Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, April 16, 2021

(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

This Shabbat is Lily Slingluff’s Bat Mitzvah.  A Bat Mitzvah (meaning daughter of the commandment) is a time when a young woman stands before the open Torah and blesses the Word of God.  She is declaring her faithful allegiance to God and His principles.  

The Torah is an object that has spiritual significance.  Any time we deal with objects, there is a tendency to form a religious spirit.  A religious spirit is a substitute for a greater spiritual reality.  And the only greater spiritual reality is God, Himself.  Genesis 1:1a “In the beginning, God…”

Even though God wrote down His principles in the Torah and revealed in detail what He meant through the prophets and writings in the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures, we were unable to attain unto it.  

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time came, God sent out His Son, born of a woman and born under law— 5 to free those under law, so we might receive adoption as sons. 6 Now because you are sons, God sent the Ruach of His Son into our hearts, who cries out, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a son—and if a son, also an heir through God.

Although “sons” are mentioned exclusively in the verses quoted above, whenever we have a mixed group of male and female, Scripture uses male pronouns, so the term “sons” is inclusive of daughters also.  

John 14:8 Philip said to Him, “Master, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (dayenu) 9 Yeshua said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you haven’t come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  So, Lily will be declaring her allegiance to the visible manifestation of God the Father, Who is the Son. Colossians 1:15a He is the image of the invisible God.

Lily’s Bat Mitzvah Shabbat is a challenging one.  It is a double portion, Tazria-Metzora.  Tazria deals with the uncleanness of a woman after childbirth (Zarah is to plant seed) and (as if that isn’t enough), Metzora is lepers (tza’arat is leprosy).  Lily has developed an inspired message to all of us around how the Bible deals with leprosy.  I hope you all will be sure to attend either online through our YouTube channel or in person.

Day 13 of counting the Omer

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר

Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav, Vitzivanu Al Sefirat Ha-Omer.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his commandments and commanded us about the counting of the Omer.  Today is one week and six days of the counting of the omer.

Good thing we don’t have triskaidekaphobia (yes, I checked the spelling).  Today is day 13 of counting our blessings through the counting of he Omer (measure of barley offering).  This seems like a good time to offer a brief review.  We are counting our blessings by appreciating the attributes of God.  His attributes are described throughout the Bible, but most succinctly in these verses.

Exodus 34:6 Then Adonai passed before him, and proclaimed, “Adonai, Adonai, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, 7 showing mercy to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means leaving the guilty unpunished, but bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

Moses didn’t get this revelation until after the sin of the golden calf at which time he broke all 10 Commandments (the Tablets) at once.  Only then did God show him His loving nature, a nature (characteristics) of both grace and truth.  Grace to 1,000 generations, but not leaving the guilty unpunished.  

Exodus 34:8 Then Moses quickly bowed his head down to the earth and worshipped.  And so should we.  We have received grace (undeserved favor) from the Most High God.  

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us. 9 How much more then, having now been set right by His blood, shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him. 10 For if, while we were yet enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.

The only question then is what will be our adequate response.  Actually, every response seems inadequate.  All we can do is love Him and love each other.  Give Him your heart, and the rest of you will follow.  

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

Fri 16 Apr-2021 4th of Iyar, 5781

Le 14:33-15:15 Isa 54 Job 11 (Mt 12: 22-50) 2 Pet 3

You may notice how I’ve avoided commenting on the Torah portion this week.  These verses of Leviticus are hard for me.  All the details surrounding uncleanness are challenging.  So let’s move on to this from Isaiah 54.

Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, barren one, who has not given birth. burst into singing and shout, you who have not travailed. For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married one,” says Adonai.

Following Isaiah 53, Isaiah 54 is the promise of a celebration.  Isaiah 53 is the chapter prophesying over the travail of the suffering servant (the first coming of Messiah Yeshua).  Isaiah 53:3a  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  God then prophesies in Isaiah 54 that He, Himself, is going to bear children, through faith in the suffering servant.  

Ephesians 2:12 At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  That is a pretty good description of “the barren one.”  Ephesians 2:13 But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.  This is a pretty good description of being born from above, born again.  

These verses of Ephesians 2 are actually a retelling of what came earlier in the chapter.  Ephesians 2:4 But God was rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us. 5 Even when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive together with Messiah. (By grace you have been saved!)

We sing because we are born again, born from above.  We have new life worthy of celebration.  How dare we act like we have nothing to celebrate.  Hear the words of Yeshua… Luke 10:20b “Rejoice that your names have been written in the heavens.”

Week 16

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 4:17a But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be proclaimed in full measure,…

76   4/12    Monday:         1 Samuel 17-18

77   4/13    Tuesday:        1 Samuel 19-20

78   4/14    Wednesday:   1 Samuel 21-22

79   4/15    Thursday:       Psalm 22; 1 Samuel 24-25:1

* 80 4/16    Friday:            1 Samuel 28; 31

Question of the day:  Who is the witch at Endor?

Answer:  Curious minds want to know.  God is silent through the prophets (1 Samuel 28), and without missing a beat, Saul seeks out a witch, who became disturbed when she realized that she had raised up the spirit of Samuel.  Samuel asks Saul, “Why have you disturbed me (from the grave)?”

And Saul answers him, “I need direction from God, but God won’t answer me.”

To which Samuel responds, “If God won’t answer you, how can I do better?”  

Samuel than says to Saul exactly what he told him many years earlier.  1 Samuel 28:17b Adonai has torn the kingship out of your hand and has given it to another fellow, to David. 

The tension between Saul and David is an image of the tension in each of us.  Saul is the image of self-will, while David is the image of compliance to God.  Ultimately, David becomes the image of repentance.  It is repentance that God wants to bring forth in each of us.  

1 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some consider slowness. Rather, He is being patient toward you—not wanting anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

Who is the witch at Endor?  Ignore that question.  The real question is, Who is Yeshua of Nazareth?  That’s what’s important.