Terumah/ Offering Exodus 25:1-27:19The Gift of the Offering...
Motivation from the heart to act upon and to do a good deed, mitzvot, is an act of Torah. Last week we learned about helping a down trodding animal even for those that hate us or that we hate. It is a mitzvot from the heart.
This parsha begins with; 'Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.' Exodus 25:1-2.
God is asking for an offering to build the Tabernacle from the willing hearts of His people. This is the same willingness that He desires for us to observe His commandments. It is not begrudgingly, or an obligation for merit, it is a love offering to the God that so graciously forgives us and sustains us.
Why wouldn't anyone want to give to Him? Why wouldn't anyone want to observe with a joyful heart, His commandments? Ignorance, arrogance, pride; what could it be?
Proverbs 3:18 tells us that Torah is a tree of life to those that lay hold on her. This further tells us that we live when we are in the Torah. Yeshua is this in flesh as He wrote the Torah and then became God incarnate, and the living Word, John 1:1. When we negate the teachings of the Torah, do we in fact negate the true Son of God?
Notice in the very first two sentences of Terumah there are two types of offering. 'An offering' and 'My offering'. God tells Moshe to speak to the children of Israel to bring Him an offering. The second sentence follows up with a condition: for every willing heart that brings an offering, they shall take MY offering.' One is generic, an offering and the other is quite personal, as God states: 'My offering. It is God's offering - IF - we have a willing heart to bring to Him our offering. The two are connected.
This free will offering was to build the Tabernacle, the Mishkan where God would dwell with His people. This specific offering had to come willingly in order for God to give His offering. Today, we build the Tabernacle of God with our free will offering. 1 Corinthians 3:16 states that we are the living Tabernacle. We come to Him with willing hearts to serve Him, where upon we are given His offering, Yeshua, which comes to us with forgiveness.
1 Peter 2:5 '...you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.'
They are all connected; us, the Torah, the Tabernacle, the Word, Yeshua... Everything embodies the very God we serve. One can't be without the other, all though people have tried. Torah no Yeshua, vs. Jesus no Torah. These counterproductive ways of living only brings confusion, often hidden in lives, but confusion all the same.
One may observe a devoted Christian with a sustainable and comfortable life. One may observe a devoted Orthodox with a sustainable and comfortable life. One may observe a devoted atheist with a sustainable and comfortable life. One may observe a Torah observant believer with a life full of trials and tribulations. Questions arise: if they are doing what God wants, why is their life so hard?
1 Peter 5:10 - 'But the God of all grace who has called us to His eternal glory by Yeshua after we have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish and strengthen and settle you.'
James 1:12 - 'Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.'
1 Corinthians 10:13 - 'No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.'
1 Peter 1:6 - 'In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials...'
John 16:33 - ' These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
James 1:2-4 - My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.'
Even still, we must come to the LORD with our free will offering, our strength to be overcomers. We must continue to build the Tabernacle of God.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Mishpatim / Ordiances Exodus 21:1-24:18 The Continuation of the Ten Words...
The previous Torah portion, Yitro, gave us the 10 Commandments, which are really the 10 Utterances and are Divine. To follow, God in Mishpatim gives us correction, ordinances and the treatment of others.
Mishpatim is a continuance and contains details. Looking closely at the reasoning behind these statutes, as in 'why would God bother? I know what to do...' It seems to boil down to self. The situations that God references would not happen had we/they/us been more concerned with the honor of others rather than the honor of self.
Favor and esteem is granted to those that rise to the occasion to give honor and to serve others in the pureness of heart. Dis-favor is given to those who live to merely serve themselves and their agendas, often hidden - for a season.
In the true unselfish act of serving God, we are given a gift of identifying those that are self serving. It is not too far off to find oneself outside the camp when the choices are poor and ego based. By following the Words in all Torah portions, we are given the chance to break the chains of bondage that keeps us locked in our carnal ways.
