Haftorah Reading: Judges 13:2-25
This afternoon we study a very important Torah portion. At first glance Naso seems to be a portion of disconnected subjects. We read the account of the Levitical families of Gershon and Merari and their tasks to carry part of the Mishkan when the Israelites journeyed from place to place. We read of the sota or the wife whose husband became jealous and accused her of being unfaithful. We also read of the laws of the Nazarite. Next is the priestly blessing. This prayer has been used by faiths other than Judaism. It is the oldest prayer in the world still being used today. This prayer is followed by a listing of the gifts brought by the princes of each tribe at the dedication of the Mishkan.
Torah Portion: Vayetze(History) B’resheet/Genesis 28:10-32:3
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 11:7-13:5
Today we look at a Torah portion that covers a long span of the life of Jacob. It begins when he is leaving the land of Israel and continues until twenty years later when he is returning home from Haran. He left with only the clothes on his back and returned a wealthy man with many cattle, sheep,11 sons and one daughter. Our Torah portion reveals many details of the 20 years he was in exile. He left Israel after a prophetic dream in which G-d promised to protect him and bring him back home to the land. (Genesis 28:13)
Torah Portion: Re’eh (See) D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-16:17
Haftorah Reading Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:11-55:5
Tonight, at sundown the Hebrew month of Elul begins. This starts a forty-day period of concentrated introspection and repentance that will end on Yom Kippur. Of course, repentance is something we should be involved in on a daily basis. However, this does remind us of the importance of not allowing unconfessed sins to fade from our minds but instead to deal with them quickly.
Torah Portion Re’eh (See) D’Varim (Deut.) 11:26-16:17
Haftorah Reading: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:11-55:5
Tonight we read the Torah portion Re’eh or “See.” The verse, D’Varim/Deut. 11:26, calls us to pay attention because what follows is very important. Based on our discussion last week on the verb Shema or hear, we can understand this verse in the same way. The verse is calling our attention to what follows, to truly comprehend the meaning of these words.
Torah Portion: Vayechi (And He Lived) B’resheet (Genesis) 47-50
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 2:1-12
This Torah portion begins with a word that should be familiar to us all. It is “chai” or live/life. When we see this word in scripture it is usually followed by the death of the person mentioned. Here in our portion we see that play out. The point of the word then is not to dwell on the death of a person but rather to look at his life. Here in our portion we see this in Jacob’s life as he talked to Joseph and reviewed his life where G-d had appeared to him and his connection to the Land of Israel. In a way, telling Joseph and his sons that they too were part of that lineage, not Egyptian, but Hebrews with roots in the mountains of Israel. When we look at the names Joseph gave his sons we can see that this may have been a struggle for him earlier. In Genesis 41:51-52 we read where he named his first son Manasseh, meaning, “It is because G-d has made one forget all my troubles and my father’s household.” When we read these words we can read the hurt in the words and him looking forward to his new life. However in verse 52 we read the name of the second son Ephraim, meaning, “G-d has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” So in this name we can see that now Joseph sees Egypt as the land of affliction. What happened between the births of these two sons? Maybe Joseph remembered or began to realize that he was truly a stranger in a strange land and it would never be his home. This also speaks volumes to us. We must not become comfortable in the land of our affliction. We as G-d’s people have more to live for than the physical things of life. We are in the world but not of the world. John 17:14-16. We are to live life but life is so much more than things. Here in our portion today we see Jacob lay that out to his sons and also to his grandsons. It should also be clear to our spiritual mind as well. What will we leave behind as our legacy when we die? What will we pass on to our children, friends, even strangers we meet along the path of life?
Torah Portion: Vayishlach (He Sent) B’Resheet (Gen.) 32-36
HafTorah: Hosea 11:7-12:12
This week we read of the return of Jacob to the Land, his first meeting with his brother Esau in over twenty years and the death of their father Isaac and his burial along side Abraham. We also read of his constant struggles. At every stage he encounters things that test his resolve to go on in his life. There are several points that I would like to cover in his life which I think have a special message to each of us in our own walk with the Father.
Torah Portion: Naso(Take) (Numbers) B’Midbar 4-7
Haftorah Reading: Judges 13:2-25
This Torah portion is the largest section we read during the year totaling 176 verses. In it we read of the census taken of the Levites, the woman suspected of being unfaithful to her husband, the Nazirite Vow, the priestly blessing and the confession of sin.
I emailed a paper to all of you here tonight written by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks entitled, “The Blessing of Love.” This article deals with the priestly blessing. I emailed the article to you to give you time to think about how it might apply spiritually to us in our lives today. I want us to take a few minutes to talk about this paper. The priestly blessing is found in Numbers 6:24-26. This is the blessing said by father’s over their children at the beginning of the Sabbath each week and one of the oldest prayers in scripture. In each line the second word used is the intimate holy name of G-d. In the first part of each line we read of action by G-d, bless, make His Face shine, and turn His face toward. The second part of each verse speaks of the effect of that action, giving us protection, grace and peace. These effects also go deeper as we progress.
Torah Portion: Vayetze (And He Went Out) (B’resheet) Genesis 28-32
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 12:13-14:10
This Torah section is filled with spiritual lessons for us form beginning to end. From these verses we can learn much from Ya’acov and his approach to his relationship with the Father. I would like to begin at the beginning of this section where we see Ya’acov leaving Israel and going to Haran. He was leaving the place where scripture says, “G-d’s eyes are on it from the beginning of the day until its end”, and travel to a place which had no thought of G-d, a place of deception and trickery. He came to a certain place near what would later become Jerusalem and laid down to sleep, putting a rock down for his head.
Torah Portion: Balak (Numbers) 22:2-25:9
HafTorah: Micah 5:6-6:8
Tonight we study one of the most perplexing scriptures of the year. We read of a man Bilam, a seer who is hired to curse Israel. In the verses we read where he asks G-d about this job that has been offered to him, whether he is free to do this or not. In the course of a few verses we read where first G-d says don’t go, later He says go. Then when he does go G-d is very angry with him. What are we to make of this?
Torah Portion: Vayechi (And He Lived) Genesis 47:28-50:26
HafTorah: I Kings 2:1-12
Tonight we look at the remaining verses of Genesis. The Torah reading is titled, “And He lived.” However the Parasha covers mainly the preparation for death of both Joseph and Jacob. We see both men give instructions about what to do with their bodies when they die. Jacob (Yaakov) uses an interesting phrase here in Genesis 49:33, where the Torah reads, “he gathered up his feet and was gathered to his people.” I think the intention here is to show that even when Yaakov is no longer physically alive and he has passed over to be with his ancestors, his influence lives on. He never lost faith in the promises of G-d. In Hebrews 11 we see him mentioned in the blessing of his sons and in not ceasing to exist, but rather moving on to the promise of G-d.