Lekh L’Kha (Go to Yourself) B’resheet/Genesis12:1-17:27
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 40:27-41:16
This week we read a portion that should speak to each of us in our spiritual walk. This portion starts in Genesis 12:1 with the word of G-d coming to Abraham telling him to, “Go to yourself.” Oddly, Avraham had already left his home of origin when his father Terah took his family, including Avraham, Sarah and Lot, from Ur of the Chaldeans and traveled to Haran. It is interesting that scripture points out that Terah was headed for Canaan but stopped in Haran and stayed there until his death. (Genesis 11:31-32) There is no mention of Terah hearing from G-d or that being a factor in his decision to leave Ur.
Torah Portion: Naso (Take) B’midbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
Haftorah Readings: Judges 13:2-25
Tonight we read and study the longest Torah portion of the year. It contains many subjects we could spend hours studying. However, tonight we will only look at two or three topics that I think will give all of us a deeper insight into spiritual principles that can help us in our life.
First, I want to start with Numbers 5:6-7. In these verses we read the process to be taken when we have sinned. In verse 7 we read, “Then they shall confess their sin which they have done.” Let’s talk about this for a moment. We are to speak out loud our confession to G-d. Why do we have to verbalize our words of remorse and confession of guilt before G-d? He knows our every thought and action. So why are we to speak it out loud? Maybe the point of speaking our confession out loud is for our own benefit. When we speak the words out loud they become more real to us, more intense. The sin is no long just in our memory but the words have been spoken. I believe when we speak the words out it cannot be easily swept under the rug. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. The sin becomes more real to us. It causes us to consider just how we could have done such a thing. Our actions are out in the light. We can look at our actions more clearly.
Torah Portion: Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 44:15-31
Our Torah portion today is Emor. When we read it, I would expect our initial feeling might be that theses verses have little to do with us in today’s world. However, I want to take a few minutes to see if that is an accurate way to interpret these words. I would like to do this by looking specifically at a few verses.
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: Vayera (He Appeared) B’Resheet (Gen.) 18;1-22:22
HafTorah: II Kings 4:1-37
Tonight we read a Torah portion filled with much to say to us about our life of faith. We read in these chapters a great swath of Avraham’s life, the promise of a child, bargaining with G-d over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the time with Avimelech where the king took Sarah after Avraham told him she was his sister. We also read of the banishing of Hagar and her son and ending with what is known in Hebrew as the “Akedah” or Binding. It is here that I want to spend most of our time this evening. Here we see G-d test Avraham and the result of that test. As we talk about this I ask that each of us put ourselves in his place and consider how we would have replied to this test. In fact, I would say all of us have or will have our faith tested in our walk with G-d through life. It probably will not be as dramatic as Avraham’s test but when it comes it will require us to plum the depth of our faith.
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: Naso (Count) Numbers 4:21-7:89
HafTorah: Judges 13:2-5
This evening we look at the Torah Portion named Naso or count. In this Torah section we cover many topics but I want us to look closely at two, both of which are in chapter 5 of Numbers.
The first thing I would like us to seek the L-rd on is found in Numbers 5:6-7. It speaks of confession of our sins. In these verses we read that when we sin we are to confess our sins to G-d. In Hebrew this is called “vidui.” The important part is that the confession, according to Judaism and Christianity, is to be verbalized. We speak the words with our mouth to G-d. What’s the point of vocalizing our thoughts of remorse to G-d? The L-rd of the universe knows our every thought and our every feeling like an open book. Why must our confession be verbal?
Torah Portion: Yitro (Jethro) Sh’mot (Exodus) 18-20
HafTorah: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tonight we look at the Torah portion Jethro, who was the father-in-law of Moses. This portion contains the 10 commandments and G-d meeting the people at the mountain of G-d. Here we see for the first time G-d speaks to a nation. Up until now G-d had communicated with a person but here to a people. This changed everything. No longer did Israel have to depend on the stories they had heard from their ancestors. Here they saw and heard G-d for themselves from the smallest to the greatest. They all saw the words of G-d and heard the shofar. Then we come to verse 20:19 of Exodus. They ask Moses to hear G-d for them and relate the message to them. Jewish scholars look at this as a lost opportunity. In fact Moses exhorts them to not be afraid but to press on.
Torah Portion: Tzav (Command) Leviticus 6:8-8:36
HafTorah: Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23
This week we read what could be called the priestly manual concerning the sacrifices. It starts with the word Tzav or command. Usually when G-d wanted Moses to communicate something to the people or priests He would tell Moses to “speak” or “tell.” But here He says “command.” Why? Was He worried they would forget or do something other than what He had told them? This Hebrew word carries with it the urgency of the moment but also to be consistent over time. It would be easy to do things G-d’s way when things were new and fresh, not so much as time went on. Here in lies our lesson as priests. Consistency. Our lives should show that same consistency, that same hunger as the first days. If what we have received from G-d is important we must live like it and carry on doing it until we are gathered together with Him. That thought is carried on with the first “how to” command of the burnt offering. What was unique about this? It indicated a complete sold out-ness to G-d. Everything was consumed on the altar and it was kept on the altar 24/7, even on the Sabbath. Here it is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. We are to live each day burned up for G-d, so to speak, especially as priests.
Weekly Torah Section: Pinchas Numbers 25:10-30:1, HafTorah I Kings 18:46-19:21
This week we pick back up with the saga of Elijah after the conflict on Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Ba’al, his pinnacle of success as a prophet to the northern kingdom. G-d has answered him in a wonderful way. Rain comes, Elijah tells Ahab to hurry home before the rains make it impossible. In verse 46 it says the Hand of G-d was on him and he ran before Ahab. The idea here is that after his victory Elijah was considered part of the king’s entourage now. Ahab included him in the company going before him. So why does he run as soon as Jezebel threatens him two verses later? Maybe his new position gave him a false sense of security, maybe he trusted Ahab to protect him. Is it easy to take our eyes off of G-d as our protector and shield? So Elijah takes his servant and runs to the wilderness – to Beersheva. The wilderness is often used as a place of refuge. Israel, David, