DEVARIM / DEUTERONOMY 2018
Ha'azinu / Give Ear
Heaven and Earth...
This Torah portion is near the ending of Deuteronomy and is read this Shabbat before Sukkot. It is a powerful plea from the heart as Moshe calls upon heaven and earth and implores the children of God to keep in the Torah. This is the song that God commanded him to write in the prior parsha in Deuteronomy 31:19. God speaks that the Torah is the source of life and it is likened to rain and dew. Just as the grass needs the rain and the dew so do we need the words of Torah as God's words nurtures and sustain us. Elohim is also declared as The Rock and a God of truth and justice.
"Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2 Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.
3 For I proclaim the name of the Lord:
Ascribe greatness to our God.
4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.'
Heaven and Earth:
In the prior parsha Deuteronomy 31:28 ended with: 'Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them.' We see this earlier in Deuteronomy 4:26 'I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed.' Heaven and earth are witnesses of God that no man can produce, they are the very creation of God. Isaiah 36:16 'O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth You have made heaven and earth.' Psalm 146:5-6 'How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever.'
Teachings as rain:
Isaiah 55:10-12 'For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.'
God is the Rock:
Psalms 78:35 'And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemed.' 2 Samuel 23:3 '"The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me, 'He who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God.' Isaiah 26:4 'Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.' Psalms 94:22 'But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.'
A God of Truth:
Isaiah 65:16 'Because he who is blessed in the earth Will be blessed by the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Will swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My sight.' John 8:26 'I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.' John 17:17 'Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.'
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Vayelech / And He Went
God goes before us...
Deuteronomy 32:1-3 -'The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them.'
Deuteronomy 31:6 -'Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.'
Deuteronomy 31:23 - 'Then He inaugurated Joshua the son of Nun, and said, "Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them, and I will be with you.'
God speaks to His children that He will be with them, that He crosses before them, that He will not forget them. He is a loving and merciful God, a God of justice and kindness. Yet, how interesting that the end of this parsha, Moses foretells that the Hebrew children will turn from the ways of God. Deuteronomy 31:27-29 '... for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord, then how much more after my death? 28 Gather to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.'
This Yom Kippur is the time to teshuva, to return, to repent and to absolutely seek the wisdom and the ways of Elohim. This is a time to consider our ways, all of our ways, and make teshuva to God.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Nitzavim / You Are Standing
Standing on the Truth...
What exactly do we stand for? What do we stand on? What did Yeshua stand for? John 17:16-17 'They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth., 2 John 9 'Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Yeshua does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.'
He stood for the truth. He was the truth and He boldly declared it. The prophets declared God's word as truth as it is stated in the Torah. Psalm 119:160 states: 'The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.' Psalm 19:9 'The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.' 2 Corinthians 6:7 '...in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left...'
Nitzavim opens with ' Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do. 10 All of you stand today before the Lord your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones and your wives-also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water- 12 that you may enter into covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today, 13 that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'
Nitzavim contains some of the most fundamental principles of the Word of Elohim which is the very foundation of our faith. God gives us the principles and instructions of returning to Him, making a stand for Him, His word of truth and standing on the choice of Life. He also declares that it is in our 'heart, that we may do it.' That is the principle that we stand on.
Nitzavim declares that: 'If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 5 Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.'
This is the foundation of those returning to Him and to the entire word of God. It is us that have been scattered and it is us that are returning to the Torah, and it should be us therefore, to stand on that revelation - every word of it.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 'I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.'
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Ki Tavo / When You Enter In
Mercy with Order...
Ki Tavo begins with Moshe instructing the people of God to bring first ripened fruits-bikkurim- as a sign of gratitude when they enter into the land that God is gave them as an inheritance. This offering refers to the seven species of God and the land. Shivat ha-minim.
Ki Tavo also includes the blessings for the obedience to God and the curses when we stray from Him. This is laid out as a choice, once again for us. God is specific when He declares 'Choose Life.' But again, it is a choice, and we have the option to declare another way that may seem right in our eyes. Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 speaks of this: 'There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.'
In Deuteronomy 26:5-10 the account is repeated of Abraham traveling and becoming great in numbers bringing on the slavery and bondage from the Egyptians. These verses also tell of the great mercy that God showed upon His people. '7 Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which You, O Lord, have given me.'
Deuteronomy 28:58-59 clearly shows us the reason to obey. "If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, 59 then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues-great and prolonged plagues-and serious and prolonged sicknesses.' Notice that it is for His glory that we obey, not for our self-righteousnss. That is His mercy.
Mercy with order. God has never-ending mercy for us and He also has the perfect order. This is shown in Ki Tavo as God brings His people into the land with His outstretched arm, clarifying the blessings and curses and giving us an opportunity to show our gratitude in the gifts that we bring to Him which in turn reminds us to see, hear and open our heart.
Deuteronomy 29:1-3 'And Moses called all of Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the Lord did before your very eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to all his land; 2 the great trials which your very eyes beheld and those great signs and wonders. 3 Yet until this day, the Lord has not given you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.'
This is repeated in Isaiah 6:10, Jeremiah 5:21, Ezekiel 12:2, and by Yeshua is Matthew 13:15:'For the hearts of this people have grown dull.Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.'
Mercy with order. May we open our eyes, listen to His voice and circumcise our hearts.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Ki Teitzei / When You Go Out
Each year, individual Torah portions enlighten us to yet another facet of the teachings of Elohim. This Torah portion, Ki'Teitzei contains sixty-four of the 613 Torah instructions. It is rich in right rulings, ways of life and the will of Abba.
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 states: 'If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.' In Mark 15:40-46 we have the exact cross reference of the Torah when Joseph requests and is granted to remove Yeshua from the tree. It states that Pilate 'was amazed that He was already dead.' Yeshua took the sins of the world upon Himself and His body did not remain overnight on the tree, but He was buried that day. Yeshua is the epitome of the land and He is our inheritance.
Ki Teitzei contains the laws of the beautiful captive, a false accusation, divorce, remarry, proper treatment of one in debt, the mother bird and her eggs, and cross breeding animals and hybrid plants. And in Deuteronomy 22:8 there are the instructions of the safety wall: 'When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.'
Often, we might wonder, what is the point of some of these instructions? They are there to shows us with clarity God's character and will. It is His Doctrine and it is His teaching.
In everyday life we are governed by some sort of doctrine. Whether in our homes, our place of business, the laws of the land. Every denomination has it's own doctrine, which are set in place by the person or persons who began that religion. It is their set of beliefs that began that religion and their set of doctrines. Doctrine can be the context of what we believe. To simply believe can take us into a life of our own doctrine, for it is stated that even HaSatan believes. One's belief will cause habits and habits play a major role in our future.
The significant and extremely crucial difference is- is that the right rulings found within the Torah and the entire Scriptures is the Doctrine of God. There is therefore doctrine and then there is sound doctrine. And what is the sum of His character and doctrine? It is kindness, which is exemplified in Ki Teitzei.
Nehemiah 9:17 'They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt but You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them.'
Psalm 36:7 'How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.'
Pslam 63:3 'Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You.'
Ephesians 2:7 'So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Yeshua HaMashiach.'
Isaiah 54:8 'In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you," Says the LORD your Redeemer.'
In turn, we show gratefulness for His mercy and kindness by being obedient out of love to His Word and His Doctrine.
Ki Teiteiz ends with God instructing His children to not forget to cancel out a memory: Deuteronomy 25:19 'Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.' Traditionally, this was understood, in a morally complicated way, to mean that at that time the Israelites were given a command to kill all Amalekites: men, women, and children. Today we blot out the transgressions and we now understand today that Amalek is not as a nation or ethnicity, but rather as a mindset or ideology. The Amalekites attacked the weak and defenseless which is a mindset of those now preying on God's people to incite divisiveness, strife and spread malicious gossip. Those that behave as such, do not fear God.
'Remember what Amalek did to you as you were leaving Egypt. He happened upon you, and struck the weakest people trailing behind, when you were exhausted. And he did not fear God. Deuteronomy 25:17-18.
'God said to Moses: Write this remembrance in the book... that I will surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Exodus 17:14.
Isaiah 45:5 'I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.'
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Shoftim / Judges
Shoftim / Judges is so named as to the first opening verses: Deuteronomy 16:18-22 'You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.21 You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God. 22 You shall not set up a sacred pillar, which the Lord your God hates.'
This parshat also contains forbidden forms of worship, laws against divination and magic, property boundaries, laws concerning cities of refuge and witnesses. Shoftim contains rules of warfare and the privileges of Priests and Levites. .
Shoftim also contains an analogy that is often missed, until you cross reference it to the prophets and the Brit Chadasha. Deuteronomy 20:19 eludes man to a tree: 'When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?' Other versions have added the words /is/ and /food/ and an /s/ after man. Example: "When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man's food.'
A man compared to a tree.
Jeremiah 17:8 'For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.'
Psalm 1:3 'He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.'
Psalm 52:8 'But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.'
Psalm 92:12 'The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.'
Proverbs 11:30 'The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.'
The Torah is also likened to the tree of life: Proverbs 3:18 'She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast.'
Yeshua is the tree of life: Revelation 22:14 'Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.'
