Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, January 8, 2021

(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

Bonus (#3 in a series):  Rabbi’s note – if you don’t know the Hebrew Alphabet, please learn it.  There are 22 letters.  Don’t let them beat you.  Rather, learn to recognize them by name.  Don’t let the average 3 year old Israeli child know more Hebrew than you.  Besides, the Hebrew letters match the English alphabet 78% of the time.  (The first two match perfectly.  Aleph – Bet match A – B.  There is also a perfect match with K (Kaf)-L (Lamed)-M (Mem)-N (Nun) and much more.

“.לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ”   

Lech-l’cha May’artzecha U’Mi’molad’t’cha U’Mi’Bayt Avicha, El-Ha’aretz, Asher Ar’e’cha.

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.”

The 3rd word is “May’artzecha.”  Whenever we study Hebrew, we must identify the Shoresh and go from there.  

Rabbi Trail:  Almost without exception, every Hebrew word is built from a 3 letter root called a Shoresh.  Some nouns don’t have them, but many do.  And almost every verb (I can’t think of one that doesn’t) has one.  There are “borrowed” words in Hebrew that don’t have them.  Israel is a “melting pot” of many cultures, just like America.  Most borrowed words don’t have a Shoresh.  Also, there are made up words, some of them onomatopoeic (they sound like their meaning, or take their meaning from a connected sound).  Those also don’t have a Shoresh.  But, as I said, they are exceptions.  Especially words with origins in the Bible have a Shoresh.  End RT.

The Shoresh “Aleph-Resh-Tzadi” is Eretz meaning “land.”  Prefixes and suffixes are prevalent in Hebrew.  Prepositions and personal pronouns are formed with prefixes and suffixes respectively.  Our word, “May’artzecha” has both.  “May” means “from” and “echa” means “your,” so “from your land” is a good translation.  

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

Fri 8-Jan-2021 24th of Tevet, 5781

Ex 4:18-31 1 Ki 3-4 Ps 104 Lk 19:1-27 (Eph 3)

In today’s reading (the Aliyah) there are 3 verses that have mystified me for years.  Today is the day they get unveiled.  

Exodus 4:24 It happened along the way, at a lodging place, that Adonai met him and sought to kill him! 25 But Zipporah took a flint, cut off the foreskin of her son, and threw it at his feet, saying, “You are surely a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 She said, “A bridegroom of blood” because of the circumcision. Then He let him alone.

What is happening here?  This episode leaves us with more questions than answers.  There are bits and pieces recorded in the Torah, but the rest is left to our understanding.  While the family was traveling to Egypt, they stopped at an inn (the Torah uses the word “Malon” which is our modern Hebrew word for “hotel.”) where Moses got sick (near death).  

Could it be possible that Moses, from his sick bed, prayed, asking God to reveal any sin in his life.  God highlighted that he had not circumcised his son.  This may have been because his Cushite wife found the practice revolting.  But Moses, being too sick to perform the circumcision begged Zipporah to do it for him.  She did it, but it disgusted her, so she threw the foreskin at his feet and declared, “What a bloody husband you are to me.”  Immediately, Moses returned to good heath.

Our take-away is found in 1 Corinthians 11.  At the end of Paul’s discussion of the proper way to take communion, we read… 1 Corinthians 11:28 But a man must examine himself, and then let him eat of the bread and drink from the cup.  Moses was about to enter Egypt where he would lead Israel through the Passover story.  The high point of that story is the sacrificed lamb, matzah and bitter herb.  Some 1,500 years later, Yeshua would build on that as the true lamb of God, with His own body and blood through the institution of communion.  

The point is this (and I have said it many times, so now I’m quoting myself, a sure sign of senility)… if we enter into communion with unrepented sin in our lives, the power of communion strengthens our sin enough to make us sick, according to Paul, even sick enough to kill us.  So, let us examine ourselves!  And when the light of Yeshua falls on our sin, may the Holy Spirit give us the courage and wisdom to repent, and change our evil ways.  

Week 2

Memory Verse: Hebrews 11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God. For the one who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

6.  1/4     Monday:            Job 38-39

7   1/5     Tuesday:           Job 40-42 

  1/6     Wednesday:     Genesis 11-12 

9   1/7     Thursday:         Genesis 15

* 10 1/8   Friday:              Genesis 16-17

Question of the Day:  Oh my, after all that talk above about circumcision, now this!  

Rabbi Trail: In Genesis 16, we have the story of the birth of Ishmael.  Then in Genesis 17, both Abraham and Sarah get name changes.  For Abraham, the addition is “Ahm” meaning “people” (from “exalted father” to “father of people” and for Sarah, the addition of the “hay” in place of the “yud” means she is no longer Abraham’s princess (possessive), but a princess to the Lord.  End RT.

The covenant of circumcision is first communicated to Abraham.  Genesis 17:10 This is My covenant that you must keep between Me and you and your seed after you: all your males must be circumcised. 11 You must be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and this will become a sign of the covenant between Me and you.  

God takes covenant seriously.  This is the same covenant that gave Moses so much trouble.  Circumcision is a sign that the place from which seed is brought forth is consecrated to God.  We are His covenant people from generation to generation (in Hebrew, “Dor L’Dor”).

Abraham asks God to confirm His covenant upon Ishmael. Genesis 17:18 So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live before you!” God confirms a blessing upon Ishmael, but His covenant is passed to and through Isaac (who is yet to be born) when the promise is made in Genesis 17.  

Then Abraham did what God commanded.  This is our example… Jacob 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.  

We are called to be faithful doers of the word… 1 John 2:3 Now we know that we have come to know Him by this—if we keep His commandments.