Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, November 25, 2023
Shabbat Shalom,

Before we get to David Harwood’s submission for today, I want to invite you to join me at the Knoxville City Council Meeting next Tuesday.  The meeting begins at 6PM (come early).  I have not yet heard if I will be invited to speak against the resolution.  For those who have asked how you can help, here is the original email sent out by Bryan Goldberg, President of the Knoxville Jewish Alliance.

Dear Community Members,

I am deeply saddened to share a resolution being brought in front of City Council this upcoming Tuesday, November 28. I believe this resolution is a result of the public commentary from the City Council meeting on November 14. I am attaching a link for those who wish to see the tone and tenor of those comments. It is important for the Council members to hear from our community on this issue.

Most importantly, Knoxville City Government should not wade into geopolitical issues. This resolution is an attempt to do just that.

By bringing this resolution, the only result is to create division and animosity between two distinct communities within our great city. I urge those who feel compelled to stand up in opposition to this resolution to:

Attend the City Council Meeting on November 28 at 6:00PM

Reach out to any and all city Council Members and urge them not to support Resolution L

Call Will Johnson, City Recorder, at 865-215-2075 or email wjohnson@knoxvilletn.gov urge them to request to speak publicly against Resolution L at the November 28th meeting

Lastly, I call upon our community to act with respect and compassion both in your public comments and actions during the upcoming meeting. We should strive to represent the Jewish community in the best possible light in the face of what will be hurtful and potentially hateful speech against Israel and the Jewish people.

Bryan Goldberg
KJA President

Link to the resolution: https://files.constantcontact.com/5880663e001/6f9f162d-855a-427a-91bb-ed10d7753b06.pdf?rdr=true

Link to the presentation of the resolution to the city council on October 14th: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzQqhSPnHTk&t=15154s

Link to contact information for the city council: https://www.knoxvilletn.gov/government/city_council/city_council_members


Giving Thanks
by David Harwood

Give thanks for everything.


Here’s the verse:

always giving thanks for everything to God the Father, in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. (Ephesians 5:20) 

What a command.

I would have no problem doing this if I believed that God caused everything that ever happened, is happening, and will happen.

But I don’t.

I would have no problem doing this if I believed that giving God credit for everything that has ever happened, is happening, and will happen, is something He would approve.

But I don’t.

I would have no problem doing this if I believed this would not misrepresent God

But I do.

And remember, this commanded gratitude is to be offered through the mediation of the Messiah through whom Father has determined to reveal His will. The will of God was, is, and shall be manifest in Yeshua. Anything that reveals Yeshua’s activity and nature is something for which I will be grateful (because I trust Him).

IF I should be mistaken and find out that God micro-managed the genocides of the 20th century, all plagues, pain, alienation, hatred, frustration, griefs, and the distortion of that which He called good – let me tell you a secret: I would bow. But… I don’t believe that is the biblical mandate.

So then, what about Ephesians 5:20? Am I an emotionally driven rebel?

always giving thanks for everything (Ephesians 5:20a) 

It seems like Paul instructed the Ephesians to give thanks for everything. For decades I did. Then this discipline was angrily challenged by a volatile person. I thought that before advising them to repent and obey the Scripture (i.e. give thanks for every rotten thing that had happened to them), that I would study the verse.

I was surprised by what I found.

for everything is purported to translate huper panton (ὑπὲρ πάντων). This direction is placed within the context of Paul’s instructions about the activity of the believing community. Here’s the relational context:

be filled with the Ruach, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord— always giving thanks for everything [huper panton] to God the Father, in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Also submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Messiah—(Ephesians 5:18b–21) 

Huper panton is used six other times in the New Covenant Scriptures. Look at them.

One died for all… He died for all (2 Corinthians 5:14–15) 

always praying … for all of you, (Philippians 1:4) 

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you (Philippians 1:7) 

I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all people— (1 Timothy 2:1) 

who gave Himself as a ransom for all — (1 Timothy 2:6) 

Note, each reference references people. Therefore, I prefer the New English Translation’s rendering of Ephesians 5:20a.

always giving thanks to God the Father for each other … (Ephesians 5:20a NET) 

A popular devotional paraphrase puts it like this:

Always give thanks to Father God for every person He brings into your life. (Ephesians 5:20a The Passion Translation)

In the middle of this grievous time of crisis our calendar hasn’t stopped. This weekend follows our national holiday dedicated to gratitude to our Creator. Let’s remember God’s goodness and put Paul’s example into practice. He wrote:

I never stop giving thanks for you…  (Ephesians 1:16a)

Be grateful for one another.


Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 25-Nov-2023 12th of Kislev, 5784 Parashat Vayetzei
Ge 31:43-32:2[3] Hos 12:13-14:10 Joh 1:43-51