Today is the first day of the seven day holiday of Sukkot. It marks the end of the biblical holidays of the year. It is also the last of the three festival holidays that required Jews to go to Jerusalem to offer their offerings and worship G-d. Sukkot is mentioned in John 7. There it describes Yeshua going up to Jerusalem and teaching. The biblical cycle of holidays begins with Passover, followed by Shavuot and ending with sukkot.
Torah Portion Bo (Come) Sh’mot (Exodus) 10-13
Haftorah Reading Jeremiah 46:13-28
Tonight we read of the end of the plagues and also the instructions for Pesach (Passover) with special emphasis on the process of getting a male lamb without blemish, killing it, putting the blood on the door post of each home and eating it.
Torah Portion: Nitzavim (Standing) Vayelekh (And He Went) D’varim (Deut) 29:9-31:30
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 61:10-63:9, Hosea 14:1-10, Micah 7:18-20, Joel 2:15-27
This week we read a double portion leading up to Rosh Hashanah. These two Torah portions come at the end of Moshe’s life. In them he presents many challenges and goals for his people and for us.
At the beginning of our reading Moshe speaks to the people about entering into the covenant with G-d. He makes a point that this covenant is to include not just the leaders or the elite of the tribes but is for everyone, the wives, the children and even the strangers in the camp. The word used here in Hebrew for stranger is, “ger.” This word indicates someone who was not Jewish but had attached himself or herself to Israel. They were people living among the Israelites. I think this is important for us to look at on a deeper level, especially in light of what Paul says in Romans 11:16 that we non- Jewish believers have been grafted in to the Jewish olive tree. We have, like the ger, become part of Israel, not becoming Jewish but sharing in the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As that occurred we then became partakers of their olive tree. Yeshua became our guide as to what that means in our life. So for us as believers this verse should bring joy to us. As we celebrate Rosh Hashanah this coming Wednesday evening we are gathering with Israel to come before the L-rd at His appointed time to worship Him as these people were doing as Moshe spoke these words to them.
Torah Portion: Balak (Numbers) B’Midbar 22-25
Haftorah Reading: Micah 5:6-6:8
Tonight we study the Torah portion named Balak, after a Moabite king. It is the only Torah portion we study that is looked at through the eyes of non-Jewish people. As you know, the setting takes place very near the time Israel enters the Land in an area geographically just across the Jordon River from what is now Israel.
Torah Portion: Vayechi (And He Lived) Genesis 47-50
HafTorah: I Kings 2:1-12
Tonight we finish the first book of Torah, Genesis. Fitting that it is named, “And He Lived.” As we look forward to next week we read Exodus where we see after hundreds of years of captivity the people of Israel still live.
Before we get to the Torah section for tonight I have a couple of other things to cover. First one is the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet which began last night and ends with the ending of Shabbat tonight. (The only fast that supersedes the Sabbath is Yom Kippur) It is to remember the day when the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem. This would end with much of Jerusalem being carried away into captivity and the destruction of the Temple of Solomon. Most see this siege of Jerusalem as a sign for the Jewish people to repent for having drifted away from G-d. If they had repented G-d might have saved them. But they did not repent therefore they were faced with this siege. I bring this up to remind us that we are under siege every time we go out into the world, a siege that can lull us into becoming complacent and forgetting who and what we are. This brings me to the point. It is our responsibility to teach what we know. We must pass on the truth that G-d has given us to our children, family, and to other people when the opportunity arises. Ignorance leads to wasted lives. It is evident all around us both within the circle of faith and outside. G-d calls on each of us to be diligent in teaching truth that G-d has shown us. The clock is ticking. I pray each of us take every opportunity to pass on what we know and help those who do not know.
Torah Portion: Vayetze (He went Out) Genesis 28:10-32:3
HafTorah: Hosea 11:7-13:5
This week we look at more than 20 years of Jacob’s life. We see him from the time he leaves home until he journeys back. He leaves with just his clothes on his back and returns with wives, children and many flocks. He leaves and actually becomes the first Jew to live in the galut. I think we can learn a lot by looking at his life and what it shows us spiritually. Let us begin with the first verse of our portion, Genesis 28:10. Here we see Jacob leaving the Land, that place on which the eyes of G-d are continually on and going toward Haran, a place of wickedness. Sometimes we are called to leave our comfortable, spiritual surroundings to go into a world that does not know G-d. How do we deal with it? How do we keep ourselves grounded in truth? Jacob made sure he left from a safe place, called “The Place” in Hebrew. This means more than just any place. His last night was spent, as he later states, in the house of G-d. There G-d speaks to him and promises him to be his protector and to bring him home. He does the same for each of us. I believe He is with us each step of our journey as we walk in His promise. When we leave our house each day G-d goes with us. Like Jacob we should begin our day having spent time with Him. We should prepare ourselves spiritually by being with Him each day. Our challenges each day should be met with our connection with Him, our knowing of His way and how we are to conduct ourselves in the world.
Torah Portion: Nitzavim (Standing) (Deut.) 29:9-30:20
HafTorah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
NT Romans 9:30-10:13; Hebrews 12:14-15
Before we really get into our study, I want to share something with you that I read this week. Israel became a state in May 1948. The Hebrew year when this occurred was 5708. Now to the interesting part: This week we read in Deut. 30:3, “The L-rd our G-d will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He has scattered you.” The article I read said this is the 5708th verse in Torah. If this is correct, and I didn’t count to see, what an orderly G-d we serve. Thousands of years ago G-d led Moses to speak this verse that would corresponds exactly to when the State of Israel would be formed. He is faithful, He is always faithful to Israel and to us. He is worthy of our trust, our love and faith in Him.
Torah Portion: Shemot Exodus 1:1-6:1
HafTorah: Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23
Acts 7:17-35; I Cor. 14:18-25
I would like us to begin by looking at Moses’ name. His name appears 740 times in the five books of Torah and yet it is an Egyptian name rather than a Hebrew name. It does have some similarities with Hebrew but here we read that Pharaoh’s daughter gave him this name. So why didn’t his Hebrew name get into the text? Surely he had one – every Hebrew boy was given a name at his Brit Milah.