Rabbi’s Reflections – Thursday, June 18, 2020 



Erev Shabbat, Friday, June 19th at 6:00PM:  We will resume our congregational monthly Erev Shabbat gathering tomorrow night (check the date, it makes a difference when you’re reading this).  We will gather for a communal meal at 6PM and have a one hour Kabbalat Shabbat worship service beginning at 7PM.  

Rabbi is cooking (2 kinds of chicken and rice, mushroom and Bar-B-Que).  Please bring a drink, side, salad or a dessert.  Future Erev Shabbat gatherings depend on how the community responds to this one.  It’s not just attendance, but participation and willingness to help set-up (come at 5:30), serve and clean up (prepare to stay after the service is over at 8PM).   We’ll see how it goes.

1 John 3:18 Children, let us not love with word or talk, but in deed and truth!   Galatians 5:13b through love serve one another.

Shema lesson 9: Today four Hebrew words in purple near the bottom; (looks like 3 because the last 2 are hyphenated) U’Q’shar’tam L’ot Al-Yadecha.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand.”

U’Q’shar’tam: The root Qashar (Kuf-Shin-Resh) means a strong bond (like a band of brothers) found among those working toward a common goal.  It goes way beyond acquaintance, all the way to intimacy.  We refer to this in English (borrowed Hebrew) as “Kesher” – from which we get the word “Kosher.”  Please catch the connection.  

Rabbi Trail:  It’s been a while since we had a good RT.  I think this will be a good one.  Our society places intimacy squarely in the physical realm. (physical intimacy) But, for every physical reality there is a greater spiritual reality, and we (human beings) are no exception in fact, we’re the rule for intimacy.  Better than that, we humans are the gold standard for intimacy.  

Intimacy is part of our created being.  Do you recall the teaching on longings which lasted for the 49 days of the counting of the Omer?  We are created in the image of God with a longing for intimacy (we called it “intimacy without shame”).  And like all of our longings, intimacy is only fulfilled adequately in our relationship with Yeshua, Who is our Lord.  

We see, feel and touch what is physical, but what is spiritual in us is just as real, even more so.  To have emotional intimacy, we have to be willing to be open and vulnerable.  You may have heard it described as “let your guard down” or “take off the mask.”

Here, the paragraph we’re studying started with Deut 6:5 “You shall love the Lord, your God.”  God is calling us to let our guard down; remove the mask.  God knows everything anyway.  Just think, God created the world just to provide a place so that He could have a relationship with you.  Would He ever be satisfied with a superficial acquaintance?  He uses every word in the Bible on purpose.  God is calling us here to Kesher, (https://www.pealim.com/dict/2938-kesher/) a deep connection with Himself. End RT

Another Rabbi Trail:  The principle of first use is important in any Scripture study.  Simply put, we learn a lot from the way a word is first used in the Bible.  Every other use of that word going forward must conform to that first use.  We can’t just arbitrarily assign new meanings to words as we go along.  End ART.  

The first use of this Hebrew root is in Genesis 30:41 where we learn how strong the bond of Jacobs flocks was in bearing healthy livestock for Jacob (and conversely Laban’s were sickly).  By using this word, God is calling us to be a part of Jacob’s flock.  Aren’t you glad?  

Rabbi Trail:  To those of you who are Hebrew scholars (or even just Hebrew knowledgable), is this explanation consistent with Scripture and word use?  For the rest of you, you’ll have to take my word for it (or do your own research).  I believe I’m telling you the truth, but I am correctable.  The first time I published this, no-one offered any correction.  End RT.

L’ot: (pronounced L’oat, like the “oats” you feed horses) An “Ot” is a “sign.”  It carries a connotation of “miraculous sign,” like a sign from heaven.  The first use is when God calls the seasons a sign in Genesis 1 as God created day and night and seasons.

Al-Yadecha:  Meaning “on your hand.”

God is saying in these 3 words that we are to treat the intimate binding up with Him as a miraculous sign on our hand.  Is it simply coincidental that we swear by raising our hand?  Or that we wear a wedding ring (sign of the marriage covenant) on our hand?  

The rabbis saw these words and came up with tefillin (phylacteries).  These are the black leather straps put on every weekday morning by observant Jewish men.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tefillin 

This paragraph of Scripture is building.  It starts with declaring the oneness of God.  From there is tells us how completely to love Him.  Then, how to meditate and speak of “these words (things).”  And now, to swear by this covenant of intimacy.  Wow!  When we thank God for His Torah (the paragraph we are studying is in the Torah and is called the “greatest commandment” by Yeshua), we are saying a lot.

Week 25
Memory Verse: Ezekiel 36:26 Moreover I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27 I will put My Ruach within you. Then I will cause you to walk in My laws, so you will keep My rulings and do them.

121   6/18   Monday:   Jeremiah 31:30(31)-39(40); 32-33

122   6/19   Tuesday:    Jeremiah 52; 2 Kings 24-25
123   6/20   Wednesday Ezekiel 1:1-3; 36:16-38; 37 

* 124 6/21   Thursday:   Daniel 1-2
125   6/22   Friday:   Daniel 3-4

Question of the day:  Daniel is in a pickle.  He’s about to be executed along with all the “wise men” of Babylon, when he begs for more time.  Daniel needs a little time to hear from God.  I’m impressed he “spoke with tact and discretion” to the king’s guard to get the time he needed.  What did Daniel pray when God answered his request?

Answer:  Daniel prayed a prayer.  Daniel 2:20b “Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. 21 He changes times and seasons. He removes kings and installs kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with Him. 23 To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise! For You gave me wisdom and power. You have made known to me what we asked of You. You revealed to us the word of the king.”

This impressed me so much because Daniel is a remarkable character in the Bible.  He lived a long life (about 95 years) under very trying conditions.  His friends survived the fiery furnace.  Daniel himself survived the lions den.  He served four kings, each from a different culture, making himself valuable to each of them.   There were conspiracies against him (real ones).  But nothing kept him from faithfulness to God. 

Why am I writing this to you?  For encouragement.  Whatever God did for Daniel, He will do for you.  Isaiah 55:6 Seek Adonai while He may be found, call on Him while He is near.