מַסְעֵי        מַּטּוֹת

Matot / Tribes  & Massei / Journeys   Numbers 30:2-36:13

Jeremiah 2:4-28     Matthew 5:33-37

Journeys and Boundaries...

     We end Numbers with this double parshat, Matot/Tribes and Massei/Journeys. The 42 journeys of the Israelites are recounted in this Torah portion in Numbers 33:1 -'These are the journeys of the children of Israel, who went out of the land of Egypt by their armies under the  hand of Moses and Aaron. 2 Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord. And these are their journeys according to their starting points...'         In Hebrew mindset, these 42 encampments are sometimes referred to as stops or stages.  The number 42 is a strange number for stops - why not 40 or 45? There are also forty-two words in the V'ahavtah. Coincidence?                         There are many theories as two why the forty-two stops. We don't know which of the explanations of the 42 stops is the most true; whether it's the one that speaks of evidence of divine love, or the one that testifies to miracles in specific places, or the theory that tells of miraculous events, or maybe the one that describes stages in a spiritual journey.  We do know that the metaphor of journeying is definitely a profuse one.  We  journey in our lives in search of relationships, in search of material substance, in search of good ethical and political communities, in for spiritual growth.  Life is a journey for sure, and the examples of these forty-two stops are to show us the stages and stops in our lives.                                                        In Numbers 34:1-12, God sets forth the boundaries of the land for the Israelite people.  We might wonder why boundaries?  He was/is God, why not give the Israelite people all of the land? What is the purpose of a boundary? It is a dividing line, it divides one space from another and creates self-control.                                                                                                          Proverbs 23:10-11 states: 'Do not remove the ancient landmark, Nor enter the fields of the fatherless; 11  For their Redeemer is mighty;He will plead their cause against you.'                   Connecting these two; journeys in our lives and boundaries; we can come to the realization that the boundary in our life that is there to guide us on our journey is the Torah. There is also a boundary around us and the Torah. An example is that God gave His people a command to put a boundary around Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:12. 'You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, 'Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base.  Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.' 

     There is a journey and there are boundaries around God. John 14:6 'Yeshua said to him, "I am  the way,  the truth, and  the life.  No one comes to the Father  except through Me.'  Exodus 33:20 'But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.'

     There is a journey and there are boundaries for our behavior. 1 Peter 1:16 '...because it is written,  "Be holy, for I am holy."  Quoting Leviticus 20:26 ' And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.'

     There is a journey and boundaries for our instruction. Proverbs 3:1 'My son, do not forget My teaching, but keep My commands in your heart.' Psalms 94:12 'Blessed is the man You discipline O LORD, the man you teach from Your Torah.'  2nd Timothy 3:16 'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,  and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...'

     There is a journey and there are boundaries for our yearly cycle. Leviticus 23. 

     There is a journey and a boundary for our eternal life. John 3:18 '"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.'  John 11:25 'Jesus said to her, "I am  the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may  die, he shall live."

     Chazak! Chazak! V'nitchazek  Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!     




Pinchas   Numbers 25:10-30:1

1 Kings 18:46-19:21   Romans 11:2-32

Pinchas and the Covenant of Peace...

       This paraha begins with the zealot Pinchas - 'Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.'  .'Numbers 25:11-13.

   In Chapter 27 there is the Torah of inheritance that was manifested due to the daughters of Zelophehad: '...the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; who came forward, and his daughters' names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.'

      "Our father died in the wilderness; but he was not in the company of those who gathered together against the Lord, in company with Korah, but he died in his own sin; and he had no sons. 4 Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father's brothers.' Numbers 27:3-4.

     Putting these concepts in parallel , we have a Covenant of Peace and the inheritance. What exactly is our inheritance?  Ephesians 1:11-12 states:  'In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.'

     Our inheritance is the Torah, the Living Word, it is the very will of Elohim, which therein contains the Covenant of Peace.  It is a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation that binds us to His Covenant which in all essence represents Him and His Torah - The True Shalom. 

     Isaiah 54:10 'For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed," Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.'

     Ezekiel 34:25 'I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.'