The fruit of the tree is the righteousness of Elohim: Proverbs 11:30 'The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.'
Yeshua explains the tree of good fruit and bad fruit in Matthew 7:17-19 'So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.'
A tree's primary components are; the roots, which anchor it to the ground and supply it with water and other nutrients; the trunk, branches and leaves that comprise its body; and the fruit, which is harvested.
In Revelation 22:16-22 Yeshua tells us that He is the root: 'I, Yeshua have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.'
We are the branches as stated in John 15:5 and we are to bear fruit. John 1:8, and Luke 13:7-9 'Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' 8 But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'
Yeshua, who is the walking Torah, The Living God, is the root. If we have another root, another god, another set of teachings or a lack of His instructions then our root will rot. The tree is only as good as the root, which is only as good as the water it receives - Yeshua is the root and the Living Water.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Re'eh / To See
Seeing and Understanding...
Re'eh begins with: 'Behold (See) , I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.'
In the prior Torah portion, Eikev, God states in Deuteronomy 11:1: 'Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.' The verses through Deuteronomy 11:7 continue with God telling the Israelites that He does not speak to their children who did not witness the great Exodus, the miracles, the destruction of Dathan and Abiram - but rather He speaks to them - for they have seen...
To see the choices, to see the mountains, to see the blessings and the curses and to comprehend. To see is one thing, but to understand is another. God is telling His people to see with their whole hearts and minds to behold the outcome as they cross over - (Ivri) - the Jordan. Deuteronomy 11:29-32 'Now it shall be, when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30 Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? 31 For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it. 32 And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.'
The foundation is set before us: to see the blessings and the curses, to cross over and become a Hebrew as Abraham did, and to obey God's Word. Re'eh continues with the instructions of the prescribed place of worship, making it clear that His people will obey Him and not continue as they were: Deuteronomy 12:8-11 'You shall not at all do as we are doing here today- every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes- 9 for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, 11 then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you...' In Deuteronomy 12:15-16 God allows the unclean person as well as the clean person to eat of the meat, only to not eat the blood - for that is the flow of life. Deuteronomy 12:23 states: 'Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat.'
Re'eh continues with the admonition to beware of false prophets making it very clear about the sanctity of His Word. Deuteronomy 12:32 -'Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.' If anything is added to or taken from, that would conclude that the person doing so would be a false witness/prophet/teacher in the eyes of Elohim. The situation, consequence and punishment of someone that leads another astray is continued in chapter 13 and God ends this with ' because you have listened to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord your God.' Again - choose life!
Re'eh continues with the instructions of kashrut, tithing, charity and ends with the importance of the three pilgrimage moadim. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 'Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.'
We see and obey so many things in our everyday lives and these small but necessary things can save our lives, as in stopping at a red light. How much greater would our lives be if we heeded the instructions of God and actually took time to see what was set before us.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Eikev / Because
The Promise He Gives Us...
The Torah portion prior to this, Va'etchanan ended with: 'Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.' In Eikev it begins with a piece of advise, encouragement and actually a subtle condition: 'Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. 13 And He will love you and bless you and multiply you...
The words are 'because you listen...' The very art of listening is an act that is lacking in our culture today. Shema, occurs over 90 times in Devarim. Shema means to hear, to listen, to pay attention, to understand, to internalize and to respond. It is the closest biblical Hebrew word to mean "obey." It is central to the two parts that form the first two paragraphs of the Shema, which was in last week's parsha, and repeats in Eikev in Deuteronomy 11:13-21. The next parsha, Re'eh also continues the importance of listening: 'See /re'eh/ I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse - the blessing if you listen /tishme'u/ to the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you do not listen /lo tishme'u/ to the commands of the Lord your God.' This current parsha also contains more rebuking from Moshe to the Israelites, as he reminds them of their rebellion, the Golden Calf, the ordeal of Korach and the sin of the spies. Deuteronomy 8:3 is the verse that Yeshua refers to during the tempting of Ha Satan. 'So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.'
Matthew 4:2-4 (Yeshua)
'And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "
Notice these verses involve hunger, not just being hungry, but true hunger, and the word humbled. We must be humbled and we must listen and hear to obey God's Word as we hunger for His Word.
This parsha also gives the detailed account of the land flowing with milk and honey and the seven species. God begins the promise with His condition: 'Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing;'
He ends the promise with His condition: 'Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today...'
By the simple fact that Yeshua quotes Devarim in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament), He is obviously bringing us back to Deuteronomy, back to the Torah. He was/is God in the flesh, He was/is sovereign. He could have said anything to the tempter, or just annihilated him. But He chose to bring us to Devarim - a book filled with hear, listen, do, remember, don't forget, walk in His Ways, keep the covenant... How can Devarim be just for a certain collective religion? How can Devarim be out dated? It isn't. It is alive and should be in our lives today and if it is not, then we are surely lacking.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Va'etchanan / And I Pleaded Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
Isaiah 40:1-26 Mark 23:31-39
Seek and Teshuva...
