Vayechi(And He Lived)B’resheet/Genesis 47:28-50:26
Today I would like us to look at the last Torah portion of Genesis. In this portion we read of the death of both Jacob and Joseph. This portion, like Chayai Sarah in Genesis 23:1, follows an interesting thought. Even though both are called by a name meaning life, they include the death of the main character.
Torah Portion: Mishpatim (Judgments) Exodus(Sh’mot) 21:1-24:18
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26
This is one of those Torah portions that sometimes gets pushed to the back of our minds. These judgments seem to be mostly outside of our more enlightened way of viewing our faith. Do we really need to consider these judgments as having any place in our modern world view?
Torah Portion Naso(Lift) Numbers (B’Midbar) 4-7
Torah Portion Yitro (Jethro) Sh’mot (Exodus) 18-20
Haftorah Reading Isaiah 6:1-13
Tonight we read one of the most moving sections in all of Torah. In this portion we read of the covenant between G-d and the people of Israel. This covenantal relationship set out here should also give each of us a good picture of who G-d is and what He requires of us in our lives as His people.
This covenant was entirely at His initiation. All He asked was that His people agree to its terms. I expect we all have had this experience with the Father. We come to understand how much He cares for us and how He has carried us up on eagles wing, called us to Himself and gave us a frame work to live by each day.
Torah Portion: Sh’mot (Names) Sh’mot (Exodus) 1-6
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
This week we start a new book of Torah named Sh’mot, after the first word of the book. This name Sh’mot in Hebrew, translates as Names in English. Let’s talk about this a bit and see if there is a lesson for us here. The book begins with the names of Jacob and his sons. Names we have heard before, names that we can remember from the person being a follower of G-d, persons having a relationship with G-d. We read of no other name until we come to the midwives who were known by their refusal of Pharaoh’s order to kill the newborn baby boys of the Hebrew women. Interestingly, one name we do not know is that of Pharaoh. Why is that do you think? Maybe it is because he mocked G-d and burdened the people in their bondage.
Torah Portion: D’varim (Deut) 1:1-3:22
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 1:1-27
This week we read the first Torah portion of D’Varim, known in English as Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a Greek word meaning Second Torah. This meaning is misleading since there are many commandments that do not appear here but are found in other books of Torah. The name in Hebrew, however, has a much deeper meaning. In Hebrew the root of the word, d’var, can mean both thing and word. It was by the Word of G-d that all things came into being.
Torah Portion: B’Midbar(In the Desert) Numbers 1-4
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 1:10-2:20
Tonight we begin the fourth book of the Torah. This book will take us up to the entry into the Land 40 years later. Here in our portion we see G-d getting the people ready to begin their desert journey. Before I get to my question of the week I would like to lay out a few spiritual principles that I think will speak to us.
Torah Portion: B’midbar (In the desert) Numbers 1-4:20
HafTorah: Hosea 1:10-2:20
This Sabbath we read the first portion of the fourth book of Torah-B’midbar. Also tonight when Sabbath ends the Appointed Time of Shavuot begins. This holiday is the second of three times on G-d’s calendar when Jews were to go to Jerusalem to celebrate one of G-d’s appointed times. In traditional Judaism this holiday commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Therefore we can grasp somewhat what is happening in Acts 2 when the Jews from all over the world were gathered in Jerusalem. As the early believers were gathered together and praying a great wind and fire appeared and touched each of them. What should interest us is basically the same scene played out thousands of years earlier at Sinai. There, G-d imparted His word. Here G-d gave His word and everyone understood it. So as we celebrate this holiday of Shavuot we are able to thank the Father for His steadfastness and that He has included us in this, His story of faithfulness.
Torah Portion: Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21:1-24:23
HafTorah: Ezekiel 44:15-31
We have the opportunity to cover a lot of subjects tonight. I will try to keep it to just a few. Much of this portion has to do with holiness and the importance of being a holy people. I would like to begin by saying a few words about the name of this Torah Portion. The name is Emor, which is taken from the first verses of Leviticus chapter 21. In Hebrew the word emor comes from the root meaning to “say.” The word deber is more often used when describing a setting of talking to someone. However, this word, emor, is used when describing a more personal conversation where the feelings behind the words are easily conveyed. We see this word used in the creation verses in Genesis. Here it shows G-d speaking in a quieter more personal way as He calls out for creation to respond to Him. This shows us G-d’s intimate relationship to His creation. Here in our portion we see Him urging the priests that minister before Him to be gentle as they go about their tasks of representing Him before the people. What does this have to do with us? As priests (I Peter 2:9) it teaches us how to communicate with our family and the world. Here G-d is showing His heart as a Father or Abba. It is that same quality that we use while instructing our own children and grandchildren. A calm loving way will make an impression that will be heard and will last. A still small voice can accomplish more than a loud strong voice. It is how Yeshua related to people and how we are called to relate. Even our disagreements need not be shouted.
Torah Portion: T’rumah (Contribution) Exodus 25-27
HafTorah: I Kings 5:26-6:13
Tonight we read and study G-d’s instructions for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Notice these are very exact instructions. The word approximate, is never used. Everything fits exactly together, every part was important. The mundane items were of equal importance as the more flashy or ornate. Questions arise from these verses. Where did all the material come from? Remember G-d told the people to plunder the Egyptians when they went out of Egypt. What was the purpose of this plundering? Was it to be a treasure for each person to hold on to or was it to be used for the Mishkan? I believe it was for this purpose of building the Mishkan but even here G-d only wanted those items that people were willing to give. I think wrapped up in this is an important lesson for us all. Did G-d really need a house – a holy place? Of course not. The building of the Mishkan was important because it gave the people an opportunity to give back to G-d. G-d was interested in dwelling in His people. This required an act on their part to have a heart that was ready for that indwelling. Having a gracious giving heart is an integral part of being ready. As soon as a people begin to see life as only an opportunity for taking they are not capable of seeing clearly that all they have is really only on loan from Him and not to be guarded so closely that we miss, or worse, are not interested in returning or giving back when we have the opportunity. The very word T’rumah means at its root to offer to life up. So here, when the people returned to G-d what He had given them with a willing heart are they united and lifted up. This is G-d’s point in this whole process. When they, the people, came to the Mishkan they were of one heart and mind. They were a part of its building. T’rumah can be much more than money. All we have comes form our Father, our talent, our wisdom, everything is to be used to serve the purpose of allowing G-d to indwell whatever or whoever we are.