Why the treatment of others so exact? For to be sure God is found in the inner depths of man, as He is in the universe and everything we see and touch and hear.
Such a good example of the treatment of others is Exodus 23:5 - 'If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.' NKJVersion.
The Chumash states it rhetorically: 'If you see the donkey of someone you hate, crouching under its burden, would you refrain from helping him? - you shall help repeatedly with him.'
Chabad quotes: 'If you see your enemy's donkey lying under its burden would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help along with him.'
One verse states a person who hates us, one version states a person we hate, and another simply classifies it as an enemy. Either way, the center is hate.
Maybe this is why God commands that we tend to the animal of someone we hate, or hates us, or an enemy. It forces us to humble ourselves, to forgive, to really search our own egos. It forces us to help. To hate, to be hated, either way it is wrong, it leaves us immobile and certainly not glorifying God in anyway. It certainly renders us spiritual immobile.
Why do people hate? Why do people spread lies and false witnesses? The evil inclination is extremely strong, and none are immune. It is only through God and His Word and our own humility that we might NOT succumb to our ego - our enemy - our evil inclination.
1 John 2:9-11 'Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.'
Ephesians 4:32 - 'Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.'
Proverbs 10:18 - 'Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.'
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Yitro / Jethro Exodus 18:1-20:23The Lightning on the Mountain...
The opening sentence of this parsha says that Yitro heard all that God had done for Moses and Israel. We read that sentence as we would read something of that nature today, 'he heard about the....' And we would today think he heard from tv, internet, phone, etc. But Moses heard from people who heard from people who saw what YHWH had done. Imagine the grandness of that. The power that people witnessed.
This parsha continues with Yitro returning to Moses with Zippora and their two sons and declaring how great YHWH is. Yitro blesses God and sacrifices burnt offerings and peace offerings to God, Exodus 18:10-12.
In Exodus 19:3-6 Moses ascends to God: 'And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."
God states: if you will obey My voice and keep My covenant...a special treasure...a kingdom of priests and a holy nation...' This is a preface to the 10 Words or 10 Commandments that God gives to His people. God is calling His people to Him as He would want them to be. There can only be a nation of priests and chosen people if they obey His words and His commands. There is not another option, either His people do or they don't. This choice is all in the small word 'if'. If we do...
In Exodus 19:16 after three days, God descends upon the mountain with thunder and lightning: 'Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.'
Exodus 20 begins with: 'And God spoke these words saying...' This begins the instructions of the 10 Commandments.
Putting all of this Torah portion in context; Yitro hearing the greatness that God had done, God telling His people to obey His voice, that all the earth is His, God descending upon the mountain with thunder, lightning, fire, cloud, smoke, the quaking of the mountain and the blast of the shofar; who would or should take His Ten Words lightly?
God seems to set the stage of the greatness that He embodies and the greatness of His mighty works and words. There is no memo or email or text. No, it is grandness all around. It includes preparation for three days. It's thunder and lightning. It's fire and smoke as from a kiln. It's the loud blast of the shofar blown by God Himself that made the people shudder. Imagine that sound!
This should convey a very strong message to everyone that the 10 Commandments, which include the Sabbath are the very core of God.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
Beshalach ~ Grace Upon Grace...
This Torah portion shows the universal flaw in mankind: how easy we praise God with grandness when He serves us, yet how quickly we become complaining, ungrateful children when we find ourselves once again in need.
Beshalach shows the character of Elohim, full of grace and mercy and abundant in loving kindness - Psalms 145:8. ' The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.'
In the very beginning of this parsha, God's mercy abounds - ' It came to pass whenPharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, for it was near, because God said, "Lest the people reconsider when they see war and return to Egypt." So God led the people around the way of the desert to the Red Sea, and the children of Israel were armed when they went up out of Egypt.' Exodus 13:17-18.
By God's mercy and grace, the Hebrew slaves were freed from physical bondage in Egypt-redeemed by the mighty arm of God. Now they had to learn to live as a redeemed people. G od had removed from them the yoke of slavery, the bondage of Pharaoh, and of Egypt. Yet they weren't ready to wear the yoke of freedom-the yoke of holiness-the yoke of their Redeemer. YHWH led them into the wilderness-not to wander-but to learn of Him. Israel had to relearn as Deuteronomy 1:30-33 states:
'The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.' 32 Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, 33 who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.'
Although God redeemed Israel out of Egypt, they didn't know how to be a redeemed people.
During this exodus, Moses carried the bones of Joseph, fulfilling the request of Joseph to be buried with his fathers in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. The Hebrew word for bones is 'etsem' עצם (Strongs 6106) or etsmot עצמות which also means essence, substance, and strength. In many ways Moses carried the strength of Joseph. What a metaphor for righteousness before the people as Joseph was an overcomer in the place of great temptation and adversity, faithful and forgiving in the face of betrayal, humble, kind, and righteous as he gained power.
These are all lessons for us today. For when God brings us into a place of wilderness, it is for our learning and it is through His grace that He does so. He is trying to remove us from our own bondage and allowing us to understand that we were/are in bondage and that the yoke of our own selves is suffocating us. To truly be redeemed we have to be redeemed from the bondage of self. Thus we are released into His infinite love and mercy and grace and to follow in His ways is the redemptive plan of salvation that He has for us. It is when we fully realize this and stop complaining about our offenses and teshuva to Him - totally - that the yoke of bondage will be released.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
BO /COME Exodus 10:1-13:16
This Torah portion begins with: Exodus 10:1-2 - Now the Lord said to Moses, "Come/Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son's son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord."
Bo בֹּ֖א is translated in NKJVersion as 'go', but it is known as 'Come' in Hebrew. Why the difference? It is taught that God did not tell Moses to "go to Pharaoh" but to "come to Pharaoh," meaning "come with Me to Pharaoh." This was because as this Torah portion begins with the eighth plague, God set out to break Pharaoh himself, to destroy his power from its core.
As I taught last week, God was destroying the very essence of evil of the Egyptians - their gods. Each plague represented gods that they worshiped and each plague revealed Gods infinite power over evil. Therefore, the idea behind the words "come to Pharaoh" is the confrontation with Pharaoh's character. It is here that he, and all the evil he represents, can be and is broken. Breaking Pharaoh's power was the important condition for the Exodus; for it should the strength and power of God Himself. Egypt, with all its wealth and imposing structures, and gods was the very symbol of its religion, and Pharaoh. The Exodus was the release from this oppressive and suffocating way of life in order for God to free His people to worship Him His way. In order to be truly free, the bondage had to be broken; Pharaoh, and all that he represented had to be destroyed, broken in the very dark place of his realm of power.
This was the ultimate of redemption, redeeming His people from the oppressive ways of man. Today, don't we create our own bondage? Don't we create our own Egypt? If it is our choice and therefore our consequences, as in Deuteronomy 25-29 plainly states, then aren't we the creators of our bondage and suppression?
2 Timothy 2:26 - 'and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.'
John 8:34 - 'Yeshua answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.'
2 Peter 2:18-19 - 'For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.'
Acts 8:23 - 'For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.'
Aren't we 100% of the time our own problem? We create our own bondage, our own denial and rebellion. Galatians 5:13-14 - 'You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Psalm 119:45 - I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.'
The Exodus is all about freedom and God's grace. He freed the Israelites to worship Him as He frees us to worship Him. We just have to follow Him.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
VA'ERA / AND I APPEARED EXODUS 6:2-9:35
A Redemptive Plan~
In this Torah portion, Exodus 6:2-9:35 God reveals Himself to Moses and states His plan of redemption for the captives. He declares that it will be by His hand that they are set free and that it was He who established the covenant.
'Then the Lord said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with My mighty hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land." And God spoke to Moses and said to him: "I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore say to the children of Israel: 'I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.' Exodus 6:1-8.
