Torah Commentary – Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf) – SCRIPTURES FOR Jun 17, 2017

Torah Commentary
Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf)
Numbers 13:1-15:41
Joshua 2:1-24
Hebrews 3:7-19

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The Tourists Connection
If a list were made of the top ten stories the Hebrews are known for during their sojourn in the wilderness, the account of the twelve spies would certainly be found. Many fingers have been pointed at the faithless reports given by the ten spies. Is there a deeper level of understanding regarding the reason behind the difference in the statements shared by the ten versus the two? Could we find another lesson from their experience that can give instruction to us today? Let’s see.
The Hebrew word translated as spies is “tuwr.” It is interesting that the word sounds like our English word “tour”, though it is not the actual root of the word. We can use the comparison to draw a lesson. We can look at these men, not as it describes as “in the Land”, but rather as tourists? At the time, they were travelers, not dwellers. Consider, after all, when they returned to camp they brought back souvenirs of fruit of the land to show off. The fruitful bounty could have been inspiration to take the Land as Yah directed. Yet, it is not what they brought back on their shoulders which truly mattered, instead, it was what was in their hearts.
It is hard to envision the immense feast of produce these men saw or the terror of the massive size of its inhabitants during their “tour.” A few years back a section of the wall of Hevron was found that dates back to the time of Scripture. On one of my trips in Israel I was able to visit that section of unearthed wall. I remember just staring at it. I have always had a connection to Joshua. The haftorah readings for the Torah portion related to my birthday are verses in the first section of Joshua. That day at the wall I just stood and stared as I considered that ancient stone and pondered whether it may have been a spot Joshua had fixed his own eyes upon.
All twelve of the men saw the same sites, ate the same food and walked the same soil, so why the different accounts given upon their return? Most would say it was based on their level of faith which to some measure, I agree with. Going back to our original question whether we have another lesson from the spies experience, let us consider this point of view. I believe we can also reflect on the word “connect”. Joshua and Caleb connected with the Land. They were able to see past the giants inhabiting the area, even the bountiful harvest. It was their King’s Land. He was calling them to possess His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Their heart connection to Yah instilled a deep passionate connection for His Land, their inheritance. It appears the other ten did not make this connection.
My friend and brother Hanoch Young says it best, if you connect with the Land, the Land will connect with you. For Joshua and Caleb, the Land became a part of their very hearts. Sadly it seems for the others it was just another random handful of dirt.
As with Joshua and Caleb, you and I will fight for our heart’s desires and what and who we are connected to. That connection will manifest itself in actions which may in the end be termed faith, but faith begins with the relationship established in our heart.
What did Joshua and Caleb connect to? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 11:12 which reveals to us that the eyes of Yah are continually on that Land. Eyes do not lead your heart, they follow your heart. What your eyes gaze upon is an outward manifestation of where your heart is.
The eyes and hearts of Joshua and Caleb connected with the eyes and heart of the Father Himself. This is why they were allowed to enter the Land and would later give their very lives to possess it. (Click to Article)

 

Torah Commentary – B’ha’alotcha (When you set up) – Moving With the Cloud – SCRIPTURES FOR Jun 10, 2017

Torah Commentary
B’ha’alotcha (When you set up)
Numbers 8:1-12:16
Zechariah 2:14-4:7
John 19:31-37
Hebrews 3:1-6

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Moving With the Cloud
I have heard it said so many times that the Hebrews “Wandered” in the wilderness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In Chapter Nine of this Torah portion it speaks of the Cloud which covered the Tabernacle. We read that as long as the Cloud stayed over the Tabernacle the peoples were to remain camped and as the Cloud moved, they were to move.  I would not call being guided by a Cloud of His Glory simply ‘wandering’.  I would refer to it as being “guided by His hand.” But what about us today? Are our lives guided at that same level?  My answer is yes. The only difference between  them and us is in their day they could see the Cloud with physical eyes. Today? For those who desire, we see the Cloud with spiritual eyes. He is still in the guiding business.
Of course, there are times in our lives in which we wonder if we are seeing very well, times we are looking for the cloud, but it seems more like a fog. What are we to do in those times? The answer is maybe too simple; trust and keep walking.
Go back to the first verses of the Torah portion. It speaks about the Menorah and a concept I have taught on many times. The Menorah was to be placed in the Tabernacle in such a way that the light would shine forward.  Message here; one I lived out recently.
This past weekend I went to Amarillo, TX to teach on the Tabernacle. Due to the fact I take the representation of the Tabernacle with me, I could not fly, but had to drive. 2508 miles in 5 days! It was a great time in Amarillo, but the last miles of the drive were a bit brutal. It had been lightly raining off and on most of the day so I had to keep a real watch for all the crazies on the road. I finally made it to the last leg of the trip, which is over a mountain pass. That is where the clouds I had seen in the distance now became a fog, which enveloped me. What was I to do? Pull over and stop? Absolutely not! My destination was too close. I slowed down a bit, made sure my lights were on and kept going. A few miles later I broke out of the fog and into some of the most beautiful mountain scenery I had ever seen.
What is my point? Many people I speak to believe themselves to be in a fog today. What is fog? It is a cloud which has come to our level. Maybe what you think is a fog today is really His Cloud, which has come to your level. Keep walking and see where it takes you.
One of the major points of this portion is found at the beginning of Chapter 11. It says they were complaining about their hardships. Really now? They are free people who have been given the Torah, Yah’s presence in their midst, an unlimited supply of fresh water to drink and bread which appears ever morning for their enjoyment. Besides that, they are walking in total health and their clothing and shoes are not wearing out. I am just not feeling the hardship going on here and apparently neither is The Almighty! To add further insult to injury they turn their minds back to the fish, cucumbers, melons, etc they ate in Egypt and say, “It cost us nothing!” Hold the bus here! Now how much are they paying for the free medical care, extended wear clothing, water and manna? I don’t read anywhere that they were being charged.
We could of course point our fingers at them all day on this one. Especially since none of us have ever uttered a word of unmerited complaint in our lives…?

(Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – Naso (Take) – He Will Kneel Before – SCRIPTURES FOR Jun 3, 2017

Torah Commentary
Naso (Take)
Numbers 4:21-7:89
Judges 13:2-25
John 7:53-8:11
Acts 21:17-32

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He Will Kneel Before
This Torah portion continues the theme of  “Nasa,” or the lifting up of the head of one who was once in slavery. It further reveals that the lifting up of the head is not only to see a destiny, but to realize that you have a responsibility to help others in reaching theirs. When we are all working within this concept it is called community, or in this case, a nation called Israel.
Located in the center of this Torah portion are the words of what is termed the Aaronic Blessing. The stated purpose in 6:27 of these words is to place His name upon His people. Question before we go on: will He only place His name on those who have lifted their heads, looked to their destiny and begun to walk in community? The answer is one for you to consider.
So what are these words of blessing all about? My personal understanding has grown much over the years. It began with the placing of this blessing within a small booklet of a sample New Moon service. (Working on an update to this soon.) A friend of mine was helping with this booklet and inserted a translation of the Aaronic Blessing by Jeff Benner of  http://ancient-hebrew.org/. Here is the translation:
“He who exists will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection; He who exists will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order and he will beautify you; He who exists will lift up his wholeness of being and look upon you and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete.”  Num 6:24-26
I remember the first time I read this translation. “He who exists will kneel before you.” I had a tough time with those words, until I thought of how I also would give gifts to my then small son. I would kneel to his level. Our Father does the same with us. Ponder that one for a bit.
The words of this blessing went to a new level not too long ago. I was considering the meaning of the word “barak,” which is translated as “bless”. Its literal meaning is to kneel before. As I was pondering this word a picture came to my mind. It is an experience I have told on few occasions, but never written about.
It happened on my first trip to Israel. At the end of the short tour, part of our group went to a Messianic congregation in Jerusalem. In a crazy turn of events for me, I was asked to speak. I looked out at the people and my heart melted. I wanted to do something to show someone my appreciation for my experience in Israel. Father’s timing was about to be played out in a way I could never have orchestrated on my own. I said to the congregation that if I had water I would wash the feet of the leaders. Looking back, it was not about the leaders, but about all I had come in contact with during my tour. I continued speaking about something and then I saw the front door of the building open. There was a lady with a basin of water, soap and a towel. She walked up right in front of me and said, “Were you serious?” What was I to do? One by one that night I “barak,” knelt before the leaders and washed their feet. Words can not express what happened in me that night or what life has been since.
Consider now the words of Gen 12:3, “I will barak, (kneel before) those who barak, (kneel before) you.”  (Click to Article)

