: Vayechi (And He Lived) B’resheet/Genesis 47:28-50:26
Haftorah Readings: I Kings 2:1-12
Tonight we finish the first book of Torah with a portion about the last days of the life of Jacob. As I pointed out in my questions this week there is one other portion that begins with basically the same words. In Genesis 23:1 we read a portion beginning with this verse, when translated to English reads, ”The life of Sarah.” What is scripture telling us in these two portions?
It seems to me scripture is telling us that death is not the end. It is telling us that our lives are measured by what we leave behind, our legacy of children or others that were influenced by us. These are the things that count. These are of lasting value. Death is but a transition between this world and the next. Here in our reading this week we see Jacob coming to the end of his life here on earth. From here the story carries on with his children and their children and the founding of the twelve tribes of Israel. As history unfolds we see Jacob’s life even intersecting our lives, through his lineage, Yeshua the Messiah.
Torah Portion Kedoshim (Holy People) Leviticus/Vayikra 19:1-20:27
Haftorah Reading Ezekiel 20:2-20
Tonight, we study, by most accounts, the most important Torah portion. The reason is very simple. Parashat Kedoshim actually tells us in practical terms what it means to be holy.
Torah Portion: Ki Tisa (When You Take) Exodus(Sh’mot) 30:11-34:35
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 18:1-39
Tonight, we study the sin of the golden calf. This is a pivotal Torah portion from which I pray we can grasp what G-d is saying to us in our own life. However, before we get to the verses about the golden calf there are a couple of other points I also see as important to us and should help us in our understanding of verses we will look at in the Messianic scriptures.
We start our portion with the taking of a census of G-d’s people. In Exodus/Sh’mot 30:11-15 we read the instructions on how this census was to be taken. We also read of the consequences that would follow if it was not done according to the guidelines set out here. Later in II Samuel 24:1-17 we read where King David took a census of the people without following G-d’s guidelines set out in our portion. As a result of that action by David 70,000 people died of a plague that is mentioned in our portion as one of the results of not following G-d’s guidelines. So, it would seem there is an important lesson for us in this directive to take a census.
Torah Portion Mattot (Tribes) Masa’ei (Stages) (B’Midbar) Numbers30:2-36:13
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:28
This week we finish the book of B’Midbar or Numbers. In these two Torah portions we cover a number of topics. These are topics that speak to us in our life and world today. One of the dominant themes is the subject of words. When we began our journey through the Torah the words spoken by G-d brought the world into being. Through all the books so far we have seen the power of words both for good and for evil. We see this same theme in the Messianic Scriptures in Matthew 5:37 where it says, “But let your yes be yes and your no no. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
Torah Portion Mishpatim (Judgments ) Sh’mot (Exodus) 21-24
Haftorah Reading Jeremiah 34:8-22, 33:25-26
If you could summarize this Torah portion what would you say is the over-riding theme of these verses? As we start I want to say a word about the very first word of our section of scripture. In Hebrew it is actually two words, Va’eleh, which means, “And these.” These words, “and these” link what we just finished reading in last week’s portion to what we are about to read following these words. They should be understood in the same way as what proceeded. Last week we read the Ten Commandments that many would say, is the peak of G-d’s message to the people at the mountain. Therefore the words of our section tonight are to be read and understood in the same light. From our understanding of the Messianic scriptures we also see the same idea stressed over and over. James 1:27 says it plainly, ”Pure and undefiled religion before G-d and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.” It stresses what should be the conduct of us all. The true test of a civilization is how it treats its elderly, poor and orphaned.
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: Shoftim (Judges) D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 16-21
HafTorah: Isaiah 51:12-53:12
This week we read the Torah portion Shoftim. This portion continues Moshe’s instructions to the people about how they were to live and carry on their lives in the Land of Promise. We will look at several scriptures that will give us insight into our own lives and how we are to live and relate to our world today. I think we will see a common thread worked through these verses. We will see that we have a responsibility as believers in this world to ourselves and to those around us to live our lives with the will and word of G-d always on our lips and in our hearts.
Torah Portion: Vayak’hel (And He Assembled) Exodus 35-38
HafTorah: I Kings 7:13-26; 7:40-50
As we near the end of She’mot we read of Moses calling the people together soon after the sin of the golden calf. There are many interesting lessons for us in this Torah section. To begin with the name of this section should speak to us. In Hebrew there are several terms for a group of people. One is Edah – from which comes the noun witness. When this word is used it often refers to people who have witnessed the same thing. They have a common purpose. An Edah can be a gathering for good or bad. For example, when the people hear the report of the spies and lose heart (Numbers (B’Midbar) 14:27) or in Numbers 16:22 in the rebellion against Moses. The word emphasizes strong identity among the members.
Torah Portion: Va’etchanan (I Pleaded) Devarim Deut. 3:23-7:11
HafTorah: Isaiah 40:1-26
This Torah portion is filled with things that would take a life time to study. We will look at several in the minutes ahead. This Shabbat is known as the Sabbath of Comfort based on the prophet reading of Isaiah 40:1-26. It begins with, “Comfort, Comfort My people.” Tell me how we can comfort Israel, how we can comfort the Jewish people? There is no doubt this is required of us. Yeshua alluded to this in the New Testament where He tells us in Matt. 25:31-36 to comfort His people by feeding, clothing and visiting them in prison. In fact this is one of the reasons for the founding of Road to Zion Ministries. This is vitally important to us as believers. Is it enough to talk about how much we love Israel and the Jewish people or does it require us to do something, to take some action? Evangelism is not the only thing we should be doing. Yeshua says here He judges us by our actions toward His people. His people are the Jewish people. They are his brothers and sisters. For far too long we Christians have been the main source of pain and persecution rather than comfort. The time is drawing close at hand when our response to our Jewish neighbors will be called for. We are required to comfort. How will we respond?
Torah Portion: Tol’dot (History) B’Resheet (Gen.) 25:19-28:9
HafTorah: Malachi 1:1-2:7
Today as Israel stands on the brink of a ground war in Gaza, the head Rabbi blessed the troops with part of this verse Zech 12:10, “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication…”. We surely pray with him for G-d’s grace and supplications for each one of Israel’s soldiers as well as each citizen. I would like us to read the entire verse and pray the last half of the verse also. I would pray that they will look on the One they have rejected and will mourn for Him as one mourns for His only son. We must stand in the gap now for G-d’s people and pray for an opening of their eyes that their hearts would melt and this will draw them to G-d through Yeshua. Please intercede everyday for them that during this war G-d will be merciful toward them and bring them to Him.