Rabbi’s Reflections – Thursday, May 13, 2021


Many of you have asked after my daughter, Jaqi, who lives in South Tel Aviv and works in Rishon L’Tzion.  She is fine.  Yesterday the alarms sounded and she quickly went to her bomb shelter.  In Israel, they give you an award for being stupid if you don’t go quickly to the bomb shelter.  The award says you can pay the fine or make an appearance before the judge, where things get really interesting.  We thank God for His protecting love and invite you to continue to pray.  

Counting the Omer – Day 40

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 five weeks and five days of the counting of the Omer.

Day 40 of the counting of the Omer is especially important to us as followers of Yeshua.  Acts 1:3 To them He showed Himself to be alive after His suffering through many convincing proofs, appearing to them for forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.  These 40 days were the first 40 days of the counting of the Omer.  Yeshua was teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world.  

In fact, in many ways they are exact opposites.  The kingdoms of this world are selfish.  The Kingdom of God is selfless.  The kingdoms of this world are all about getting ahead.  The Kingdom of God operates by this principle… Matthew 6:33 But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  The kingdoms of this world are performance based, all about works, all about striving.  The Kingdom of God is about keeping Him first and living in His righteousness.  The Kingdom of God is about grace… Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God. 9 It is not based on deeds, so that no one may boast.

When we pray our liturgical prayers, almost all of them being with these words… “Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech HaOlam.”  I want to focus today on the last two words, “Melech HaOlam.”  “Melech” means King.  “HaOlam” means “the Universe, or Eternity.”  I’m capitalizing them both because they are nouns that refer to a particular person or place.  

Give this a minute to percolate.  God is King of Eternity.  His Kingdom is Eternal, so therefore; He is the Eternal King.  While we can talk about Eternity, I want to propose that our minds (which are finite) cannot really comprehend the infinite.  Let’s try.  Oh joy, the joy of being with God for all Eternity.  Oh my, the pain and suffering of being separate and apart from God for all Eternity.  As the Knight Templar said to Indiana Jones, “Choose wisely.”

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

Thu 13 May-2021 2nd of Sivan, 5781

Nu 3:14-39 Jer 15 Job 35 (Mk 3) Ro 15

By and large, Jeremiah lamented the destruction of Jerusalem and the separation of the children of Israel from the favor of God.  There are a few verses at the end of today’s reading in Jeremiah 15 that remind us that God will never stop loving Israel.  

Jeremiah 15:19a Therefore thus says Adonai: “If you return, I will restore you.”  20b “I am with you to save you and deliver you.”  21a “So I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked.”

The first word here is a very small word, but it is the biggest word in the Bible, “IF.”  We must not forget to turn… turn from our wicked ways, turn from sin, turn from this world… Jeremiah 15:19b Let them (your enemies) turn to you, but you must not turn to them.  The Hebrew word for “turn” or “return” is connected etymologically to “repent.”  

“T’shuvah” is to make a change of direction.  We were walking away from God, but we turn and begin walking toward Him.  To “repent” is not just a change of direction, it is a change of heart.  The path we follow after repentance leads us to God.  Matthew 7:14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Purpose to be among the few who find it.

Week 20
Memory Verse: Proverbs 3:5 Trust in Adonai with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

96   5/14 Monday:        Proverbs 1-2

97   5/15 Tuesday:       Proverbs 3-4
98   5/16 Wednesday:  Proverbs 16-18
* 99 5/17 Thursday:      Proverbs 31
100 5/18 Friday:          1 Kings 11-12

Question of the day:  Ayshet Chyil, Mi Yimtzah?  (The first Hebrew words of Proverbs 31:10) What does that really mean?

Answer:  The usual translation is, “A woman of valor, who can find?”  It is the first words of the last 22 verses of Proverbs 31, which ends the book.  Those verses describe the virtuous woman.  “Ayshet” is the word for “woman.”  “Mi Yimtzah” are the words for “who will find?”  That means that we will spend the rest of today explaining “Chayil,” which is not so straightforward.  

“Chayil” (Shoresh Chet-Yud-Lamed) means strength.  First of all, the Proverbs 31 woman is strong.  In what sense, though, is she strong?  We read about her strength in all the rest of the chapter.  She has strength of character and integrity.  Her strength comes from God and she has enough to share her strength with others.  

This Hebrew word is also used to describe success.  Ayshet Chayil is a woman of success.  Success is not a destination, but a path of continual victory.  The world wants to knock us off the path of victory, but the Ayshet Chayil uses power from God to continue on the path of success.  

Lastly, this same word is used to describe a soldier.  In what sense is an Ayshet Chayil a woman soldier?  First, she is in the Lord’s army.  Secondly, she is disciplined.  Lives are at risk.  Not following God’s instructions (military orders) needlessly puts both her and her family at risk.

One thing soldiers do is hold the line.  Their part of the line of defense is secure.  Beyond defense, an army attacks the enemy.  The only weapon we have to use in attacking the enemy is the Word of God, which is also called the sword of the spirit (Hebrews 4:12).  Satan has stolen what belongs to God.  It is God’s people who will take back what the enemy has stolen.  Isaiah 54:17a No weapon formed against you will prosper.