Rabbi’s Reflections – Tuesday, March 2, 2021


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

Tue 2 March-2021 18th of Adar, 5781

Ex 33:12-16 Isa 8 Pr 6 Ac 6 (Heb 12)

Yesterday’s long Torah reading is followed by today’s short one.  Only 5 verses.  Ahhh, tradition.  The second part of the last verse is a question God answers in the reading tomorrow.  But I want to answer it today.  Moses asks God, “Exodus 33:16b Isn’t it because You go with us, that distinguishes us from all the people on the face of the earth?”  

The answer is in the question.  This is proven in that (when we read on) God never directly answers the question.  Tomorrow we will see (because the next verse is the beginning of the reading for tomorrow) that God pretty much changes the subject.  This leaves us with the understanding that Moses question isn’t as much a question as it is a declaration in the form of a question.  

There are two key words that inform our understanding of the issue Moses is raising.  First, the word for “go.”  It is “Lech” which is the same word God spoke to Abraham at the beginning of Genesis 12 when Abraham was told to get up and go.  The second word is the word translated as “distinguishes” by the TLV.  In Hebrew it is “Peleh” (Peh-Lamed-Hey).  It is used throughout Exodus as God makes a distinction between Goshen and the rest of Egypt.  

Rabbi Trail:  There is another word that sounds the same (or similar) but is spelled differently (Peh-Lamed-Aleph).  This other word “Peleh” is found in Isaiah 9:5(6)b  His Name will be called Wonderful….  “Wonderful” is “Peleh” but spelled with an aleph.  Our word is “Peleh” spelled with a hay. End RT.

In Hebrew, we say “Emanuel.”  This word has three parts that form its meaning.  “Em” (a better transliteration would be “Im”) means “with” in Hebrew. “Anu” is how we identify ourselves (us).  And lastly, “El” is God’s name.  We put them together to form our understanding of “Emanuel,” “God with us.” 

What makes us a special people is that God is with us.  

Rabbi Trail:  Two days ago I heard a quote from an (here anonymous) congressperson from an (here anonymous) undisclosed political party say, “What any religious tradition describes as God’s will, is of no concern to this Congress.”  Want to hear it for yourself?  Here is a 92 second clip.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKJTWuViqog  The “fireworks” happen in the last 6 seconds, but I urge you to listen to all 92 seconds.  Then say a prayer for our country and its leaders. End RT.

David understood that there is more than just having God with us.  There is hearing his voice and having Him hear ours.  There is God hearing us and us hearing God.  And note this… biblical “hearing” is responding to what is heard.  We want God to respond to us and we need to respond to God.  David says, if this is not happening, then we are just like every other heathen.  Psalm 34:1 Of David. To You, Adonai, I call— my Rock, do not be deaf to me. If You were silent to me, I would become like those going down to the Pit.

The only way we can be “the people of God” is if this hearing (taking heed) is happening in us and among us on a regular basis.  1 Peter 2:10 Once you were “not a people,” but now you are “God’s people.”  Now act like it.

Week 10

Memory Verse: Deuteronomy 31:7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong! Be courageous! For you are to go with this people into the land Adonai has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you are to enable them to inherit it. 8 Adonai—He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be discouraged.”

46   3/01    Monday:        Leviticus 23

* 47 3/02    Tuesday:       Leviticus 26

48   3/03    Wednesday:  Numbers 11-12

49   3/04    Thursday:      Numbers 13-14

50   3/05    Friday:           Numbers 16-17

Question of the day:  Hey Rabbi, will you please tell us the story of Leviticus 26?

Answer:  When you say “please,” how can I refuse?  The first 13 verses contain all the promised blessings of obeying God.  God promises abundance to the people who will live according to His righteous standards.  

What follows in verse 14 is a key word, “but.”  Leviticus 26:14a “But if you will not listen to Me… 16a then I will do the following.”  Beginning here in verse 16 there are 24 verses of curses.  God promises destruction and more (yes there is more) as payment for unfaithfulness, saying in Leviticus 26:34b Then the land will rest and enjoy its Shabbatot. 

This takes us down to verse 40 where there is another “but.”  Leviticus 26:40a “But if they confess their iniquity…42a then I will remember My covenant.”  The rest of the chapter is essential and every antisemite should read it carefully.  God is not done with Jewish people.  Leviticus 26:44b I will not reject them, nor will I hate them into utter destruction, and break My covenant with them, for I am Adonai their God.

God promises a future for Israel.  There is a righteous remnant back in the land today and God is faithful to his word.  The End.