "ADONAI-Tzva'ot, if you will notice how humiliated your servant is, if you will remember me and not forget your servant but will give your servant a male child, then I will give him to ADONAI for as long as he lives; and no razor will ever come on his head." After the timely completion of her prayers, ADONAI remembers her and she and her husband Elkanah are blessed with the child; Sh'mu'el (Samuel). This not only shows us the power of prayer, but it stresses the significance of dedicating and consecrating our children to the service of ADONAI.
Scripture Text: Sh'mu'el Alef (I Samuel) Ch 1-2:10
Eighth Song: "Shirat Ha-David" "The Song od David"
Reason: The tumultuous reign of King David with all of its horrors and despair is reiterated in song. More importantly is his acknowlegement of ADONAI in this song of praise for sustaining and keeping him, and for being the sole source of his victory over those who sought to destroy him, including King Sha'ul. Standing alone from all of Aseret HaShirat (TheTen Songs), we find the Song of David mentioned in two different portions of Scripture.
Scripture Texts: Sh'mu'el Bet (2 Samuel) Ch 22
Tehillim (Psalms) Ch 18 (with minor variation).
Ninth Song: "Shir HaShirim" "The Song of Songs"
Reason: Sometimes referred to as the Song of Solomon, the Hebrew: Shir HaShirim indicates the expression to be a superlative, or in other words; this song is the ultimate of Shlomo, the song that surpasses all of the one thousand and five songs that he composed as evidenced in M'lakhim Alef (1Kings) Ch 5:12. The most widely accepted theory concerning the Song is that it is an allegorical song. It is not a historical account of two lovers, but rather it symbolizes the relationship between G-d and His people. The great Talmudic period Rabbi Akiva (Ben Yoseph 40~135 ACE), had this to say about Shir HaShirim: "The whole Torah is Holy, but The Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies (another superlative)." When it came time to decide which of the ancient books would become can- onical in the Tanach, there was a big argument about this beloved text, because like the Scroll of Esther, nowhere in Shir HaShirim does the name of G-d appear. There is however an alluding to the flame of "Yah" in Ch 8:6, which is a poetic or abbrev- iated form of the Tetragrammaton, the Four Letter Personal Name of G-d. Because of its erotic content, the Song was forbidden by the Rabbis to be read by anyone under the age of thirty.
Scriptural Text: Shir HaShirim (THE Song of Solomon) Ch 1~8
Tenth Song: "Shir Chadash" (A New Song, a Medley)
"Shir HaMashiach" (The Song of Messiah)
"Shir HaMoshe" (The Song of Moses)
"Shir HaSeih" (The Song of the Lamb)
Reason: The Prophet Yesha'yahu foretold of a coming Messiah whose Name will define His character attributes. It is He who will restore the Kingdom to Yisra'el. He is born into this world as a human but He will have the inherent characteristic of Divinity. The restoration of Yisra'el is eminent, the Land of Y'hudah will have a spiritual and a physical restoration. The serpent Livyatan will be slain by ADONAI, and the planting of vineyards, Yisra'el will bud and flower, Shofar Gadol (a great shofar) will sound, the lost and the scattered will return and worship ADONAI on the Holy Mountain in Yerusha- layim. Just as B'nei Yisra'el learned and sang the Song of the Sea in their victory and redemption from the bondage of Mitzrayim (Egypt), so too will believers in heaven who have defeated the beast learn and sing the Song of the Lamb. Like the Song of Moshe the Song of the Lamb rejoices and glorifies ADONAI and His just ways of truth. Unlike the Song of Moshe, the Song of the Lamb reveals that in the final judgement it is ADONAI Who is revealed as King of the Nations, over the whole world, and all nations will come to worship Him. Yochanan (John) in Ch 1:29 states: "Hinei seih haelohim hanosei et chatat ha'aretz" "Behold the Lamb of G-d, the One Who is taking away the sin of the world."
Scripture Texts: Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) Ch 9:1~6; 26:1; 27:2; 42:10.
Z'kharyah (Zechariah) Ch 14:6~9; 16~19.
Revelation Ch 15:1~4.
Maimonides' Eight Degrees of Charity
There are eight degrees in the giving of charity, one higher than the other:
He who gives grudgingly, reluctantly, or with regret.
He who gives less than he should, but gives graciously.
He who gives what he should, but only after he is asked.
He who gives before he is asked.
He who gives without knowing to whom he gives, although the recipient knows the identity of the donor.
He who gives without making his identity known.
He who gives without knowing to whom he gives, neither does the recipient know from whom he receives.
He who helps a fellowman to support himself by a gift, or a loan, or by finding employment for him,
thus helping him to become self~supporting.
Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book
The Rabbinical Assembly of America
The United Synagogue of America
Copyright, 1946~1959 Printing
MAIMONIDES’ (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon; abbr. Rambam); 1135~1204 THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES OF JEWISH FAITH
1. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
2. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our G-d He was, He is, and He will be.
3. I believe with perfect faith that G-d does not have a body. physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all.
4. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is first and last.
5. I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to G-d. One may not pray to anyone or anything else.
6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.
8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.
9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by G-d.
10. I believe with perfect faith that G-d knows all of man's deeds and thoughts. It is thus written Tehillim (Psalms) 33:15, "He has molded every heart together, He understands what each one does."
11. I believe with perfect faith that G-d rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.
12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. How long it takes, I will await His coming every day.
13. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when G-d wills it to happen.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) once characterized the difference between Judaism and other faiths. Judaism, he said, is a religion given by G-D to define man, while the other faiths were created by man to define G-D.
It has also been said that the Greeks designed their gods to take on the forms of men, while the Jews understood that as men they were created in the image of G-D.
Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef
(est. 3~4 BCE to 29 ACE as Torah Incarnate)
1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-D, and the Word was G-D. He was with G-D in the beginning. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing made had being." Yochanan Ch 1:1~3
2. One of the Torah~teachers asked Rabbi Yeshua: "Which is the most important Mitzvah (command) of them all (613)?" Yeshua answered, "The most important is, 'Sh'ma Yisra'el, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad...." Mark 12:28~29
Rabbi Yeshua continues in Yochanan Ch 10:30: Va'ani v'ha'av echad "I and The Father are One."
Rabbi Sha'ul's Letter to the Messianic Community in Philippi, concerning Rabbi Yeshua, it states in Ch 2:10~11: "....Therefore G-D raised Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name above every name; that in honor of the Name given Yeshua, every knee will bow- in heaven, on earth and under the earth- and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua HaMashiach (The Messiah) is ADONAI (Yud Hey Vav Hey)- to the glory of G-D the Father."
שמונה עשרהShemoneh Esreh (Eighteen Blessings/Benedictions)
The Shemoneh Esreh is the central prayer or high point of the four Jewish services: Shacharit שחרית (morning prayer), Minchah מנחה(afternoon prayer),and Ma'ariv מעריב(evening prayer). These three daily prayers, established traditionally, by Ezra the Scribe, were to correspond to the three daily sacrifices in the Temple. While the Shacharit and the Minchah corresponded to the actual sacrifices the Ma'ariv corresponded to the daily burning of the organs of the daily sacrifices. A fourth service which is referred to as: Musaf מוסף(additional prayer) corresponding to additional sacrifices offered in the Temple onSabbaths, Rosh Chodesh the New Moon, Shalosh Regalim the Three Pilgrim Festivals, Rosh Hashanah the New Year, and Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement.
The Shemoneh Esreh prayer is also known as Tephillah תפלה(prayer) or Amidah עמידה(standing) the position in which the prayer is recited. The Shemoneh Esreh were not all assembled at one time and the text reflects the political and economic situation at the dates of composition. Traditionally, in part, they were decreed by the men of the Great Assembly in the 5th Century B.C.E., and some definitely originate from SecondTempletimes. Others were added and even some were proclaimed after the destruction of the SecondTemple. One of these, the blessing (benediction) directed against the heretical ideologies that were so prevalent at the time was referred to as: Birkat Haminim ברכת המינים. This particular benediction was thought to have been instituted at the Council of Yavneh by Rabbi Gamaliel, around the year 90 A.C.E. and brought the number of blessings to Nineteen.The added Heresy benediction, number Nineteen, was not as we mentioned a part of the original Eighteen Benedictions, but was aimed specifically at the Sadducces, possibly the Essenes, and others who were considered heretics because they slandered Judaism to the Roman authorities at that time. This Nineteenth benediction eventually switched places with the number Twelve Blessing of Peace, due probably in part to the way the blessings were grouped. In Babylon but not in Yisra'el, there was a "Blessing of David" added also.
All nineteen blessings are not recited at all prayer times, but vary according to the prescribed services of regular days, Sabbath Days and festival days. There are additions inserted into the blessings also, on special occasions like the 9th of Av, fasting days and on Rosh Chodesh ראשחדש(New Moon).
The Shemoneh Esreh is divided up into three main categories or groupings. The first Three Blessings constitute Praise.
1. Commemoration of the Patriarchs: Avot אבות (Fathers).
2. The Mighty Power of G-D: Geburot גבורות (Mightiness).
3. The Holiness of G-D and His Name: kedushat HaShem קדשת השם (Holiness of Name).
The next Thirteen Blessings are grouped together under the category that would constitute Petitions.
9. Year of Harvest Prosperity
10. Ingathering of the Exiles
11. Restoration of Justice
12. Destruction of Heretics
13. Rewarding the Righteous
14. Rebuild Yerushalayim
15. Restore David's Kingdom
16. Acceptance of Prayers
The last Three Blessings are grouped as blessings of Praise and Thanksgiving.
17. Restoration of the TempleService
19. Establishment of Peace
In Ha Brit Chadashah (The New Covenant/Testament) the Book of Mattityahu (Matthew) Chapter 6:9~13 and in Luke Chapter 11:2~4 we find two versions of the Talmidim's (Disciple's) Prayer, which is sometimes referred to as the L-rd's Prayer. The version as expressed in Luke, is probably closer in format to the original, but it is safe to assume that both texts were greatly influenced by liturgical use. Some scholars have suggested that the prototype of the Talmidim's Prayer is based on the Shemoneh Esreh, the Eighteen Bene- dictions or Blessings. Yet of the scholarly family, there are those who ascribe to the idea that the L-rd's Prayer is based on the Kaddish, the great liturgical prayer of praise found in the Synagogue service.
It is interesting to note however, that like Shemoneh Esreh, the Talmidim's Prayer, especially as recorded in the text of Mattityahu, is broken down into and shares similarily the Three main categories or groupings of Praise, Petition, and Praise/Thankgiving.
"Our Father in heaven! May Your Name be kept Holy. May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as (and) in heaven."
Give us the food we need today. Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us. And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.
For Kingship, power and Glory are Yours forever. Amen."
Synagogue Service during the time of Yeshua, really has not changed too dramaticaly when we compare it to our Synagogue services of today. The modern "Church Services" in some arenas have maintained early elements of what this looked like, but most Synagogues/Temples reflect a more accurate picture of what Yeshua Himself, His Talmidim and the Emmisaries experienced in their worship practices. Providing us with a panoramic view of what this looked like in Yeshua's day, Reverend Edersheim captures it beuatifully. The following excerpt was taken from one of his books:
JEWISH SOCIAL LIFE
THE DAYS OF CHRIST
REV. DR. EDERSHEIM,
Vicar of Loders, Dorset,
Author of "The Temple: its Ministry and Services," Etc.
PUBLISHED BY IRA BRADLEY & CO.
162 Washington Street
My particular copy of this book contains neither copyright information, date of publish, or any assigned Library of Congress number. I believe it was written about 1876
The Worship of the Synagogue
One of the most difficult questions in Jewish history is that connected with the existence of a synagogue within the Temple. That such a "synagogue" existed, and that its meeting-place was in "the hall of hewn stones," at the south-eastern angle of the court of the priest, cannot be called in question, in face of the clear testimony of contemporary witnesses. Considering that "the hall of hew stones" was also the meeting-place for the great Sanhedrim, and that not only legal decisions, but lectures and theological discussions formed part of their occupation, we might be tempted to conjecture that the term "synagogue" had been employed in its wider sense, since such buildings were generally used throughout the country for this two-fold purpose as well as for worship. Of theological lectures and discussions in the Temple, we have an instance on the occasion when our Lord was found by His parents "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions" (Luke 2:46). And it can scarcely be doubted, that this also explains how the scribes and Pharisees could so frequently "come upon Him," while He taught in the Temple, with their difficult and entangling questions, up to that rejoinder about the nature of the Messiah, with which He finally silenced them: "If David then call Him Lord, how is He his Son?" (Matt 22:45). But in reference to the so-called "Temple-synagogue," there is this difficulty, that certain prayers and rites seem to have been connected with it, which formed no part of the regular Temple services, and yet were somehow engrafted upon them. We can therefore only conclude that the growing change in the theological views of Israel, before and about the time of Christ, made the Temple services alone appear insufficient. The symbolical and typical elements which constituted the life and centre of Temple worship had lost their spiritual meaning and attraction to the majority of that generation, and their place was becoming occupied by so-called teaching and outward performances. Thus the worship of the letter took the place of that of the spirit, and Israel was preparing to reject Christ for Pharisaism. The synagogue was substituted for the Temple, and overshadowed it, even within its walls, by an incongruous mixture of man-devised worship with the God-ordained typical rites of the sanctuary. Thus, so far from the "Temple-synagogue" being the model for those throughout the country, as some writers maintain, it seems to us of later origin, and to have borrowed many rites from the country synagogues, in which the people had become accustomed to them.
The subject has a far deeper than merely historical interest. For the presence of a synagogue within the Temple, or rather, as we prefer to put it, the addition of synagogue-worship to that of the Temple, is sadly symbolical. It is, so to speak, one of those terribly significant utterances (by deed), in which Israel, all unconsciously, pronounced its own doom, just as was this: "His blood be upon us and our children," or the cry for the release of Barabbas (the son of the father), who had been condemned "for sedition" and "murder"— doubt in connection with a pseudo-Messianic rising against the Roman power— of the true Son of the Father, who would indeed have "restored the kingdom to Israel." And yet there was nothing in the worship itself of the synagogue which could have prevented either the Lord, or His apostles and early followers, from attending it till the time of final separation had come. Readers of the New Testament know what precious opportunities it offered for making known the Gospel. Its services were, indeed, singularly elastic. For the main object of the synagogue was the teaching of the people. The very idea of its institution, before and at the time of Ezra, explains and conveys this, and it is confirmed by the testimony of Josephus (Ag. Apion, ii, 157-172). But perhaps the ordinary reader of the New Testament may have failed to notice, how prominently this element in the synagogue is brought out in the gospel history. Yet the word "teaching" is used so frequently in connection with our Lord's appearance in the synagogue, that its lesson is obvious (see Matt 4:23; Mark 1:21, 6:2; Luke 4:15, 6:6, 13:10; John 6:59, 18:20). The "teaching" part of the service consisted mainly in reading a section from the law, with which the reading of a portion from the prophets, and a sermon, or address, were conjoined. Of course, the liturgical element could in such services never have been quite wanting, and it soon acquired considerable importance. It consisted of prayer and the pronouncing of the Aaronic blessing (Num 6:24-26) by priests— is, of course, not by Rabbis, who were merely teachers or doctors, but by lineal descendants of the house of Aaron. There was no service of "praise" in the synagogues.
Public worship1 commenced on ordinary occasions with the so-called "Shema," which was preceded in the morning and evening by two "benedictions," and succeeded in the morning by one, and in the evening by two, benedictions; the second being, strictly speaking, an evening prayer.
1 Our description here applies to the worship of the ancient, not of the modern synagogue; and we have thought it best to confine ourselves to the testimony of the Mishnah, so as to avoid the danger of bringing in practices of a later date.
The "Shema" was a kind of "belief," or "creed," composed of these three passages of Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41. It obtained its name from the initial word "shema": "Hear, O Israel," in Deuteronomy 6:4. From the Mishnah (Ber. 1. 3) we learn, that this part of the service existed already before the time of our Lord; and we are told (Ber. iii. 3), that all males were bound to repeat this belief twice every day; children and slaves, as well as women, being exempted from the obligation. There can be no reasonable doubt on the subject, as the Mishnah expressly mentions the three Scriptural sections of the "Shema," the number of benedictions before and after it, and even the initial words of the closing benediction (Ber. ii. 2, i. 4; Tamid, v. 1). We have, therefore, here certain prayers which our Lord Himself had not only heard, but in which He must have shared— what extent will appear in the sequel. These prayers still exist in the synagogue, although with later additions, which, happily, it is not difficult to eliminate. Before transcribing them, it may be quoted as a mark of the value attached to them, that it was lawful to say this and the other daily prayers— which we shall hereafter refer— the "grace at meat," not only in the Hebrew, but in any other language, in order to secure a general understanding of the service (Sotah, vii. 1). At the same time, expressions are used which lead us to suppose that, while the liturgical formulae connected with the "Shema" were fixed, there were local variations, in the way of lengthening or shortening
(Ber. i. 4). The following are the "benedictions" before the "Shema," in their original form:
1. "Blessed be Thou, O Lord, King of the world, Who formest the light and createst the darkness, Who makest peace and createst everything; Who, in mercy, givest light to the earth and to those who dwell upon it, and in Thy goodness day by day and every day renewest the works of creation. Blessed be the Lord our God for the glory of His handiwork and for the light-giving lights which He has made for His praise. Selah! Blessed be the Lord our God, Who hath formed the lights." 2
2 This "benediction," while acknowledging the Creator, has such frequent reference to God in connection with the "lights," that it reads like a confession of Israel against the idolatries of Babylon. This circumstance may help to fix the time of its origination.
2. "With great love hast Thou loved us, O Lord our God, and with much overflowing pity hast Thou pitied us, our Father and our King. For the sake of our fathers who trusted in Thee, and Thou taughtest them the statutes of life, have mercy upon us and teach us. Enlighten our eyes in Thy law; cause our hearts to cleave to Thy commandments; unite our hearts to love and fear Thy name, and we shall not be put to shame, world without end. For Thou art a God Who preparest salvation, and us hast Thou chosen from among all nations and tongues, and hast in truth brought us near to Thy great Name—— we may lovingly praise Thee and Thy Oneness. Blessed be the Lord Who in love chose His people Israel."3
3 This reads peculiarly like the thanksgiving of Israel as G-D's Covenant people.
After this followed the "Shema." The Mishnah gives the following beautiful explanation of the order in which the portions of Scripture of which it is composed are arranged (Ber. ii. 2). The section Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is said to precede that in 11:13-21, so that we might "take upon ourselves the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, and only after that the yoke of the commandments." Again: Deuteronomy 11:13-21 precedes Numbers 15:37-41, because the former applies, as it were, both night and day; the latter only by day. The reader cannot fail to observe the light cast by the teaching of the Mishnah upon the gracious invitation of our Lord: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30). These words must indeed have had a special significance to those who remembered the Rabbinic lesson as to the relation between the kingdom of heaven and the commandments, and they would now understand how by coming to the Saviour they would first take upon them "the yoke of the kingdom of heaven," and then that of "the commandments," finding this "yoke easy" and the "burden light."
The prayer after the "Shema" was as follows: 4
4 In the form here given it is older than even the prayer referred to in the Mishnah (Ber. ii. 2).
"True it is, that Thou art Jehovah our God and the God of our fathers, our King and the King of our fathers, our Saviour and the Saviour of our fathers, our Creator, the Rock of our salvation, our Help and our Deliverer. Thy Name is from everlasting, and there is no God beside Thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to Thy Name by the seashore; together did all praise and own Thee King, and say, Jehovah shall reign world without end! Blessed be the Lord Who saveth Israel!"
The anti-Sadducean views expressed in this prayer will strike the student of that period, while he will also be much impressed with its suitableness and beauty. The special prayer for the evening is of not quite so old a date as the three just quoted. But as it is referred to in the Mishnah, and is so apt and simple, we reproduce it, as follows:
"O Lord our God! cause us to lie down in peace, and raise us up again to life, O our King! Spread over us the tabernacle of Thy peace; strengthen us before Thee in Thy good counsel, and deliver us for Thy Name's sake. Be Thou for protection round about us; keep far from us the enemy, the pestilence, the sword, famine, and affliction. Keep Satan from before and from behind us, and hide us in the shadow of Thy wings, for Thou art a God Who helpest and deliverest us; and Thou, O God, art a gracious and merciful King. Keep Thou our going out and our coming in, for life and for peace, from henceforth and for ever!"5
5 To this prayer a further addition was made at a later period. On the whole, compare Zunz, GottesdVortr. p. 367 etc.
The "Shema" and its accompanying "benedictions" seem to have been said in the synagogue at the lectern; whereas for the next series of prayers the leader of the devotions went forward and stood before "the ark." Hence the expression, "to go up before the ark," for leading in prayer. This difference in position seems implied in many passages of the Mishnah (specially Megillah, iv.), which makes a distinction between saying the "Shema" and "going up before the ark." The prayers offered before the ark consisted of the so-called eighteen eulogies, or benedictions, and formed the "tephillah," or supplication, in the strictest sense of the term. These eighteen, or rather, as they are now, nineteen, eulogies are of various dates— earliest being the first three and the last three. There can be no reasonable doubt that these were said at worship in the synagogues, when our Lord was present. Next in date are eulogies 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 16. Eulogy 7, which in its present position seems somewhat incongruous, dates from a period of great national calamity— the time of Pompey. The other eulogies, and some insertions in the older benedictions, were added after the fall of the Jewish commonwealth— 12 especially being intended against the early Jewish converts to Christianity. In all likelihood it had been the practice originally to insert prayers of private composition between the (present) first three and last three eulogies; and out of these the later eulogies were gradually formulated. At any rate, we know that on Sabbaths and on other festive occasions only the first three and the last three eulogies were repeated, other petitions being inserted between them. There was thus room for the endless repetitions and "long prayers" which the Saviour condemned (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). Besides, it must be borne in mind that, both on entering and leaving the synagogue, it was customary to offer prayer, and that it was a current Rabbinical saying, "Prolix prayer prolongeth life." But as we are sure that, on the Sabbaths when Our Lord attended the synagogues at Nazareth and Capernaum, the first three and the last three of the eulogies were repeated, we produce them here, as follows:
1. "Blessed be the Lord our God and the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; the great, the mighty, and the terrible God; the Most High God, Who showeth mercy and kindness, Who createth all things, Who remembereth the gracious promises to the fathers, and bringeth a Saviour to their children's children, for His own Name's sake, in love. O King, Helper, Saviour, and Shield! Blessed art Thou, O Jehovah, the Shield of Abraham."
2. "Thou, O Lord, art mighty for ever; Thou, Who quickenest the dead, art mighty to save. In Thy mercy Thou preservest the living; Thou quickenest the dead; in Thine abundant pity Thou bearest up those who fall, and healest those who are diseased, and loosest those who are bound, and fulfillest Thy faithful word to those who sleep in the dust. Who is like unto Thee, Lord of strength, and who can be compared to Thee, Who killest and makest alive, and causest salvation to spring forth? And faithful art Thou to give life unto the dead. Blessed be Thou, Jehovah, Who quickenest the dead!"
3. "Thou art holy, and Thy Name is holy; and the holy ones praise Thee every day. Selah! Blessed art Thou, Jehovah God, the Holy One!"
It is impossible not to feel the solemnity of these prayers. They breathe the deepest hopes of Israel in simple, Scriptural language. But who can fully realise their sacred import as uttered not only in the Presence, but by the very lips of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who Himself was their answer?
The three concluding eulogies were as follows:
17. "Take gracious pleasure, O Jehovah our God, in Thy people Israel, and in their prayers. Accept the burnt-offerings of Israel, and their prayers, with thy good pleasure; and may the services of Thy people Israel be ever acceptable unto Thee. And oh that our eyes may see it, as Thou turnest in mercy to Zion! Blessed be Thou, O Jehovah, Who restoreth His Shechinah to Zion!"
18. "We praise Thee, because Thou art Jehovah our God, and the God of our fathers, for ever and ever. Thou art the Rock of our life, the Shield of our salvation, from generation to generation. We laud Thee, and declare Thy praise for our lives which are kept within Thine hand, and for our souls which are committed unto Thee, and for Thy wonders which are with us every day, and Thy wondrous deeds and Thy goodnesses, which are at all seasons—, morning, and mid-day. Thou gracious One, Whose compassions never end; Thou pitying One, Whose grace never ceaseth— ever do we put our trust in Thee! And for all this Thy Name, O our King, be blessed and extolled always, for ever and ever! And all living bless Thee—— praise Thy Name in truth, O God, our Salvation and our Help. Blessed art Thou, Jehovah; Thy Name is the gracious One, to Whom praise is due."
19. 6 "Oh bestow on Thy people Israel great peace, for ever; for Thou art King and Lord of all peace, and it is good in Thine eyes to bless Thy people Israel with praise at all times and in every hour. Blessed art Thou, Jehovah, Who blesseth His people Israel with peace."
6 We give this eulogy in its shorter form, as it is at present used in evening prayer.
Another act, hitherto, so far as we know, unnoticed, requires here to be mentioned. It invests the prayers just quoted with a new and almost unparalleled interest. According to the Mishnah (Megillah, iv. 5), the person who read in the synagogue the portion from the prophets was also expected to say the "Shema," and to offer the prayers which have just been quoted. It follows that, in all likelihood, our Lord Himself had led the devotions in the synagogue of Capernaum on that Sabbath when He read the portion from the prophecies of Isaiah which was that day "fulfilled in their hearing" (Luke 4:16-21). Nor is it possible to withstand the impression, how specially suitable to the occasion would have been the words of these prayers, particularly those of eulogies 2 and 17.
The prayers were conducted or repeated aloud by one individual, specially deputed for the occasion, the congregation responding by an "Amen." The liturgical service concluded with the priestly benediction (Num 6:23,24), spoken by the descendants of Aaron. In case none such were present, "the legate of the Church," as the leader of the devotions was called, repeated the words from the Scriptures in their connection. In giving the benediction, the priests elevated their hands up to the shoulders (Sotah, vii. 6); in the Temple, up to the forehead. Hence this rite is designated by the expression, "the lifting up of the hands." 7
7 The apostle may have had this in his mind when, in directing the order of public ministration, he spoke of "the men...lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting" (1 Tim 2:8). At any rate, the expression is precisely the same as that used by the Rabbis.
According to the present practice, the fingers of the two hands are so joined together and separated as to form five interstices; and a mystic meaning attaches to this. It was a later superstition to forbid looking at the priests' hands, as involving physical danger. But the Mishnah already directs that priests having blemishes on their hands, or their fingers dyed, were not to pronounce the benediction, lest the attention of the people should be attracted. Of the attitude to be observed in prayer, this is perhaps scarcely the place to speak in detail. Suffice it, that the body was to be fully bent, yet so, that care was taken never to make it appear as if the service had been burdensome. One of the Rabbis tells us, that, with this object in view, he bent down as does a branch; while, in lifting himself up again, he did it like a serpent— with the head! Any one deputed by the rulers of a congregation might say prayers, except a minor. This, however, applies only to the "Shema." The eulogies or "tephillah" proper, as well as the priestly benediction, could not be pronounced by those who were not properly clothed, nor by those who were so blind as not to be able to discern daylight. If any one introduced into the prayers heretical views, or what were regarded as such, he was immediately stopped; and, if any impropriety had been committed, was put under the ban for a week. One of the most interesting and difficult questions relates to certain modes of dress and appearance, and certain expressions used in prayer, which the Mishnah (Megillah, iv. 8,9) declares either to mark heresy or to indicate that a man was not to be allowed to lead prayers in the synagogue. It may be, that some of these statements refer not only to certain Jewish "heretics," but also to the early Jewish Christians. If so, they may indicate certain peculiarities with which they were popularly credited.8
8 The Gemara (Ber. 33 b, 34 a) adds little to our understanding of this important question.
Of the services hitherto noticed, the most important were the repetition of the eulogies and the priestly benediction. What now followed was regarded as quite as solemn, if, indeed, not more so. It has already been pointed out, that the main object of the synagogue was the teaching of the people. This was specially accomplished by the reading of the law. At present the Pentateuch is for this purpose arranged into fifty-four sections, of which one is read on each successive Sabbath of the year, beginning immediately after the feast of Tabernacles. But anciently the lectionary, at least in Palestine, seems to have been differently arranged, and the Pentateuch so divided that its reading occupied three, or, according to some, three and a-half years (half a Jubilee-period).9
9 For these reasons I cannot adopt the views and inferences so ably stated by Mr. Basil Cooper in his papers on "The Synagogue," in the Sunday at Home for 1876, however interesting.