     Ezekiel 37:26 'Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.'

     When we walk in the ways of Elohim, we inherit the Covenant of peace.  When we walk outside of His will we walk in the ways of chaos.  We might think that we have order, but in reality it is our own set of order, lacking the order and the light of Elohim.  We are then walking in our own covenant, not the Covenant of God, or the Covenant of peace.  So why is it the covenant of peace?  Because He is The God of peace.

                                   Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay  


Balak / Destroyer   Numbers 22:1-25:9

Micah 5:6-6:8   Romans 11:25-32


       In this parsha, Balak seeks to have Balaam curse Israel.  We are all aware Balaam's decision to go ahead and leave and not follow the instructions of God. This led to the stopping, Balaam beating the donkey and the voice of the LORD through the donkey. 

      In Numbers 24 Balaam blesses Israel, Numbers 24:1-2  'Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at  other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness. 2 And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel  encamped according to their tribes; and  the Spirit of God came upon him.'

    When he is finished with the blesing, the anger of Balak is aroused, at which point Balaam speaks the curse that will come upon Moab. Numbers 24:17-

"I  see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near;
 A Star shall come out of Jacob;A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult."

    In Numbers 25, the last part of this parsha there reveals an unsettling apathy and an influence that overtook the Israelites.  Numbers 25:1-5 states: 'While Israel was staying at Shittim, the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 Thus Israel yoked itself to the Baal of Peor, and the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel. 4 The Lord said to Moses, "Take all the chiefs of the people, and impale them in the sun before the Lord, in order that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel." 5 And Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you shall kill any of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor."

     The people of Israel 'yoked' themselves to Baal, another god. In the last Torah portion, Chukat, we learned about the red heifer which was pure as stated in Numbers 19:2 '... an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed.'   Notice that there is to be no yoke. 

     And in 1 Samuel 6:7 it is two milch cows that have never been yoked that were to return the Ark -  'Now then, get ready a new cart and two milch cows that have never borne a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8 Take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart...'

     In Jeremiah 2:20 and Jeremiah 5:5 yokes are broken.  

     Deuteronomy 28:47-48 states: "Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you."

     In Hosea 10:11 the prophet references Ephraim and a yoke around her neck. In Leviticus 26:13 God reminds us that He broke the yoke of bondage of slavery.  

     A yoke keeps one either connected to something good or evil or in bondage. One can yoke themselves to slavery, to idols, to other religions, to other gods or one can yoke themselves to the The God.  

     Matthew 11:28-30 'Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

     Notice that Yeshua is speaking about His yoke on us.  Not yoke free, not free to live and to do as we please, not running wild as in a wild donkey, but yoked to Him.  And what is He?  He is the living word, the living water, the Torah incarnate, John 1:1, John 14:6, John 7:37.   And what would His yoke be? The Father's Word, The Torah, the teachings and instructions of God. John 8:54 clearly states that Yeshua came to glorify The Father, not some other way of life. Therefore His Yoke is that of The Father. 

    If we are truly yoked to Yeshua, then we are yoked to Elohim and His ways.  

    Imagine two oxen being yoked and the farmer is ready to plow.  He is the director, the master and he has a plan for his field.  The oxen try to differ and want desperately to turn, to make their own path. They do not follow the path of their master for the planting. They rebel. Their yoke now becomes bondage.  

     When we submit to the loving word of The Father, the yoke becomes easy and there is no burden,the burden is light.  That is the promise of Yeshua for by His mercy we are yoked to Him.  If we aren't yoked to Yeshua, then just what are we yoked to?

                               Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay  




Chukat / Decrees    Numbers 19:1-22:1

Judges 11:1-33     Hebrews 9:11-28

The Rock...

           The beginning of this Torah portion, Chukat God teaches Moses the instructions of the red heifer. Interestingly, the writer of Hebrews compares the sanctification of a person by the red heifer to the sanctification of a person by the Messiah.   

     Hebrews 9:13-15   "For if  the blood of bulls and goats and  the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,  cleanse your conscience from  dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."

     This Torah portions also concludes the wandering in the wilderness of 40 years as the children of Israel come to the wilderness of Zin. It was at this place that the congregation of Israel gathered against Moses and Aaron grumbling once again about being in the wilderness without water (verse 20:5). God instructs Moses to speak to the rock before their eyes and it will bring water, "...thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock and give drink to the congregation and their animals." (20:8). 

     Moses calls the Israelites 'rebels' and struck the rock twice.  Moses clearly gives the children of Israel his opinion in Numbers 20:10  'And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?"  

     In Numbers 20:12, God rebukes Moses and gives him the exact reason of the consequences that he will face. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."

    Notice it isn't because Moses lost his temper, or even called them rebels.  It is because he didn't believe God and didn't hallow Him.  Moses made God common by losing his temper and striking the rock. 

    The Rock: 1 Corinthians 10:4 '...and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.'

     The Water: John 4:4  '...but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.'  John 7:37 '...He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.'

     Even though we are aware that the Rock is Yeshua and He gives us the Living Water, do we sometimes behave in the same such manner?  When we lose our faith, which would cause us to question what we believe in, then we do exactly what Moses did - we fail to hallow God within us or to the nations.  Hallow is the English word, but the Hebrew word is qadash קָדַשׁ meaning to consecrate, set apart, keep holy, proclaim, purify, sanctify.  

     When Moses struck the rock and did not 'speak to the rock before their eyes' the attention turned to him instead of what God was just about to do.  He became the focal point of that situation to hundreds of thousand of Israelites; who were obviously very thirsty, demanding water, and who just observed Moses strike a rock, thus releasing living water.  Imagine the scene if Moses would have walked calmly to the rock and spoken softly to it.  These were to be Divine Words, not a dramatic outburst.  Moses changed the instructions to suit his emotions at that time. And who knows, maybe we all would have, he was obviously extremely frustrated.  

     If we waiver and strike The Rock but do not speak, we bring His Name to a common place. His Name reiterates His walk, so in the Name Yeshua is the Walk of Adonai, the Living Water of the Rock, the Bread of Life and the Living Word. When we change His structure, His Way, His Walk, we bring His Name to nothing, showing God that we lack the faith to follow Him to live in His Covenant.  We in essence make our own covenant. 

    Out of the Rock comes the Living Water and we are to call on the Name:  Joel 2:32 'And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said,
'Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.'

     Romans 10:13 ' For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."  

     Acts 2:21 'And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

    We call on His Name, we call onto His walk.  When we defile the Walk we strike the Rock.                         . 

                               Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay  



Korach / Ice                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Numbers 16:1-18:32

1 Samuel 11:14-12:22   Romans 13:1-7

The Chaos of Korach...

      Everything has a root.  A tree, a flower, a problem, an addiction, a character trait. Understand the root, understand the person or situation. 

     Cain was jealous of Abel. The root was jealousy which turned to anger, became rage and eventually led to murder. 

     Korach was jealous of Moshes' authority, yet Korach himself was a Levite, a leading member of Kehatites, the most prestigious of the Levite families. He, himself had authority, position and prestige. And through this position, it wasn't difficult for him to persuade 250 men to follow in his rebellion.  If only these 250 would have really listened to Korach's persuasive words and thought for a brief moment about his character, they might have given a second glance to what they were participating in - and thus lived.

     We see that Korach's arguments against Moses and Aaron are full of contradictions. On one hand, he challenges the very institution of the priesthood, telling Moses and Aaron: "The entire community is holy, and God is within them; why do you raise yourselves over the congregation of God?" Here he seems to be against the Levite priesthood, which he was apart of.  Then on the other hand, he contends that he is the more worthy candidate for the High Priesthood. 

     What leads to what:


Proverbs 25:27 - ' It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.'

Proverbs 28:25 - 'He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered.'


1 Corinthians 3:4 - ' for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?'

Galatians 5:16 - 'Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.'


Isaiah 13:11 - 'Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.'

