Rabbi’s Reflections – Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Yom Kippur is past Sukkot is ahead,

Shalom faithful readers.  Where have I been?  No RR on Monday, and no RR on Tuesday.  Yup, I took Yom Kippur off.  I think this is different, as I believe I wrote every day for the last few years.  The holidays are demanding with messages to prepare and the services with overheads to make.  I just didn’t have the time or energy to write during the holiday.  Anyway, enough of my excuses (there are more).  Please forgive me.  I’m back writing today (Tuesday morning).  

Here is something related to Yom Kippur I started writing and never got published.  I hope you enjoy it.

“Gamar Chatima Tovah” (finally, a good signature) is how we “salutate” each other on Yom Kippur.  That’s a word I thought I just made up, but later found in The Urban Dictionary.  You may remember we started the holidays on Yom Teruah (Yom Teruah is the biblical name for the holiday popularly known today as Rosh Hashanah.) with the greeting, “Shanghai Tovah” (good year) or alternatively “L’shanah Tovah” (For a good year).  Then, as the holiday progressed we added a word, “L’shanah Tovah Tikatevu” (For a good year and may you be written).

That first word in the paragraph above, “Gamar,” is a word upon which I would like to expound.  It is a word we use in modern Hebrew in different forms to mean an issue is closed or concluded.  

Rabbi Trail:  I once used it a way that I thought was creative, but turned out to mean something else.  I was having a conversation with a fellow worker.  We would often mix Hebrew and English (forming what Leon Mazin calls “Heb-lish”).  To indicate the conversation was over, or the last word was spoken, I closed with one word, “Gamarnu.”  Turns out that is understood as “we are finished,” as in kaput – which is German for “we are done in or our life is ended.”  If your car won’t run, you could say it is kaput.  Anyway, I like to laugh at myself and now you get to join in the fun.  End RT.

Meanwhile, what about that “issue” that is now closed?  The issue is called in theological terms “soteriology.”  Soteriology is the study about the “who, what, when, where and why” of salvation.  The Jewish faith teaches that on Rosh Hashanah the book of life is opened and, for 10 days, God decides who will live and die for another year.  How does God make up His mind?  According to Jewish teaching, God determines the faithfulness and intentionality of each person’s prayers along with his/her actions.  

The image this brings to mind is that of a scale with weights.  What a person does good, weighs in on one side and the bad things weigh in on the other side.  At the end of 10 days, near the end of Yom Kippur, the fate is sealed based on the weight of evidence.  If the good outweighs the bad, another year of life, and if the bad outweighs the good, death.  Of course, there is the intentionality of repentance that can change bad into good, and tip the scale in favor of life.

There are so many holes (problems) with this line of thinking, it is hard for me to write them all.  The rabbis themselves realize the futility of this process.  The rabbis teach that if you offend in any point of the law, at any time, it is as if you never kept any law at all – ever.  For instance, in reciting the Shema… the rabbis teach it must be recited 3 times per day.  If only one time is missed, it is as if the Shema had never been said, even once.

That standard is impossible to attain, and everyone knows it.  Yeshua raised the bar even higher, saying… Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  

And the rabbis even agree with this too.  A “tzadik” is a righteous person.  The rabbis believe there is at least one tzadik in every generation.  And they define a tzadik like this… a tzadik is a person who not only controls every action and word, but every thought as well.  The Chabad movement believes the Lubavitcher Rebbe is a tzadik.  But he died in June of 1994, and there has been no successor.  We Messianics believe Yeshua is THE Tzadik.  The once for all time Tzadik.

So then, who is written in the book of life?   The issue is not to be written for another year, but to be written for all eternity.  By faith, we receive eternal life.  We believe in the Son of God, Yeshua HaMashiach, and receive life from His resurrection.  Here is a website with 100 verses that prove this principle.  https://www.openbible.info/topics/justification_by_faith_alone 

Keith and I both gave excellent messages that touched on this during the Yom Kippur holiday.  They can be viewed here.  https://www.facebook.com/shomair.yisrael/  I was challenged recently (by someone anonymously online) that believing in a vicarious death is not Jewish.  Oh, contraire mon frere.  

Every sacrifice in Temple days was a vicarious death.  Leviticus 1:4 He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, so that it will be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.  Does it get any more vicarious than that?  As I said before, the Son of God died for our sins.  When we believe on Him, that is the same as us laying our hands on Him, as He takes our place.  

We deserve death (a life for a life), but He received our punishment.  Isaiah 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our pains. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, struck by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities. The chastisement for our shalom was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Our salvation is sealed by His death and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Yeshua wrote our “Gamar Chatima Tovah” with the “ink” of His own blood.  We who believe are eternally sealed.  If you accept Him right now, welcome to the family of God.

Week 40
Memory Verse: Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, because they received the message with goodwill, searching the Scriptures each day to see whether these things were true.

196   9/28      Monday:       Acts 15-16 

197   9/29      Tuesday:      Galatians 1-3 

* 198 9/30      Wednesday: Galatians 4-6

199   10/1      Thursday:     Acts 17-18:17 

200   10/2      Friday:       Thessalonians 1-2

Question of the Day:  Galatians 4:9b So how can you turn back again to those weak and worthless principles? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?

Answer:  Everyone who wants to challenge our Messianic Jewish beliefs loves to throw the book of Galatians at us.  There is a basic mistake in their thinking.  There is a mistaken idea that by obeying God (and taking His commandments seriously) we are putting ourselves “under the law” and negating grace.  Everyone who follows Yeshua becomes more righteous, not less so.

Obedience to God cannot be against God.  Jacob 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.  Yeshua even asked, Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me ‘Master, Master’ and do not do what I say?  Here is the point.  The law has not changed.  Yeshua said… John 5:19 Therefore Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself. He can do only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.

The Law of God is eternal. Paul asks the question… Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the Torah through faithfulness? May it never be! On the contrary, we uphold the Torah.  It is our approach to the Law that has changed in Messiah Yeshua. The flesh has to perform, while the spirit delights to do the will of God.  Let’s delight to do that.