לֶךְ-לְךָ Lech Lecha / Go For Yourself
Lech Lecha literally means to betake yourself, to go forth and find yourself. In Genesis 12:1 Elohim commands Abram to leave his country, his father and his father’s house and go to the land where God will make him a great nation. Reading from the prior Torah portion, this might seem strange that suddenly God calls this man Abram to be the father of a great nation, for just in Genesis 11:27 we read of Abram’s birth and in verse 11:28 we suddenly read of Haran’s death. What we don’t know, unless we study the Scroll of Yashur; is the extraordinary journey of Abram’s life prior to being called from God.
Abram studied and lived in the house of Noach until he was fifty, prior to that his father hid him in a cave to conceal him from Nimrod who sought to kill him. His father was a captain in Nimrod’s army, an idol worshiper and willing to save himself at any cost. Abram was against the idol worship and confronted his father often, and at one point taking an ax and chopping up the idols, then cynically blaming it on the ‘biggest’ idol. It says that Abram knew The Lord and His Ways.
Abram was called out by God to go for himself. He had to leave his father, his father’s ways, and even his father’s land to establish the great nation that he was called for. Genesis 12:7 – ‘And The Lord appeared to Abram and said “To your seed I will give this land” and there he built an altar to The Lord who appeared to him.’
In Genesis 15, after a famine, the birth of Ishmael and the obvious doubts that Abram had in regards to having children by Sarai, God appears to Abram. ‘Fear not’, are the words of God in verse 1 and He continues with’ I am a shield for you’. This assurance is God’s promise is clear that the inheritance will never be extinguished. In Genesis 15:6 we see the basis of the faith that is referred to in Hebrews regarding Abraham. This verse states that Abraham trusted in God, not that he started to trust, but rather trusted. This indicates that Abraham submitted totally to God, placing total confidence and guidance in God. Genesis 15:7 continues with: ‘And He said to him, “I am the Lord that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to inherit it.” The Scriptures state that in that same day, Elohim made a covenant with Abraham, telling him again that to his seed He gave this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river of Euphrates, Genesis 15:18.
Chapter 17 begins with God announcing to Abram that He is El Shaddai which depicts God as God Sufficient, and to ‘walk before Me and be perfect’. This is where God changes his name from Abram to Abraham. This name change represents a status change in his life. Where Abraham /av hamon now means the father of a multitude, Abram simply meant av Aram – father of Aram, the native country. This change of status is a landmark step in ‘Go For Yourself’.
The sages teach that Abraham endure 10 tests. The tests can differ in accordance if you add in the Scroll of Yashur. Either way, he endure, he conquered and he overcame.
Baruch HaShem ~ Rabbi Jay
The days of Noah were filled with violence and corruption. Genesis 6:12 states: ‘And God saw the earth, and behold it had become corrupted, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth.’ This Torah portion begins by stating that Noach was a righteous man, Genesis 6:9. As I taught in last week's parsha, Hebrew names mean something and they promote what they represent. Noach's name comes from the Hebrew verb Nu’ach which means to rest/relief. It states in Genesis 5:29 why his father, Lamech chose the name: ‘And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”
Rest and relief in the midst of chaos, corruption, violence, confusion and rebellion. Not so unlike the eye of a hurricane. “The eye is so calm because the now strong surface winds that converge towards the center never reach it. The coriolis force deflects the wind slightly away from the center, causing the wind to rotate around the center of the hurricane (the eye wall), leaving the exact center, the eye calm.” (atmos.uiuc.edu)
The dove has long been the symbol of peace in the history of man, but the dove has great symbolism in the Bible too and is mentioned 46 times in Scripture. We first read about a dove in this Torah portion in Genesis 8:8 when Noach sends out the first dove. The dove returned as there was no dry ground. Noach waited seven more days and sent out the dove again the dove returned with an olive leaf, Genesis 8:9. A third time, Genesis 8:10-11, Noach sends out the dove and it did not return.
Doves were also used as sin offerings for those who couldn’t afford lambs, rams, goats as stated in Leviticus 5:7-11. Solomon also uses doves as metaphors in the Song of Solomon: Verse 1:15 “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves.” Verse 2:14 “My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” and verse 4:1“How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves” and in 5:2 he writes “Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one.”
In the book of Hosea we see that Ephraim is compared to a dove. Hosea 7:11 –‘Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless— now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria.’ Hosea 11:11- ‘They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares The Lord.’
Luke 3:22, Matthew 3:16, Mark and John 1:32 recount the immersion of Yeshua and the Holy Spirit with a dove. ‘When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22.
Yeshua in also commands us in Matthew 10:16 to be as innocent as doves in “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
Yeshua is the Living Word, the walking Torah. He is the way, the life and the truth. Therefore, the Torah gives us the peace and rest and relief that we so need in our lives. It is the calm in the midst of the storm. He is the place we go to. He is the entity that gives us the dove of peace, the dove of Shalom.
Baruch HaShem, Rabbi Jay Howard
בְּרֵאשִׁית Bereshith~ In The Beginning
The Golden Thread...
The golden thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation. If you learn from the Torah but negate the Brit Chadasha, the New Testament, you lack in completion. If you learn solely from the Brit Chadasha and negate the Torah you also lack in completion. The Scriptures must be taken, studied, learned and honored as a whole. Not as a half and a half, but a whole.
There is a study method, called PARDES, taking Scripture to learn from Scripture. God will never contradict Himself, and the New Testament never negates and dismisses the Torah.
Genesis 1:26-28 shows us the truth about Yeshua and God. They are One, they were, they are together, and they are the Word. Knowing this, let’s look at some of the golden threads from Genesis, the Beginning to Revelation, the End. Yeshua tells us in Revelation 1:8 ‘I am Alef and Tav, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.’
Genesis 1:15 – ‘Then God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.’ Revelation 22:5 – ‘There shall be no night there; they need no lamp nor light of sun, for the LORD God gives them light.’
Genesis 2:9 – ‘The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden.’ Revelation 22:1 – ‘And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street and on either side of the river, was the tree of life.’
There are similarities in Genesis and John: Genesis 1 –‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. And God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.’ John 1- ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.’
This Torah portion also clearly mentions the first Shabbat: Genesis 2:2-3 ‘And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.’ If you believe in the creation, if you understand that God created the universe, the consolations, the earth, the seas, the land, the animals and man in ‘Our Image…’ then the Sabbath should take NO less credibility. It is part of God’s creation. To erase the Sabbath, to say, teach or think that it was done away with is one of the great lies from the great liar.
Luke 6:1-5 ‘Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grain fields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” 5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
At the end of this parsha, Elohim refers to His spirit; ‘Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal and their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” This is verified in John 4:2 ‘God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” We learn through the Son, Yeshua that God is Spirit and we must worship Him in Spirit and Truth.
Berershith is transliterated as In The Beginning. This is the beginning of God, of where we live and who we are. When we take away from the Torah, we miss so much. We miss the Golden Thread that runs from Genesis from Revelation.
Baruch HaShem ~ Rabbi Jay Howard