The section for the day was subdivided, so that every Sabbath at least seven persons were called up to read, each a portion, which was to consist of not less than three verses. The first reader began, and the last closed, with a benediction. As the Hebrew had given place to the Aramaic, a "meturgeman," or interpreter, stood by the side of the reader, and translated verse by verse into the vernacular. It was customary to have service in the synagogues, not only on Sabbaths and feast-days, but also on the second and fifth days of the week (Monday and Thursday), when the country-people came to market, and when the local Sanhedrim also sat for the adjudication of minor causes. At such week-day services only three persons were called up to read in the law; on new moon's day and on the intermediate days of a festive week, four; on festive days— a section from the prophets was also read— and on the day of atonement, six. Even a minor was allowed to read, and, if qualified, to act as "meturgeman." The section describing the sin of Reuben, and that giving a second account of the sin of the golden calf, were read, but not interpreted; those recounting the priestly blessing, and, again, the sin of David and of Amnon, were neither read nor interpreted. The reading of the law was followed by a lesson from the prophets. At present there is a regular lectionary, in which these lessons are so selected as to suit the sections from the law appointed for the day. This arrangement has been traced to the time of the Syrian persecutions, when all copies of the law were sought for and destroyed; and the Jewish authorities are supposed to have selected portions from the prophets to replace those from the law which might not be produced in public. But it is evident that, if these persecuting measures had been rigidly enforced, the sacred rolls of the prophets would not have escaped destruction any more than those of the law. Besides, it is quite certain that such a lectionary of the prophets as that presently in use did not exist at the time of our Lord, nor even when the Mishnah was collated. Considerable liberty seems to have been left to individuals; and the expression used by St. Luke in reference to our Lord in the synagogue at Capernaum (Luke 4:17), "And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written," most accurately describes the state of matters. For, from Megillah iv. 4, we gather that, in reading from the prophets, it was lawful to pass over one or more verses, provided there were no pause between the reading and the translation of the "meturgeman." For here also the services of a "meturgeman" were employed; only that he did not, as in reading the law, translate verse by verse, but after every three verses. It is a remarkable fact that the Rabbis exclude from public reading the section in the prophecies of Ezekiel which describes "the chariot and wheels." Rabbi Elieser would also have excluded that in Ezekiel 16:2.
The reading of the prophets was often followed by a sermon or address, with which the service concluded. The preacher was called "darshan," and his address a "derashah" (homily, sermon, from "darash," to ask, inquire, or discuss). When the address was a learned theological discussion— in academies— was not delivered to the people directly, but whispered into the ear of an "amora," or speaker, who explained to the multitude in popular language the weighty sayings which the Rabbi had briefly communicated to him. A more popular sermon, on the other hand, was called a "meamar," literally, a "speech, or talk." These addresses would be either Rabbinical expositions of Scripture, or else doctrinal discussions, in which appeal would be made to tradition and to the authority of certain great teachers. For it was laid down as a principle (Eduj. i. 3), that "every one is bound to teach in the very language of his teacher." In view of this two-fold fact, we can in some measure understand the deep impression which the words of our Lord produced, even on those who remained permanently uninfluenced by them. The substance of His addresses was far other than they had ever heard of, or conceived possible. It seemed as if they opened quite a new world of thought, hope, duty, and comfort. No wonder that even in contemptuous Capernaum "all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth"; and that the very Temple-guard sent to make Him prisoner were overawed, and before the council could only give this account of their strange negligence: "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). Similarly, the form also of His teaching was so different from the constant appeal of the Rabbis to mere tradition; it seemed all to come so quite fresh and direct from heaven, like the living waters of the Holy Spirit, that "the people were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt 7:28,29).