He will bring us out of bondage- He brought us out of bondage. He will free us- He freed us. He will redeem us - we are redeemed. He will take us as a people for Him and we are His people. Then why do we still feel as if we are in bondage? Is it finances? Is it our health or lack of? Is it our poor relationships? Did He not free us? Was it just for then?
It is nothing that surrounds us that keeps us frozen, locked. It is the 'I' in our lives. The 'I' and the 'ego' that keeps us locked in slavery in states of confusion and wants and I should's, pride and arrogance, bitterroot and un-forgiveness.
The point that we have to understand is why we were redeemed. For us? For congregations? For the world? No, He redeemed us for Him.
2 Samuel 7:23 - 'And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, from nations and their gods?'
Isaiah 43:1 - 'But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!'
Psalm 111:9 - 'He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.'
When we truly realize that it was for Him that He redeemed us, His people, then humility overflows our very ego. We realize how great He is and how much He loves us and how great is His Torah and Name/Walk.
Deuteronomy 5:15 brings meaning to the greatness of Torah - 'You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.'
Remembering and understanding is part of His redemptive plan. When we forget, we forget His Word, His Walk, and why He even brings us redemption. It is when we forget that we can slip into arrogance of 'this life is for me' when in all actuality - it is for Him and His glory!
Isaiah 46:9 - 'Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me.'
Isn't His plan of redemption His Torah? His Will and Words?'
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay
SHEMOT / NAMES Exodus 1:1-6:1
I AM WHO I AM AND THE COVENANTS OF GOD~
In Exodus 3:14 God answers Moses with one of the most famous verses in the Torah. This simple answer defines Elohim as the 'being', the One that is "The incomprehensible essence". In Jewish mindset, He is the creator of the universe but not bound by the universe. That is a thought that is hard for us to totally if at all comprehend.
As God comes to Moses, He announces Himself as "The God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" Exodus 3:6. God identifies Himself as the covenant God, the One who has allowed and made the covenant relationship with His people. The first thing that God wants Moses to know is that He is a God who is going to deliver His people from Egypt, Exodus 3:8 and is with His people, Exodus 3:12, and who has redeemed them for the purpose of worshiping Him alone Exodus 3:12. God is accomplishing His covenant promise to Israel through Moses.
Exodus 2:11-14- 'But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
It was vital for Moses to understand that this was the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That He was the covenant God. This was important because it was and is through these covenants that God establishes who He is, and who are His people.
Deuteronomy 7:9 -'Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments...'
1 Chronicles 16:5- 'Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations...'
To keep His commandments and to remember His commandments is a vital component of who we are as a people and who He is as The God. If we start to negate and change or lessen or even void any of the commandments or covenants, we begin to make our own way, are own path, statutes and decrees. We need to look at the ways of God the way Abraham did - we get to! God has given us the ability to choose, we can choose our way or His way.
The seven Covenants of God:
The covenant in Eden - Genesis 1:26-28
The covenant with Adam - Genesis 3:14-16
The covenant with Noah - Genesis 9:8-11
The covenant with Abraham - Genesis 12:1-3
The covenant with Moses - Exodus 19:5-8
The covenant with David - 2 Samuel 7:8-16
The renewed covenant - Hebrew 8:10-12
It is through these covenants that God establishes His people and that we establish that He is our God. If one is not keeping covenant with Elohim, then how does that person establish that he is of God, walking in God's ways and honoring the Creator? He can't. He/she has broken covenant.
A simple analogy would be an HOA. When a person buys a property in an area that has HOA's, they must adhere to the covenants, or they have broken them and will be fined or extreme - asked to leave. When you live in a place with covenants, you abide by them. Why should it be any different between God's people and Him?
Because He has allowed us the choice, which gives people the attitude that they can do as they please. Which they can, but there are consequences and there is a much better way - God's.
Shabbat Shalom ~ Rabbi Jay