 

Naso – Take – “A Prayer of Peace” – 03 June 2017 – 09 Sivan 5777

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by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

This week’s Torah portion, Naso or “Take,” has a diverse variety of subjects to contemplate. It begins by completing the instructions about the Levites that concluded Bamidbar(Numbers 1:1-4:20).[1] This census has been conducted to number the three Levite clans that were responsible for the Tabernacle and its transportation. The Gershonites, the Merarites, and the Kohathites have each been given specific duties and tasks.[2]Interestingly, unlike some of the other Israelites who were qualified for military service and numbered from twenty years and older, the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty to the age of fifty (Numbers 4:3). Apparently, the rigorous tasks of handling the Tabernacle required considerable strength, which is something that can be realized when one sees how the term rendered as “service,” tzavah, can also mean “army service” (CHALOT).[3] This does not necessarily mean that the Levitical priests would fight in battle, but the degree of dedication and rigor was certainly no different than being a soldier. Jacob Milgrom observes how Levites who were older than fifty did not necessarily “retire,” but instead acted as mentors, while handling some of the liturgical responsibilities of canting and reciting various psalms:

“A Levite male, in the prime of his life, during the years from 30 to 50, would be given responsibility for the arduous tasks of maintaining the tabernacle (and later the Temple). After age 50, his new tasks would require more wisdom and less physical strength: singing the Psalms, opening and closing the gates, and acting as mentor to younger Levites.”[4]

As each of us advances in age, in our service to the Lord, what new opportunities might He open up for us?

Numbers ch. 5 continues our parashah and explains in detail what is commonly referred to as the “law of jealousy.” Here, specific instructions deal with a ritual that is performed in the event a husband is suspicious of his wife’s fidelity. Numbers ch. 6 describes Nazirite vows, with the specific requirements laid forth that are to be performed by the men and women who seek to dedicate themselves to the Lord in this special ritual. At the end of this chapter, what is commonly known as the “Aaronic Benediction” is recorded (Numbers 6:22-27). Finally, Numbers ch. 7 describes what is dedicated to the Lord by each of the different tribes as the Tabernacle is finished and consecrated. A tremendous statement by Moses that indicates how intimately the Lord communicated with him, concludes this parashah:

“Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him” (Numbers 7:89).

The Power of the Aaronic Benediction

I could spend a great deal of time contemplating the nuances of the Levitical census, the particulars of the “law of jealousy,” a deeper meaning of the Nazirite vow, or even different aspects of the offerings made by the twelve tribes as the Tabernacle is set apart. However, as it so happens, in the past few days a very special event has occurred with my daughter Maggie, which allows me to instead focus on the blessing that Aaron was originally commanded to speak over the people of Ancient Israel.

This past week (2006), in conjunction with our local commemoration of the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot, my fourteen year-old daughter Maggie participated in her bat mitzvah here in Orlando. As a part of her ceremony, she not only delivered a short teaching on the Torah portion, Naso, after reading the first few verses in Hebrew, but she also canted the Aaronic benediction in Hebrew. As you can imagine, this was a very special time for our family.

This event, in many ways, marks a milestone for our family. Maggie will be the first child in her generation to have gone through the formality of becoming a “daughter of the commandments.” For nearly eleven years (since 1995), our family has been faithfully involved in the Messianic movement, as we have grown in our understanding of how the Father truly wants us to conduct our lives. While we have each had baptisms, dedications, and various religious confirmations over the years (which are somewhat close to the tradition of bar/bat mitzvah), this is the first time that someone in our family will have come full circle in our return to the ways of Yeshua and His Jewish Disciples.

Maggie was just three years old when we first began attending a Messianic Jewish congregation. Her testimony, which was a part of her dedication, included her impressions about the very first time she heard a Messianic Jewish rabbi utter the Aaronic blessing over our family in the assembly when she was not even four years old. Over the years, Maggie has become thoroughly “Messianic,” as she now excels in Davidic dance.

Until I read Maggie’s testimony, I never fully realized how she was impacted as a small child by the Aaronic Benediction that was proclaimed over us weekly in our early days in the Messianic community. To me, I am extremely blessed to now know that she was sincerely moved by these proclamations. For her to have this particular Torah portion as her bat mitzvah reading is very special to our family.

