Torah portion: Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1
Haftorah Reading I Kings 18:46-19:21
In this Torah portion we read the conclusion of the activities of the Israelites following their interaction with the Midianite women. In Numbers 25: 16-18 we read an interesting explanation of how G-d looked at the sins of immorality and idol worship. In these verses we read that these sins were viewed by G-d as being equally responsible for the plague G-d sent on the Israelites that took the lives of 24,000 people. As we have studied the Torah we have seen on many occasions that idol worship was the father of all sins. Nothing was looked at as being on the level of idol worship. I would like to share an explanation with you that might give us some answers to how here immorality and idol worship were looked at as being both responsible for Israel’s punishment. To do this I will draw from an article that I read this week by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin who serves as the chief Rabbi of the town of Efrat in Israel. In our society today we hear over and over that as long as we do not harm another person pretty much anything we do in okay if it brings us pleasure. The verses above give us an important insight that refutes that idea.
Torah Portion: Ki Tisa (When You Take) Exodus 30-34
HafTorah: I Kings 18:1-39
Tonight we read about a number of different subjects, from taking a census to the incident with the golden calf. It is on this last topic that I want us to spend our evening looking at and discussing.
Beginning in chapter 32 we can follow the process that results in the terrible sin of the calf. Think about what is going on here like a split screen TV. On one side we see Moshe on the top of the mountain with G-d. Moshe had come into that place where heaven and earth intersected. He was with the Father. Now think about the other half of the screen where we see the children of Israel at the same time. They had grown impatient when Moshe did not return when they were expecting him to. When he didn’t appear they went to Aaron and asked him to make gods for them to lead them because they did not know what had become of Moshe.
Torah Portion: Korach Numbers (B’Midbar) 16:1-18:32
HafTorah: I Samuel 11:14-12:22
New Testament: Jude; II Tim 2:8-21
This week the Torah section covers the rebellion of Korach, Datan and Aviram as well as the 250 leaders of Israel and finally the congregation of Israel. This progression shows us how rebellion spreads. First it was only three, then 250 and then 14,700 that perished. This paints a great picture for us and should be a word for us about rebellion against G-d.
Torah Portion: Vaetchanan (And I pleaded) Deut. 3:23-7:11
HafTorah: Isaiah 40:1-26
Matt. 23:31-39, Mark 12:28-34
In this section of scripture there are many important subjects covered: Mt. Sinai, Ten Commandments, Moses pleading with G-d to enter the Land, the Shema. But tonight I want to start with the question I sent out from Deut. 4:4, “But you who held fast to the L-rd your G-d are alive today, everyone of you.” What does it mean to “hold fast” ? In Hebrew the word is “Had-vachem” included in this word is the root for stick or glue. How do we do it? And how do we keep doing it? What happens if we don’t stay stuck to G-d?
Torah Portion: Re’eh (Behold, See) Deut. 11:26-16:17
HafTorah: Isaiah 54:11-55:5
I would like to start by looking at the Torah section first. I would like to look at it in what it says about worship. In Hebrew the word for worship and work has the same root. What could they have in common? Worship is not something that we sit back and let someone do for us. We must be active participants. It requires effort from us and it must be acceptable.
Weekly Torah Section: Ki Tisa (When You Take) Exodus 30:11-34:35, Haftorah: I Kings 18:1-39
We begin with the Haftorah reading in I Kings 18. To orient ourselves these events happened in the 9th century BCE during the reign of King Ahab. Ahab married a princess of Tyre named Jezebel. She introduced the worship of her god, Baal to Israel. Baal was supposed to be the god of rain and storms. She also sought to kill all the prophets of the L-rd. Many of the people in Israel followed both Baal and the true G-d of Israel. Deut. 11:16-17 says that if the people turn to other gods, G-d will shut the heavens and there will be no rain and crops will fail. So here G-d sends Elijah with this message, a direct challenge to this so called god of rain.