Torah Portion: Vayelech (He Went) D’varim(Deut.) 31
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 14:1-10; Micah 7:18-20, Joel 2:15-27
The Torah portion we are studying tonight is always the portion read right before Yom Kippur. I want us to spend some time talking about Yom Kippur and how this appointed time might speak to us spiritually in our own lives.
This Shabbat is known as “Shabbat Shuvah.” This means the Sabbath of Repentance. The reason for this is found in the verses from Isaiah 55:6-56:8, especially the verses 55:6-7, “Seek the L-rd while He may be found.” This brings up an interesting question. Is there ever a time when He cannot be found? In Jeremiah 7:16 we read, “Therefore do not pray for this, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me, for I will not hear you.” This same idea appears three more times in Jeremiah 11:14, 14:11, and 15:1. The last being the strongest, “Even if Moshe and Samuel stood before Me.” From these we can see there are times when G-d will not hear.
Torah Portion: Ki Tavo (When You Come) D’varim(Deut.) 26-29
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 60:1-22
Tonight we read the Torah portion that contains some perplexing and difficult verses that talks about the curses that will befall the Jewish people in the future. I want us to speak of these later. It also talks of the “Bikurim Blessings,” which in English is the first fruit offering. I want to start with this subject and then end with a discussion of the curses listed in our portion.
Torah Portion: Ki Tetze (When You Go Out) D’varim(Deut.) 21-25
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10
Tonight we are at the midpoint of the Hebrew month of Elul. As we have discussed, this month begins the 40 days of self examination and coming before G-d, and if need be, before our fellowman to seek repentance. It is a time to set spiritual goals for the coming year. Of course these are things we should be doing each day, however, this time should focus us like a laser on things that need to be dealt with in our lives.
Torah Portion: Shoftim (Judges) D’varim(Deut.) 16:18-21:9
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Tonight we read a Torah portion filled with many different commandments and situations. I want us to take a few minutes and see what we might discern from several of these verses. I also want us to remember these scriptures form the foundation to what we read in the New Testament and should give us a deeper, more complete understanding of what we read there. My goal as a teacher is to always better equip each of us to grow deeper in our faith as G-d’s grafted in ones.
Torah Portion: Re’eh (See) D’varim(Deut.) 11-16
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 54:11-55:5
Tonight we read a Torah portion that has as its theme the creation of a central place of worship that G-d chooses. We see this in the warnings about idolatry, the holidays mentioned, the sacrifices to be brought and food to be eaten – all things that guard the people against idolatry. Israel was to be different, a people reflecting G-d, not themselves. An unseen G-d, who had no form, was to be the goal of everything they did. The emphasis was on rejecting the easy path and being about building a close relationship with Him.
Torah Portion: Ekev (Because) D’varim(Deut.) 7-11
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
This week we read a Torah portion so full of beautiful verses and spiritual insight it is hard to know where to begin. First, I have a question for you. What can we learn about Israel from this Torah portion? Look at chapter 8:7-9 and chapter 11:9-12. In these verses we see G-d cares for the Land. His eyes are always on it. He waters it with the rain of heaven. It flows with milk and honey and is blessed in every way. It is the inheritance of His people. It is part of the everlasting covenant between the nation of Israel and G-d. They may be scattered because of disobedience but G-d will and is gathering them home. The Haftorah this week, Isaiah 49:14-51:3, talks of this gathering and also our place and part to play in this event. This is one of the founding principles of Road to Zion, to be a part of this process and to help in any way we can.
Torah Portion: Va’etchanan D’varim(Deut.) 3-7
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 40:1-26
Tonight we read a Torah portion that starts with great sadness. Moshe recounts how he pleaded with G-d to allow him to enter the Land. He uses a word that conveys intense emotion – pleaded, beseeched and yet to no avail. G-d did not allow him to cross over to see that good land.
As I considered this verse this week I thought of how our lives each day are not something to be taken lightly. Our actions have consequences. Life is not a game and we get no do over. G-d is a G-d of mercy and compassion but also a G-d of justice. How we live has results that sometimes carry a heavy price. Our prayers for forgiveness for sure are heard but there may also be a price to be paid. King David is one example. G-d loved him and forgave him but there was still a result from his sin. Here in our portion we see the importance of our actions. Life is not a game but is for us to be perfected and bring us to maturity so that we can come to that place of living each moment to its spiritual fullness, that we can be G-d’s agents of showing a world His goodness, mercy and love.
Torah Portion: D’varim(Deut.) 1-3
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 1
Tonight we start the Book of D’Varim or “Words.” This is Moshe’s final address to the people before his exit from the world stage. It was delivered over a 37 day period, just before Israel began the settlement of the Land of Promise. Remember this is the same man who told G-d, back in Exodus 4:10 he was heavy of tongue and needed someone to speak for him. Here we see no need of another person to speak for Him. What brought about this change? It would seem to me, in the beginning, Moshe was not able to trust G-d completely. He saw himself as inadequate. He focused on that instead of what G-d wanted to do through him. At the end of his life he had changed. His focus was on G-d, on taking care of G-d’s chosen and speaking G-d’s truth to them while he still had the time to do it. His main concern was for their future. He did not do this in arrogance but in faith that what G-d was asking was his destiny and until his last day he could accomplish what G-d asked of him. This is an important lesson for all of us. When we know G-d has a walk for us we are to put our feet on the path, even though we may believe we are not capable of accomplishing it in our own strength or talents. Faith calls us to trust Him. In Deut. 2:31 we read where G-d spoke to Moshe about delivering the land of Sihon into the hands of the Israelites. It is interesting that the verse says the people are to begin to possess the land. G-d tells the people to take the first step, to begin the process, to trust Him to follow through. He calls us each day to trust Him. We are to have our faith in Him for the process. We are only to “begin” to possess what He has said. Our walk with G-d is a daily matter of trust for that day, believing and knowing that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. Philippians 1:6. Our life is built on that faith. Even though we do not know what tomorrow will bring our faith is in Him who does know and is always there to guide us and keep us. So, here in this verse we see G-d’s faithfulness to Israel even when they sin and fall. He is always there to pick them up and set them back on the path. He does the same for us. We may take a wrong turn or get off the path but if we come to Him, repent and ask, He is faithful to lead us on. We see this over and over in the life of the nation of Israel in this portion as Moshe goes back over their sins and also their victories. G-d’s love was always constant for His people and is for us.
Torah Portion: Mattot (Tribes) Masa’ei (Stages) (Numbers) B’Midbar 30-36
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:28
Tonight we finish the fourth book of the Torah B’Midbar or Numbers. This book finishes with the people standing on the threshold of entering the Land after forty years. They left Egypt as a band of slaves and here we see them about to enter the Promise of G-d as His nation, His people. There are many points we could cover tonight, however, I want us to look at two ideas that I feel are especially important for us to consider.
Torah Portion: Pinchas (Numbers) B’Midbar 25-30
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 18:46-19:21
This week we read a wide-ranging Torah portion. It begins with the end of the story of Pinchas from last week where he killed the Israelite prince Zimri and the Medianite princess Cosbi for their public sin in from of the Mishkan or Tabernacle. We also read about the last census of the people before they enter the Land and of the request made by the five daughters of an Israelite man who died with no son to inherit his property. The anointing of Joshua as Moshe’s successor is found in this portion along with a recap of G-d’s appointed times and the offering offered for each. What is the list of holidays mentioned here?