Jeremiah 50:31-32 - "Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one," Declares the Lord GOD of hosts, "For your day has come, the time when I will punish you. "The arrogant one will stumble and fall with no one to raise him up; and I will set fire to his cities and it will devour all his environs."


1 Samuel 15:23 - 'For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.'

Isaiah 1:5 - 'Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint.'

     The character traits of Korach are obvious, and evil to the core. But what could have happened to arouse the discontent in the 250 that they would follow Korach to their grave? Was it their insecurity, wanting to be acknowledged, falling for flattery or the very idol of their heart?

  In Numbers 16:26 God makes it very clear that they were evil and soon to die in their sins: 'And he spoke to the congregation, saying,  "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins."

    Consumed in their sins.  God is stating that we can definitely be influenced by others - evil or good. We can become consumed in someone else's sins!

     Numbers 16:31-33 'Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and  all the men with Korach, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.'

      Korach and his words were snares to those that followed, they were sweet words dripping with honey. What does Scripture say about following the wrong person?

     Judges 2:3 - 'Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be  thorns in your side, and  their gods shall be a  snare to you.' 

     Proverbs 12:26 - 'The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.'

     The 250 followed their egos to their death: Numbers 16:35 - 'And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.'

    Are we choosing our paths correctly?  What is our snare?  Ego? Pride? Lots of friends? Being included? Knowing all the gossip? Being popular? Being a big fish in a small pond? This was the manipulative mindset of Korach as he had to draw others with him. Notice that he didn't face Moshe and Aaron alone, he had to round up others - he had to have back up, liken to bullies that have a following. But those that follow bullies are in reality weak and are only there as a false backdrop for a false front.  

     Proverbs 13:20 - 'Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.'

    The influence of Korach is centered around taking rather than giving.  It defines itself by what it is against, rather than what it is for. The spirit of Korach only has itself as its vision and then proclaims it's own holiness. 

    May we truly seek the wisdom of Adonai.                      . 

                               Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay  



Sh'lach Lecha / Send For Yourself   

 Numbers 13:1-15:41

Joshua 2:1-24         Mark 10:1-45

Do You See What I See?

            'Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan." 30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.'

     This is a classic accounting of a fear based negative report relying only upon the characteristics of the person/persons telling the story. The negative report was perceived by 10 of the 12 that were sent out to observe the land where God was taking them. This was the place where God wanted His people to go - a place where grapes were larger than life, a place of milk and honey, a place of God; and yet the 10 spies couldn't see the vision. They lacked the strength, the faith and the trust in God.

     This negative report influenced the people- excluding Joshua and Caleb- and caused them to look at life through their own perception. 

     Isaiah 55:8-9 ' 'For  My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. 9 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'  

       2 Corinthians 4:17-18 'For our light and affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.' 

     Psalm 119:18 'Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things about your law.'

     Isaiah 5:21 'Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.'

     Amos 3:7 'For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.'

     Proverbs 20:12 'The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.'

     Hebrews 11:1 states: 'Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.'

     The 10 spies that brought back the negative report lacked faith in God, yet somehow had superficial faith in their own assumptions. The way they degraded the land and themselves, displayed an arrogance as they lofted their opinion over that of God's direction. Their perception of the land was more accurate - in their sight -  than that of the very God that sent them!  

     Today, James 1:5 speaks volumes to us if we are ever influenced in a negative anti-Torah approach - 'If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.' Who give generously to all...

     The 10 reported that the land was indeed good, flowing with milk and honey. But, they countered that report with the fact that the people were strong and the cities large and well fortified. Caleb tried to calm the people - "We can do it," he told them.  But the ten said that it could not be done. 'The people are stronger than we are! They are giants! We are grasshoppers!

     And so the terrible happened - the people lost heart. "If only," they said, "we had died in Egypt. Let us choose a leader and go back."  Again, God grew angry with His people, again Moses pleads with God, and again, God has mercy- but with a condition - that none of that generation, with the exceptions of Caleb and Joshua, would live to enter the land. The people would stay in the wilderness for forty years, and there they would die. Their children would eventually inherit what might have been theirs had they only had faith.

    The importance here is the fact that the report of the ten spies was utterly unfounded. Only much later, in the book of Joshua, when Joshua himself sent spies, did they learn from Rahab, what actually happened when the inhabitants of the land heard that the Israelites were coming.The spies were terrified of the Canaanites, and entirely failed to realize that the Canaanites were terrified of them.

     It is our lesson to learn that it is through faith that we are strong. It is not through out own ideals, our own perceptions, our own conclusions, but our faith and trust in the Almighty God of the universe. Joshua and Caleb were probably aware of some of the obstacles, however, they didn't waiver in their faith that God would be with them. Their faith and trust was in Him, completely. 

                      .                                Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay  


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ  Beha'alotcha / When You Step Up    June 2, 2018                                                                                                                                            Numbers 8:1-12:15  Zechariah 2:14-4:7    1 Corinthians 10:6:13

The Context of Beha'alotcha...

       What a parsha!   Beha'alotcha begins in chapter 8 with the instructions to Aaron in regards to the menorah. He is to arrange the seven lamps which will give light in front of the lampstand. "And Aaron did so; he arranged the lamps to face towards the front of the lampstand..."               To illuminate -  to shine light in front of the menorah. Revelation 4:5 states that the light again shines before the lampstand. "And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."

     We are the light reflecting from God back to God. John 8:12 - "I am the Light of the world..." Psalm 27:1 - "The Lord is my light and salvation..." 2 Corinthians 4:6 - "For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Yeshua."  

     God reflects to us His glorious light, we in turn shine His light to others, bringing glory back to Him. To accomplish this we must not only accept the free gift of His love, and His Son, but also walk in His Ways: Psalm 119:105 - "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

     A most important Scripture: Proverbs 20:27 - 'The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.' Like the lamp, the function of the soul is to illuminate its surroundings, bringing the light from the Creator. The first instruction expresses the common objective of the menorah's lights. All lamps are turned toward the menorah. Even after they have branched off into seven distinct lamps, and are burning with seven individual lights, all are directed toward the light of God.

     Chapter 9 reiterates the importance of the Passover.  God also initiates a second Pesach for those who are either unclean or are away on a journey as stated in Numbers 9:10. However, this grace is met with a severe condition if ignored as shown in Numbers 9:13 - "But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of the Lord at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin."

     Beha'alotcha also mentions God as the cloud by day and the fire by night. The obedience of the children of Israel following the cloud is shown in Numbers 9:22 - "Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the Tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey."

     Numbers 10:34-36 has the description of the Ark traveling before the people and the declaration that Moshe would speak: 

'So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: "Rise up, O Lord!  Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You."

36 And when it rested, he said: "Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel."

     Chapter 11, despite all the miracles that God performed, describes the murmuring of the Israelites.  Beha'alotcah continues in Numbers 11:10-16 with the frustration of Moshe (12) "Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,' to the land which You swore to their fathers?" In verse 15 Moshe even asks for death.

     God answers Moshe with the gathering of the 70 elders, and the excess amount of quail, "until it comes out off your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you because you have despised the LORD who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?" (11:20).

     In Numbers 12:5 God Himself personally rebukes Miriam and Aaron. He strikes Miriam with the skin disease, where upon the children of Israel remained at the camp for seven days until they moved from Hazeroth to Paran. 

     This Torah portion, if nothing else reveals to us, the light of God, the Oneness of God, the purpose of God, the grace of God, the wrath of God, the very structure of God and the love of God. In turn, it shows us that we are to be the light of God, the oneness of God, live the purpose of God, be grateful for His grace on us, be in awe of His wrath, and live in obedience because we love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19.      

                   .                                Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     נָשֹׂא    Naso / To Lift Up     May 26, 2018                                                                                                                                                                           Numbers 4:21-7:89    Judges 13:2-5    John 11:1-54

  A Blessing...

       This Torah portion contains rules for the service of the Gershonite families in Numbers 4, the rules for the spirit of jealousy in chapter 5 and chapter 7 speaks about the anointing and the sanctification of the mishkan. 'And it was that on the day that Moses finished erecting the Mishkan, he anointed it, sanctified it, and all its vessels, and the altar and all its vessels, and he anointed them and sanctified them.'

