Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, December 31, 2021 

(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Trail:  I’m writing this on Thursday, to be published Thursday night for Friday.  Got it?  Get it!  Good!  That means that this is my New Year’s Eve edition of the RR.  So, Happy New Year everyone.  Oh, and Shabbat Shalom too.  In Israel, New Year’s Eve is not called “New Year’s Eve.”  They use the European name for the 31st of December, and call it “Sylvester.”  

Saint Sylvester was buried December 31, 335.  About 1,200 years later, when the Gregorian calendar was organized in 1582, they picked December 31st (exactly 7 days after Christmas) to end the year to honor Saint Sylvester (Pope Sylvester I), who was believed to be responsible for the conversion of Constantine when he prayed that Constantine would be healed of leprosy.  That notwithstanding, Eastern Orthodox (not Jewish Orthodox) churches celebrate Sylvester’s feast a few days later into January.  

The rabbis in Israel reject any taste of both Christianity and secularism, so Sylvester loses on both counts.  The rabbis prefer Biblical and Jewish holidays.  I understand that in Austria (Europe) people have a strange custom.  They walk pigs on leashes to celebrate Saint Sylvester Day, as a superstition of having good fortune for the coming year.  I wonder how Miss Piggy feels about that.  Probably better than she feels about bacon and ham.

Oh well, Happy New Year everyone.  End RT.

For the last few days, the elders of Shomair Yisrael have been praying over the Congregational Declaration for 2022.  This will be our 3rd annual such Declaration.  Each year, (for the last 3 years) our larger group of ministry leaders has gathered in November or December for listening prayer.  We specifically inquire of the Lord for His direction concerning the coming year.  

We wait on the Lord and ask each leader what he/she has heard.  What has developed in each of the last 2 years is a remarkably coherent directional statement from the Lord, and this year is no exception.  We will “reveal” the 2022 statement at the start of our service on Saturday, January 1st.  For those of you who cannot attend in person, the live broadcast will be on YouTube.  Just search for Shomair Yisrael Messianic Synagogue Knoxville, TN.  I’m sure we’ll pop up.

As it is now (not its final form), the last sentence of the first paragraph reads, “We recognize that we have been planted by Him to stand as mighty oaks of righteousness.”  Several of our leaders had words or visions of oak trees this year.  What does it mean to “stand as a mighty oak of righteousness?”

This term appears in the Bible in the section of Isaiah 61 where Yeshua opened the scroll and read in the synagogue in His hometown of Natzeret.  (Although Luke 4 doesn’t quite quote the entire section.). Isaiah 61:3 to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of Adonai, that He may be glorified.  

Three exchanges happen here,… the people are consoled (brought out of mourning), the people are given beauty (to replace ashes), and the people are given the oil of joy (in place of the spirit of heaviness).  Now I ask you, is there anyone who wants to vote against that?  We gladly exchange mourning, ashes, and the spirit of heaviness.

But wait, that’s not all!  It is so that the people will be called “oaks of righteousness.”  The Hebrew word translated as “oaks” is “Aylay,” which is plural for Ayil.  But Ayil doesn’t mean “oak.”   An “Ayil” is a “ram.”  How is an oak like a ram?  Rams butt heads.  They are immovable.  So is an oak tree.  

The purpose is to be “the planting of Adonai” for HIs glory.  We don’t butt heads with each other.  We are not immoveable because of our own intransigence.  We are steadfast in our faith in Who He is and in His ability to accomplish all of His promises.  In that way, we cannot be moved.   

Yeshua is the Lamb of God.  In that sense, the shofar represents His voice.  The shofar sounds a warning to the hearer.  It tells us to wake up, to be alert and to rally to His banner.  Let’s hear the call of God in 2022 and make this a year of increase for the kingdom of God.  We are oaks of righteousness for His glory.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Fri 31-Dec-2021 27th of Tevet, 5782

Ex 8:19-9:16 2 Sa 15 Ps 82 Lk 9:27-62 (Eph 4)

Week 1
Memory Verse:  Genesis 1:27 God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.

1   12/27      Monday:        Genesis 1-2 

  12/28      Tuesday:       Genesis 3-4

3   12/29      Wednesday:  Genesis 6-7

4   12/30      Thursday:      Genesis 8-9

5   12/31      Friday:           Job 1-2