Rabbi’s Reflections – Tuesday, April 27, 2021


Counting the Omer – Day 24

Here is the proper blessing to be said each day.  This is how Jewish people fulfill the command to count.

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 counting the counting of the Omer.  Today is three weeks and three days of the counting of the Omer.

We are all one of two sons (children).  Luke 15:11 Then Yeshua said, “A certain man had two sons.  A parable is a story that illustrates a greater reality.  Yeshua spoke that parable known as the parable of the prodigal son.  Wait a minute… if the man had 2 sons, why couldn’t the parable be named after the other son?  You know, the one who stayed faithful?  Perhaps it should be called “the parable of the self-righteous son” or “the parable of the son with the religious spirit?”  

The point here (not to be missed) is that both sons required the father’s forgiveness.  Most will focus and even identify with the prodigal son (who leaves, squanders, then returns).  But the other son also deserves our attention.  

Luke 15:28 “But the older son was angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came outside and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look, so many years I’ve slaved away for you—not once did I ignore your order. Yet you’ve never given me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.

The older son was indignant, self-righteous, full of a “religious spirit.”  He was all about doing right, but his attitude of grace and forgiveness was missing.  

Luke 15:30 But when this son of yours came—the one who has squandered your wealth with prostitutes—for him you killed the fattened calf!”

Proverbs 15:1a A gentle answer turns away wrath.  So the father answers his older son… Luke 15:31 “Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that is mine is yours. 32 But it was right to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead but has come back to life! He was lost, but is found.’”

We have all received the grace of God, (some because we strayed seriously, and some because we did not stray so much [but who’s doing the measuring?].  However; all of us must show grace one to another.  Just remember this (and this is very deep, and I’m not going to do it justice here), you can’t “out grace” God.  We must forgive bad behavior, but we must not ignore bad behavior.  Successful disciples always maintain an attitude of receiving correction.  And successful disciplers (those who disciple others) are able to deliver correction with affirmation (without condemnation).  This is the reality of “speaking the truth in love.”

We continue to thank God for His abundant grace.

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

Tue27 Apr 202115th of Iyar, 5781

Le 22:17-33 Isa 66 Job 20 (Mt 20) Ro 1

The reading of the Aliyah today reminds me of a personal story I feel compelled to share with you.  Let me set the stage.  I’m 13 or 14 years old.  I’m sitting near the front of the synagogue next to my friend on a Friday night.  It’s in the middle of the worship service.  My parents are sitting near the back (in their self-assigned seats).  My dad has settled into his seat in such a way that he could easily drift off to sleep.  The rabbi quotes the last verses of today’s Aliyah as part of the liturgy (these same words appear elsewhere in the Torah)…

Leviticus 22:32b I am Adonai who makes you holy, 33 who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. I am Adonai.”

How could I let that go?  Even though I had heard the rabbi quote that same verse hundreds of times, I poke my friend in his ribs with my elbow, lean over and say in his ear, “Funny, he doesn’t look like God.”  My friend laughs and the rabbi stops the service.  Horrors!  He makes me (the instigator) stand up and move a few rows away from everybody, so I’m sitting by myself.  

This disturbs my dad, who saw to it, after we got home, that I would remember that night to this day.  Let’s just call it a severe disciplinary action.  Looking back, I would have to thank my dad for seeing to it that I was taught reverence.  Now I am the rabbi, but I still like to make jokes in synagogue.  I like to take God seriously, but not myself.  

The real take-away from today’s Aliyah is that when we offer an offering to the Lord it should be from the best and finest.  The real “first fruit” given to Him.    

Week 18

Memory Verse: Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought You —let me not stray from Your mitzvot. 11 I have treasured Your word in my heart, so I might not sin against You.

86   4/26    Monday:         Psalm 51

* 87 4/27    Tuesday:        2 Samuel 24; Psalm 24

88   4/28    Wednesday:   Psalm 1, 19

89   4/29    Thursday:       Psalm 119:1-48

90   4/30    Friday:            Psalm 119:49-128

Question of the day:  What is special about Psalm 24?

Answer:  The rabbis have assigned Psalm 24 special significance in the High Holiday liturgy.  The Psalm begins with words that seem to make it special.  Psalm 24:3 Who may go up on the mountain of Adonai? `Who may stand in His holy place? 4 One with clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully.

The Psalm builds to this (which is then repeated)…

Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors: that the King of glory may come in. 8 “Who is this King of glory?” Adonai strong and mighty, Adonai mighty in battle!

“Standing in His holy place” was only done by one man (the High Priest) in one place (the Holy of Holies in the Temple) at one time (on Yom Kippur).  And even so, there were none who fulfilled the requirements of verse 4.  

The whole Psalm hinges on verse 5.  Psalm 24:5 He will receive a blessing from Adonai, righteousness from God his salvation.

It takes the blessing of Yeshua (salvation) to be able to stand before God.  Without faith in Yeshua, no one can stand before God.  In Him, we all are High Priests and we all are the Temple of God, and always have access to the Father.

Ephesians 2:18 for through Him we both (Jews and non-Jews) have access to the Father by the same Ruach. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.