Rabbi’s Reflections – Monday, October 5, 2020


Rabbi Trail:  I hope you read what Raymond Finney wrote yesterday.  Your vote can make the difference.  The margin of victory when Bush defeated Gore in Florida was ultimately 537 votes (in the entire state).  What will be the “hanging chad” of this election?  The media is already complaining that the Attorney General is using the DOJ to investigate voter fraud when no evidence of voter fraud exists.  

Trail to the Rabbi Trail:  But that’s what an investigation is for, yo-yo’s.  (I apologizing for making a slur against yo-yo’s.  I’m sure there are some wonderful yo-yo’s out there and I hate to make such a prejudicial statement as to lump all yo-yo’s in with media types.  But I’m not so sure there are any wonderful media types, and therefore; make no apologies to them.  My point, be sure you vote and do everything you can to be sure your vote is counted.  End it all.

Take a deep breath.  We continue… I’m writing this on the second day of Sukkot.  So naturally, I want to comment on this last feast mentioned in Leviticus 23.  It is mentioned last, and it is also mentioned by Zechariah as having significance during the millennial reign of Yeshua.  Zechariah 14:16 Then all the survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot, and to celebrate Sukkot. 17 Furthermore, if any of the nations on earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot, they will have no rain.  Then the Egyptians are specifically warned that this means them.

Besides all that, the Lord commands us in several places of Scripture to be joyous on Sukkot.  Seems like every message I’ve read on Sukkot this year mentions that fact.  So, why does the world need another devotional on the joyous aspects of Sukkot?  It doesn’t, but, if I may, let me add my thoughts.  

Joy and happiness are not the same.  Happiness comes from outside stimulus having that affect on us.  It is connected etymologically to “happenstance.”  Things “happen” and as a result we feel happy.  If happiness comes from outside circumstances, then outside circumstances can take it away.  

Joy, on the other hand, is internally generated.  It is a fruit of the Spirit.  Fruit is intentional.  It is cultivated and grows over time.  John 15:16a “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I selected you so that you would go and produce fruit, and your fruit would remain.”

Let me quote the Scripture that mentions the fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Ruach is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control—against such things there is no law.

This was part of our F-260 teaching Scripture this past Shabbat.  Kami pointed out to me on Saturday that if we take out the double negative, we read this regarding all the fruit of the Spirit, “…for such, there is plenty of law.”  The commandments of God yield a harvest of “fruit that remains.” 

The world is in crisis.  The real pandemic is depression.  (I “Googled” the term “depression epidemic” and got 39 million hits in less than a half a second.)  About 30 million Americans suffer from moderate to severe depression.  About 1/3 of those (10 million) suffer from severe depression.

I could take this in many different directions from here.  But I want to bring it to a close with one simple question.  Would God command us to be joyous if He did not provide the means to being joyful?  Just back up a few verses in John 15 to find the answer… John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be full. 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.

Let me highlight this… love God.  We show our love for God by obeying His commandments (John 14:15), and we love each other, which produces joy within us.  We don’t have to medicate depression, we can love our way out of it.  The answer is in the joy of serving others.  It seems like everyone wants to be a victim, but God wants us to be victorious.  Chag Sameach (happy holiday).

Week 41
Memory Verse: 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

201   10/5      Monday:       1 Thessalonians 3-5

202   10/6      Tuesday:      2 Thessalonians 1-3 

203   10/7      Wednesday: Acts 18:18-19:41

204   10/8      Thursday:     1 Corinthians 1-2

205   10/9      Friday:       1 Corinthians 3-4

Question of the Day:  What are some “take-aways” from the end of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians?

Answer:  Let’s take a look at a few.  Paul gives us 10 “commandments” for walking with God and His people in His New Covenant community.  My comments follow the Scriptures in italics.

1 Thessalonians 5:13b Keep shalom among yourselves.  Shalom is a fruit of the Spirit.  Shalom is not the opposite of fighting, but a fullness of healing every broken place.  It is wholeness and perfection.  Shalom means we lack nothing.  It is the meaning of “I shall not want.”

14 We urge you, brothers and sisters, correct the unruly, comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Interpersonal relations in the Lord are a challenge.  Mostly because none of us is perfect.  But God is perfect.  When He directs us (we are His ambassadors) in our relationships, those relationships are better.

15 See that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.  This is the definition of love; seeking the best for someone else, even if it is not the best for you.  Love is never selfish.

16 Rejoice always,  Sounds simple, but requires we keep our eyes on Him and not on circumstances or feelings.  See the message above.

17 pray constantly,  Prayer is a conversation with God.  So prayer is not just speaking to God, but also listening to God (which is the bigger challenge).

18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Messiah Yeshua.  Did Paul really mean “in everything?”  I think so, but it’s quite a challenge.  Sin is generated out of an attitude of unthankfulness.  Thanksgiving is a key to righteousness.  

19 Do not quench the Spirit,  At Shomair, we want to provide good government without quenching the Spirit.  This requires effort and balance, but under direction of the Holy Spirit, we will succeed.

20 do not despise prophetic messages,  This is similar to verse 19.  Quenching the Spirit and despising prophetic messages are so close, verse 20 could be an appositive to verse 19.

21 but test all things, hold fast to what is good, While we are not to judge, we are called to discernment.  How do we “test” all things?  We determine what is consistent with the message of Scripture.

22 keep away from every kind of evil.  That’s straightforward.  Let’s do that.