In the midst of describing the census of the Levites, the law of jealousy, the Nazirite vows, and the Tabernacle dedication materials offered by the various tribes—there is a pause in the narrative of Naso that inserts this special prayer that was to be uttered by the high priest over Israel. Here is the instruction:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.’ So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them” (Numbers 6:22-27).

Y’varekh’kha ADONAI v’yishmerekha.

Ya’er ADONAI panav eleikha vichunekha.

Yissa ADONAI panav eleikha v’yasem l’kha shalom.

In this prayer to be declared over the Israelites, the priest is directed to bless his listeners with specific words. He is to invoke the blessings of the Lord, by asking the Lord to bless the people and to reveal Himself to them by His peace. No other blessing can be greater, than the one of being blessed by the Heavenly Father. Human beings cannot seek a superior blessing from anything created by our Creator, although they can surely invoke the Creator’s favor upon others.

“The Lord bless you, and keep you”

In the opening verse of the Aaronic Benediction, the priest issues the word, “The LORD bless you and protect you!” (Numbers 6:24, NJPS). What does it fully mean for God to “keep” His people? The Hebrew verb commonly translated “keep” is shamar, which in the Qal stem (simple action, active voice) means “to keep, watch over,” “to take care of, preserve, protect,” and “to keep > to watch, observe” (HALOT).[5] It appears some 479 times in the Tanakh.[6] In many regards, the Aaronic Benediction asks the Holy One of Israel to vigilantly keep His watch over His people. Psalm 121 comes to mind as we recognize that our Heavenly Father never slumbers or sleeps. In this psalm, the Lord is actually identified as our keeper:

“A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel [shomeir Yisrael]will neither slumber or sleep. The LORD is your keeper [ADONAI shom’rekha]; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 121:1-8).

When you think about it, who else would you rather have as your keeper? Our Heavenly Father is an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God who is constantly aware of everything that is happening throughout His universe. To have Him keep His watch over our every thought and deed is a remarkable reality! Asking Him to be vigilant in this regard is specifically designed to bring about His protection at all times.

“The Lord make His face shine on you,
and be gracious to you”

The Aaronic Benediction continues, stating, “The LORD deal kindly and graciously with you!” (Numbers 6:25, NJPS). Much more literally, Ya’er ADONAI panav eleikha, is translated with “The LORD make His face shine on you” (NASU). The Hebrew word panim, “face,” is used to direct hearers to note the Lord turning Himself, His attention, and His majesty toward His people.

The Holy One is to turn Himself and His attention toward His people, and in so doing, His favor or grace will be evident to those who He looks upon. Nothing can quite compare to the favor of God! In Numbers 6:25, we see the verb chanan used, related to the noun chenor “favor.” These are actually important root words for a variety of common male and female English names found today, such as John, Johanna, Hanna, Ann, Jane, or Nancy—all of which imply “God is gracious.”[7] It should be obvious that seeking the favor of God is a request that is a vital part of Aaronic Benediction.

“The Lord lift up His countenance on you”

While it might be difficult to detect in some English translations of Numbers 6:26, a version like the NIV is actually more true to the source text in rendering the Hebrew panim a second time as “face”: “the LORD turn his face toward you.” Other versions render panim as “countenance” (RSV, NASU, NRSV, ESV), with the NJPS having “favor.” Does this really matter? Is this not just a stylistic issue?

Looking through my English NASU, I found that the first time that panim was rendered as “countenance” came early in the Book of Genesis, where the text described the differences between Abel and Cain. In this passage, you can detect that panim means much more than just a face:

“Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance [panim] fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance [panim] fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it’” (Genesis 4:4-7).

Here, we detect that one’s countenance is more like his or her essential being. Obviously, Cain’s innate personhood was being challenged by God. And so, when the Aaronic Benediction is declared and the Lord’s countenance is to be lifted upon His people, this may be interpreted to mean that His essential character be made manifest. Can you imagine what a blessing it is when people not only have the Father’s attentive looks, but most importantly, allow His countenance to then be reflected in their actions? I cannot perceive of a greater blessing than when the Aaronic Benediction actually results in people exhibiting the very character of the Most High!

“And give you peace”

Finally, as a result of these awesome blessings, the Aaronic Benediction concludes with the word: “and give you peace” (Numbers 6:26). The peace of God, of course, is a complete understanding that He is in control of what is transpiring at all times. Shalom is intended to be a sense of total harmony and calmness, in spite of dire circumstances. It is a condition that is impossible to understand apart from the inspiration of trust in Him. Shalom is intended to not just be an absence of war or conflict among people, but a condition of complete balance and tranquility between God, man, and nature.

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul was at a loss for words on how to describe the peace of God:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 4:4-7).

This peace of God is exactly what the Aaronic Benediction declares upon Ancient Israel in our Torah portion. This is a knowing that God is in charge, despite our human inabilities to understand what He is necessarily doing in the circumstances of life. Paul reminded his Philippian friends of how Messiah followers are to be anxious for nothing, but rather plead with the Lord through their prayers and supplication.

Acquiring the Peace of the Lord

For those of you who are in need of a good model for prayer, perhaps memorizing the Aaronic Benediction for times of need might be a good beginning. Don’t leave the Aaronic Benediction to the close of your Shabbat service on Saturday morning! Claim what the Aaronic Benediction of Numbers 6:22-27 declares forth for yourself. Take great comfort and encouragement from realizing how the Holy Spirit is to fill us up and empower us, interceding for us before the Throne of God:

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

This week, as we consider the Aaronic Benediction, we can first be thankful that we have this wonderful prayer to contemplate and recite—as we cry out to the Lord for His blessings. Additionally, as Believers in the redeeming work of the Messiah Yeshua, we should be able to invoke this meaningful prayer for ourselves, as well as others, as we serve the Lord. Above all, we should always remember that more is to come as we await the return of the Messiah to Planet Earth, and the eventual establishment of His reign of total peace and shalom. What kind of service of worship must we offer to Him in the meantime (cf. Romans 12:1), to hasten the Lord’s coming?

NOTES

[1] Numbers 4:1-3, 34-49.

[2] Numbers 4:1-49; Kohathites: 4:2-20; Gershonites: 4:21-28; Merarites: 4:29-33.

[3] CHALOT, 302.

[4] Jacob Milgrom, “Numbers,” in Etz Hayim, 783.

[5] HALOT, 2:1582-1583.

[6] This figure was determined using a root search of the Hebrew Tanakh (WTT) in BibleWorks 7.0.

[7] Cf. Edwin Yamauchi, “chanan,” in TWOT, 1:302-303.

(Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – Bamidbar “In the Wilderness” – From Trials to Trails – SCRIPTURES FOR May 27, 2017

Torah Commentary
Bamidbar “In the Wilderness”
Numbers 1:1-4:20
Hosea 2:1-22
Luke 2:1-7; 1Cor 12:12-31
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From Trials to Trails
There is an interesting word to be found as we begin the Book of Numbers. It is translated “take a census.” The word in Hebrew is “Nasa.” The word has been used in Scripture almost 100 times in the first three books of Torah and will also be the title of our next Torah portion. One of the meanings of this word is “to look up,” or “raise up your head.” The secondary meaning is an interesting tie-in as it means to “bear up” or “support.” A search on this word is fascinating. Cain used it when saying his punishment was too much for him to bear (nasa). It is used to describe how the waters of the flood would bare up (nasa), the Ark. Abram would lift up (nasa), his eyes to look upon The Land.
How are the two definitions of this words tied together? The answer is found in Psalm 121: “If I raise my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?  My help comes from ADONAI, the maker of heaven and earth.” The verse ties the two definitions together and tells us that if we will lift up (nasa) our eyes, we will find the One who can bear our burdens, lift us up above trouble, and help in time of need.
At this point in the journey of the Hebrews, they have been through quite a few trials. Plagues came upon the land they once called home. A sea stood before them as an angry and motivated army pursued them. Physical, and perhaps even spiritual in a way, thirst and hunger drove them to faithlessness including a Golden Calf most would desire to forget. Each place life would bring them to was designed by Yah to have them look up to their Creator, their Deliverer, the One who desired to carry them as on eagles wings to their destiny. This could not be accomplished by looking down at circumstances.
Looking up was not a position the Hebrews were accustomed to. They had been slaves in Egypt for many years. If you put a person into slavery, you will notice over time that their very posture will change. As a people, slaves will no longer look to the horizon, but rather to the ground. It is not lack of possessions which makes a person a slave, but a lack of hope of a good future. Before the Hebrews could go on in their journey, they had to start looking up.
This is a concept also being taught in Luke 21. After a discourse of what the Day of Yah will be, the writer does not tell us to dissect every disaster and news article which comes out, but rather to Nasa, for our redemption is getting closer.
Somewhere between the Hebrews in the wilderness being told to nasa and the end of this age, (beginning of real life) is where you and I live on a daily basis. As I talk with and interact with people today, I find we all have something in common: trials! From changes in relationships to health and financial issues to whatever you want to fill in the blank with, life is full of “Stuff” for most everyone I know. What is the purpose of it all? It’s very simple, really. To get us looking up toward Him. (Click to Article)

 

Torah Commentary – B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai – The Heart of the Matter – SCRIPTURES FOR May 20, 2017

Torah Commentary
B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai
Leviticus 25:1-26:2; 26:3-27:34
Jeremiah 32:6-27; 16:19-17:14
2Corinthians 7-13
 The Heart of the Matter
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For our culture, many of the instructions of Leviticus seem quite foreign to us. There is even a debate whether most of these Scriptures pertain only to the time when we have entered the Land. “Buying and selling of crops, allowing the land to rest on the seventh year and redeeming our poor relative from slavery”, you have to admit, are not things most of us spend our waking thoughts pondering today. When it comes to food storage many people consider storing food for the winter. Wrap your head around storing supplies for three years to take your family through the Jubilee. Due to the difference in culture, we can get lost in the relevance of these verses for our day and read through them way to fast. A quick glance may cause us to miss the heart of the Scriptures.
Torah is about relationship with HaShem, family and the people we are called to interact with on a daily basis. The mysteries and wonders of Torah are awesome, but if we miss the theme of relationship, we miss the heart of the matter. Torah is teaching us through practical day-to-day life instructions how to love our Creator and how to treat one another. This principle is brought out again in Leviticus 25:14-17. Here Scripture speaks of selling property to a neighbor while considering the amount of how many years remaining until the Jubilee and the return of said property.  On the surface we do not see the point of the instruction, because in our society when we sell an item to someone, we do not expect him or her to bring it back in seven years. All transactions are typically final.  What can we learn in this instruction? The heart of the instruction is in verse 17, which tells us not to take advantage of one another in our transactions.
Let us put some flesh on this principal. Back in the days when I sold real estate, I did not like to sell property to or for friends. Sadly, more often than not, it turned out to be a disaster. I found that no matter how hard I tried, the “friend” was much harder to work with than a stranger off the street. They usually wanted special favors and in the end could not believe why I did not turn my entire commission over to them and call the transaction a favor based on friendship. This was an example of taking advantage of a friendship, which is what Leviticus warns us against. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – Emor (Speak) – “Small Matters” – Day 15, Month 2, 5777; 11 May 2017

Torah Commentary
Emor (Speak)
Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Ezekiel 44:15-31
Matthew 5:38-42
Galatians 3:26-29

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“Small Matters”
The Book of Leviticus is devoted to the subject of what is clean and what is not clean. Simply put, we should desire to live our lives pursuing that which Yah calls clean and stay away from what He calls unclean. In doing so, it is not only so we can live a life of blessing and closeness to Him, but so we may also show forth His holy character to others.
In this Torah portion His name, YH VH, is used 81 times. We see a summary of instructions for His Feasts. We also find something I want to draw attention to. The word profane is used 12 times. We find Webster’s dictionary defines the word profane as “irreverence for that which is sacred.” Strong’s Concordance has many definitions, one of which is to “make common.” These definitions supply descriptions that may differ from what we would normally consider profane to mean.
Consider it this way. For most of us, trees in our living rooms and decorated eggs hidden in the yard are practices that have become distant memories. We would look back to those practices and call them unclean. Now we have the blessing of celebrating Feasts that have been called clean by our King. However, is it possible to observe the Feasts clearly taught in Scripture and make them unclean? Go back to the definition of Webster, “irreverence for that which is sacred.” His Feasts are sacred, if we do not reverence them in Light of Him, we can make them unclean in His sight. Read Amos 5:21“”I hate, I utterly loathe your festivals; I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies.” The people were “doing” the Feasts, but in such a way that Yah not only said He hated them, but He no longer called them His.
How do we keep from making the same mistakes of our ancestors? Take a moment to reflect on your last Shabbat, Passover, Unleavened Bread, New Moon, the current counting of the Omer. Without looking at a sheet of paper or a calendar, what day is it on the counting? What was the Torah portion for last Shabbat? Do you recall its overall theme? Did you even bother to read it? Are you napping through Leviticus? Can you tell what phase the moon is in right now?
Do I need to go on? Consider your answers to the above questions. Answer truthfully. In the eyes of Yah, was your last Shabbat clean or unclean? Was your celebration of the last New Moon more “common” than sacred? How many days of counting the Omer have you missed?
In Luke 16 we read about faithfulness. Verse 10 says, “Someone who is trustworthy in a small matter is also trustworthy in large ones, and someone who is dishonest in a small matter is also dishonest in large ones. ” How are we doing in the “small matters” like counting the Omer? Is our reverence or lack of reverence in what many would call a small matter affecting the weightier matters? I can only answer for myself on this one. Today we are in the middle of the Counting of the Omer. Though we do not have a place in Jerusalem to take an offering to and perform our daily counting, Scripture still tells us to count. How we do so may be as simple as acknowledging a number or adding Scripture readings and prayer. Question is, “How important is the counting to us?” Is it something we are looking forward to every day or do we let a few days go by and realize we have forgotten? Are we allowing the counting to become common? (Click to Article)