There are some very sobering concepts in this parshat. In Deuteronomy 4:7-8 Moses brings such clarity to the greatness and the sovereignty of the God of Israel: 'For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? 8 And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?'
This is a twofold declaration; what a great God, and therefore what a great nation. It is not a great nation and then a great God- it is a great nation (Israel and the people of God) because of a great God. It is also a great nation because of the Torah that is set before it. This is a concept that has been lost or even abandoned by most Christians as they teach to not be under the 'law'. However, it is the Torah from Elohim that establishes the great nation, (His people). Certainly not the lack of it.
The very next set of verses implores God's people to remember - 'Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, 10 especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.' Deuteronomy 4:9-10. In these verses Moses is reiterating to us that God's word is important enough to remember, and to teach our children and grandchildren - in order to sustain us.
What and where would we be without the very Word of God? We would be lost and in exile, which is what Moses predicted in Deuteronomy 4:27-29 - 'And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. 28 And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.'
However, from the pits of serving other gods, we begin to seek The God and return. The word return in Hebrew is teshua and literally means to return and is used to imply repentance. This word signals a return to the original state, that being with God and under God. We cannot return to something if we have never been there. This implies that we were never meant to leave His Torah. Those that leave are now wanderers in the wilderness - seeking something. They probably don't even know what they are seeking - but the chaos will bring them back to God and His Ways - His Torah. If they humble themselves and seek God!
The 10 Words are repeated in chapter five and the greatest commandment is listed in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.'
This is called the shema which means to listen. שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל SHEMA ISRAEL.
We are commanded to hear/listen to God. His voice, His words are not just empty sayings or poems that we print out. They are instructions, they are advice, they are words of peace, of yirah, of joy and of loving kindness. They are words of wisdom, for without which we are lost, seeking the shalom that comes from the blessings of walking in His Torah.
Deuteronomy 4:1 'Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live...'
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Devarim / Words
Looking Back ~ Moving Forward ...
This Sabbath we will begin the fifth and final book of the Torah, Devarim or Words. The sages refer to this book as Mishneh Torah - the repeated teaching. It is interesting that Deuteronomy is a Greek word that means"second law". For centuries, commentators have regarded the book of Deuteronomy as different from the other books of Torah in that it is Moses' repetition of the law. No other book of Torah begins by clearly stating, "These are the words that Moses addressed to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan. However, this book is merely not just a review for there are more than seventy completely new commands.
In the ending parsha of B'midbar, Moses' leadership is essentially coming to an end. He had appointed his successor, Joshua, and it would be he, not Moses, who would lead the people across the Jordan into the promised land. Moses was complete, for he had achieved what God had planned for his life. Moses now gives the authority to Joshua as he, for the last time repeats the wisdom and miracles of God.
This was a new generation that Moses tells the story of the Exodus and the journeys to. This new generation knew nothing of slavery, only the journeys of the wilderness and they were not circumcised, they were as uncut stones. God would have them circumcised right before entering the land. Joshua 5:2-5 ' At that time the Lord said to Joshua, "Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time." 3 So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins (Gilbeath Haaraloth). 4 And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised.' In Deuteronomy 10:16 we see the correlation of the circumcision of the heart: 'Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked (rebellious) no longer.'
At the end of this parshat, Moshe tells this new generation about Joshua, reminding them too, of the many victories, '"And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, 'Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so will the Lord do to all the kingdoms through which you pass. 22 You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.' This was a huge opportunity for the children of God to look back as they moved forward. We, too, as we walk in the light of Elohim, have the opportunity to look back at all the miracles that God has worked in our lives, and at the times that we were rebellious towards Him and His Word. We have the opportunity to begin again as we move forward in His Word.
Look Back~ 1 Chronicles 15:16 'Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations...' Psalm 111:5 'He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever.' Joshua 1:3 'Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.' Psalm 119:55 'O LORD, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law.' Jeremiah 51:50 'You who have escaped the sword, Depart! Do not stay! Remember the LORD from afar, and let Jerusalem come to your mind.' Isaiah 46:9 'Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.'
Moving forward and looking back: John 14:26 'But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you'.
Move Forward~ Acts 17:28 '...for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' John 16:33 'These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.' Romans 6:11 'Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Yeshua HaMashiach.' Ephesians 4:22-24 'That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.'
Moving forward with God in our life, means submitting to His every word and will. Make His will your will and remember it is not a present boast but we strive for that perfection.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay