Rabbi’s Reflections – Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Shalom *|FNAME|*,

Counting the Omer – Day 45

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

Let me start with some “broad strokes” of understanding.  Then, I want to “drill down” into one aspect of God’s character.  I want to discuss the aspect of God’s character identified by His name, El Shaddai.

In broad strokes, God spoke “Lech L’cha” (to you, go) to Abram (who would later become Abraham) when he was 75 years old.  Genesis 12:1 Then Adonai said to Abram, “Get going out from your land, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.”  Thus began the “journey” (or story) of God’s love relationship with Abraham’s descendants (continued through Isaac and Jacob).  2,000 years later, God would perfect that love with the children of Israel and on to the redemption of the whole world through the sending of His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach.  That’s the broad stroke.  Now, let’s drill down.

Twenty-four years after God spoke Lech L’cha to Abram, He spoke again, this time to change his name to Abraham, and in doing so, God revealed more of His plans for Abraham.  Genesis 17:1 When Abram was 99 years old, Adonai appeared to Abram, and He said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Continually walk before Me and you will be blameless. 2 My heart’s desire is to make My covenant between Me and you, and then I will multiply you exceedingly much.”

Abraham’s response was to fall on his face.  Abraham heard the name “El Shaddai” and fell on his face.  We usually translate the name “El Shaddai” as “God Almighty,” but what does it really mean?  What does that name reveal about the character of God? 

A “Shad” in Hebrew is a “breast.”  “Shaddai” is a plural form, “breasts.”  God is identifying Himself as the God of many breasts.  This is the “genesis” (pun intended) of Yeshua speaking… John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing.”  We drink from the fatness of the root.  

I didn’t intend this, but the message today builds perfectly on yesterday’s message.  Psalm 36:8(7) How precious is Your love, O God! The children of men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. 9(8) They drink their fill from the abundance of Your House. You give them drink from the river of Your delights. 10(9) For with You is the fountain of life— in Your light we see light.

Faith is our connection to the sustaining power of God.  Romans 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off and you—being a wild olive—were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you.

Good news, you have become “a partaker” of the root with its richness.  Stay connected my friends.

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

Tue 18 May-2021 7th of Sivan, 5781 

De 15:19-16:17 Nu 28:26-31 Hab 3:1-19 2 Co 3 

The readings for today do not follow our usual pattern of reading through the Bible because the preponderance of the Jewish world is celebrating the second day of Shavuot today.  The Bible commands a one day holiday.  Why do orthodox and conservative Jews in the diaspora celebrate two days? 

The “diaspora” is a term used to describe the Jews who were “dispersed” out of Judea to the four corners of the earth.  Jews who lived great distances from Jerusalem were never sure on which day to celebrate the holiday, since the signal indicating the official day had to come out of Jerusalem.  To be sure the correct day was honored, 2 days were set aside for the holiday (and all major holidays – but not Yom Kippur).  So, we have “the day,” and an “insurance day.” 

As a community, we will be celebrating Shavuot next Sunday.  The celebration will be in 3 parts, all with our friends at Grace and Glory Fellowship.… A worship service starting at 10:30, followed by a picnic at Holston River Park pavilion (near the synagogue), and then back to the synagogue around 3pm for more worship until sundown.  This last part will be worship led by our young adults, who have carved out a time of “harp and bowl” worship on Sunday nights.  All are welcome.

Rabbi Trail:  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term “harp and bowl,” here is a link that will help.  https://www.ihopkc.org/resources/blog/ihopkc-expression-harp-bowl-model/   End RT.

The Holy Spirit was given on Shavuot (Pentecost) the 50th day, after 49 days of counting the Omer (counting our blessings).  On this day, the Lord fulfilled a very important promise (all of His promises are important).  Hear the words of Yeshua… John 14:16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper so He may be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him. You know Him, because He abides with you and will be in you.

So why did Lars Enarson put 2 Corinthians 3 into the reading for the 2nd day of Shavuot?  2 Corinthians 3:3 It is clear that you are a letter from Messiah delivered by us—written not with ink but with the Ruach of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

This holiday (as are all the other holidays) is all about our spiritual connection to God.  Every holiday has its own character, and Shavuot is no exception.   Through the giving of the Holy Spirit, Shavuot is forever set apart by itself.  Such a gift! 

Week 21
Memory Verse: Psalm 63:1 A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. 2 O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You. My soul thirsts for You. My flesh longs for You in a dry and weary land, where there is no water.

101   5/20 Monday:        1 Kings 16:29-34; 17

* 102 5/21 Tuesday:       1 Kings 18-19
103   5/22 Wednesday:  1 Kings 21-22
104   5/23 Thursday:      2 Kings 2
105   5/24 Friday:           2 Kings 5; 6:1-23

Question of the day:  There it is.  The question of the day is asked by Elijah to the children of Israel.  1 Kings 18:21b “How long will you waver between two opinions?”

Answer:  I want to answer the question by telling a story about myself.  Years ago, when I was in college, I took a young lady to a party where there were mutual friends.  I picked her up at her house brought her to the party, but when we got to the party she spent all her time with other people.  So I went up to her and asked, “I brought you here.  Are you here with me, or are you here with nobody?”  

She answered, “I’m just here to have a good time.”  Well, that wasn’t the answer I was seeking, so I let her know she was there with nobody and nobody could take her home.  God has “brought us to the party.”  If we’re not with Him, we’re here with nobody. 

Joshua offers us the same choice… Joshua 24:15 If it seems bad to you to worship Adonai, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.  Everyone will choose.  Choose wisely.  Eternity is a long time to be alone.