 

Torah Commentary – Acharei Mot(After the Death), K’doshim(Holy Ones) – Searching For Life – Day 8, Month 2, 5777; 4 May 2017

Torah Commentary
Acharei Mot(After the Death), K’doshim(Holy Ones)
Leviticus 16:1-18:30; 19:1-20:27
Ezekiel 22:1-19
Romans 3:19-28; 9:30-10:13
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
2 Corinthians 2:1-11
Galatians 3:10-14
Hebrews 7:23-10:25
The_Ten_Commandments2
Searching For Life
Life is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it as,”The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.” According to this definition life is just going through motions which will allow someone to know if we are an animal, plant or just a rock. Simply put, if it moves, grows and reproduces, it has life, if not, it’s a rock. Another definition for life is, “The period between the birth and death of a living thing.”
As I consider these definitions in light of the words in Leviticus 18:5, which explains we will have life through obedience to Torah, the dictionary definitions appear to pale in comparison of how I feel our Creator desires us to have life. If we throw into the mix the words of Yeshua in John 10:10, “I have come that you may have life, life in its fullest measure,” the definitions really lose value.
What is the difference between the book definitions of life and what most of us desire as the Scriptural definition of life? I believe it comes down to one word, purpose. Consider the word purpose for a moment. Is it possible for us to have life, but never find purpose? We all know the answer is a resounding “yes”!
When we reflect on an example of life without purpose our minds may envision a homeless person on a street corner. He or she wakes up in the morning the same as the rest of us, breathes the same amount of air as we do and in truth goes through many of the same motions to sustain a level of life. Is simply sustaining life all that our Creator intended? Obviously, not! Would you say, when compared to the homeless person on the street corner, we have achieved the Scriptural definition of life in its fullest measure by reading the Torah each week, eating clean and observing the Feasts? I’m not sure I would.
Ask an honest question of yourself. Do you feel you are walking in the Scriptural definition of life? Now I am going to go where only the truly insane go. Comparing your life of Torah today with your life in a church in the past, do you feel you have more life now or just more knowledge? I wish I could get a show of hands here.
If my conversations with people through the years are any indication to the answer of the above question I would say most of us feel we have more knowledge than life. If you are the exception, please do not become offended. Maybe you have found the keys to abundant life and should be the one writing instead of me. For all the rest, please read on.
Leviticus 18 promises we will have life through observing His laws and rulings. Yeshua says we will have abundant life through Him. Is the key to life in joining these two verses together? If so, is there a verse which combines their meaning? Look at Psalm 40:7, “In the scroll of the book it is written about Me.” This verse is our key to the equation. It is all about Him. (Click to Article)

Looking Back To Look Forward – Torah Commentary – Pesach “Passover” – Day 17, Month 1, 5777; 13 April 2017

Torah Commentary
Pesach “Passover”
Exodus 33:12 – 34:26
Numbers 28:16-31
Ezekiel 36:37 – 37:14
John 17-21

yeshuatheMessiah

Looking Back To Look Forward
 
Another Passover is behind us and is now a memory. Our observances may have been practiced in different style and manner. My prayer is our hearts were as one, focused on Messiah. It is quite obvious by the fact that I was able to share this commentary and you are reading it, that when you opened the door, during your seder, there was not a man with a long gray beard beckoning you to follow him into the Wilderness of the Peoples this year! We begin another Biblical year. May our hearts be completely prepared to embark on this New Year set on Messiah. Let us look back for a moment just to make sure we are ready!
We will reflect on the first week of our ancestor’s journey out of Egypt. Daily life activities had totally changed. Slaves were now free men and women pulling wagons overflowing with Egyptian luxuries. Possessions of gold, silver, expensive clothing and everything their hearts ever desired. They no longer had to punch a time clock in Egypt or be responsible to the taskmasters. Israel was free! What a dramatic change. They saw a sea split before them and crossed its bed, not through muddy sludge, but on dry ground. Not to mention the miracles of bread from the sky and trials of bitter waters. Much took place that first week. What lay before Israel? They did not know, nor would they have been able to comprehend it if told. Change and a new way of life had begun! 
 
Fast forward many centuries to a group of men from differing walks, all called by one Man to follow Him. Every day of their lives with Him was a new adventure as they saw water turned to wine, dead people raised, blind men see and amidst the miracles, listened to profound teaching like nothing taught by any other prophet or teacher. These men were riding on top of the world with dreams of a coming Kingdom and a close relationship with the One who would rule over it. Then there was that infamous night. One would betray Him, one man would deny Him while many scattered. Only one would be found standing close. All would watch their dreams die before them. Their next days would be filled with questions of pondering how they had been tricked and deceived. This One appeared to be genuine. Then the news, His tomb was found empty. Could it be? Now, almost a week after Passover, there they were, sitting on the shore of the Galilee eating fish with the resurrected Messiah! (Click to Article)
 

Torah Commentary – Tzav (Give an Order) – Nothing Held Back – April 7, 2017

Torah Commentary
Tzav (Give an Order)
Leviticus 6:1-8:36
Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23
Mark 12:28-34
Romans 12:1-2
1Corinthians 10:14-23
easter-friday-lamb
Nothing Held Back
 
This week we look at the offerings in more detail. Each one has specific meaning and differs in some nature. They all have one thing in common; they are to be an act of worship unto the Holy One. A fact which has been misunderstood, is there is not an offering for intentional sin listed here. I thought intentional sin is what got us here in the first place, so why no sacrifice listed?
 
To understand this principle we must understand what Leviticus is and what it isn’t. Leviticus is not a book given to redeem, but rather instructions on how a redeemed people are to worship the One who had redeemed them. We will come back to that statement in a moment. 
 
“Where then,” we ask, “is the offering for intentional sin”? Let us travel back to Egypt and the Passover sacrifice. A lamb was brought into the house on the tenth of the first month and slaughtered the evening of the fourteenth. This was the sacrifice pointing to intentional sin! What sin had the Hebrews in Egypt committed? First we must reflect on why the Hebrews are in slavery and bondage to begin with. After so many years in a foreign land living among an idol worshiping nation, you might consider it had some effect on the belief system of the Hebrew people. Could the sin Israel committed have something to do with forgetting who they were and the calling they had been given? Let me explain.
 
Where was the first intentional sin committed? In the Garden of Eden, correct? After Adam and Eve’s devastating decision, Elohim slaughtered an animal and made coverings for them. Please consider that offering as a shadow of the offering of Messiah. The understood purpose of this offering was passed down generation to generation. Abraham had been taught of this offering, which is wrapped up in the account of taking Isaac to the mountain. Isaac then passed this offering to his son Jacob who passed it to his twelve sons. Each of these people would come to “Faith in Elohim” based upon faith in a sacrifice for intentional sin. This faith would then lead them to a life of offerings of worship unto Yah. I will share more on this in a moment.
 
What is the intentional sin of the Hebrews in Egypt which caused them to be in slavery? They had forgotten they were a people called to accept and proclaim the way of redemption prophesied in the garden. Many of them took on the pagan ways of the people group around them and were assimilated. To make these statements personal for me and you, when you or I forget who we are in Him and take on the pagan ways of this world, we are destined to travel down the briar filled path toward slavery and bondage. (Click to Article)