     Numbers 6:24-26 contains the Aaronic Blessing:

24"May The Lord  bless you and  keep you;
25 May The Lord  make His face shine upon you,
And  be gracious to you;
26 May The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And  give you peace." 

     What is it to bless?  Bless is Baruch in Hebrew, and in this context it is to favor, and to keep us in His way and will and word. Psalms 145:19 says: 'God shows favor to those who honor him, listening to their cries for help and saving them.'

    What is the shining of the face? The shekinah glory of God, the radiance that beamed onto Moshe that made his face glow from the very essence of God; Exodus 34:29-35.  To have such glory within us illuminates His love to others, meaning: may His presence be evident in us and may He leave a visible trace of His being on the face we show to others.

     What is the meaning of Elohim being gracious to us?  Grace has such a strong connotation in the Christian world that we often forget grace/chasad/chein/ began in the Torah.  In Genesis 6:8 we are told that Noach found grace/favor in YHWH's eyes. 

      Isaiah 30:18 states: 'Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.'

       To lift up His countenance can render in Hebrew 'face' or appearance or eye/ayin.  In Luke 9:28-29 it states that as Yeshua prayed His countenance (the appearance of His face) changed and His robe became white and glistening. 

     Peace, shalom, as in His love, and His Word.  John 16:33 says: 'I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'

     Every Sabbath we recite the Aaronic Blessing. It is an integral part of the Hebrew lifestyle and culture. We are asking God for His favor, His grace, shining glory and peace in our lives. We are asking God for God. 

     Yet the most profound element of the blessing, however, lies in the concluding sentence: "So they will put My Name on the Israelites, and I will bless them." Numbers 6:27.  God shows us in this one simple sentence that it is He who blesses, with His Name/walk, and may He keep us in His Way so that we may be a blessing back to Him.                       . 

                               Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay  


B'midbar / In the Wilderness    Numbers 1:1-4:20    May 19,2018                                                                                                                                                Our Search...

     This Torah portion begins the book of B'midbar / In the Wilderness or the Book of Numbers.  The name "In the Wilderness" is so much more appropriate than simply just 'Numbers', (which was given that English name due to the census) for B'midbar is an entire book of the Torah dedicated to the 40 year journey of the Israelite's in the wilderness from slavery to freedom.

     Rabbi Kula writes: "The true goal of the Exodus was to take Egypt out of the Israelites. The experience of the seemingly endless journey transformed a people - crushed, frightened, subservient and dependent - into a people with initiative, self-respect, anger at oppression and even militancy. The Israelites at the Jordan are a very different people from the one that left Egypt. They are ready to fight their own battles. They are a community committed to one another and to the covenant that binds them together. Bamidbar reminds us that wherever we live, there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land, but the way to that land is through the wilderness. There is no way to get there except by joining together and marching day after day."

     Marching day after day...what a metaphor for our lives. We too have had to leave a type and shadow of Egypt, whatever it may be. Religion, baggage, doubt, fear and so on. It is our struggle with the hear and now that we keep marching through in search of...

     We learn and accept that we must leave the  Egypt in our lives and we do so with a moment of pure triumph. But the acknowledgement is easier than dealing with the frustrations that come with that. The freedom is sweet, but the transition from slavery to that freedom can be costly. 

     B'midbar shows us a people dealing with the frustrations of a new life and establishing new rules and customs, as well as defining its leadership, not so unlike our lives now in 2018. We are often in search of that moment when we have 'arrived'. 

     What we need to realize is that it takes time to adjust, learn and to grow. The catch is to allow God to work in our lives and extend that growth to us. We do however, often realize that the changes taking place can be beneficial for our growth. The challenges we face force us to evaluate ourselves and adapt, adjust, and move forward in our journey. Though we may initially feel lost in the wilderness, we know that as we move towards His Torah and Way, we begin to feel in sync with Him as we move out of the wilderness. 

     Proverbs 3:6 'Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.'

     Proverbs 16:9  'A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.'              . 

                               Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay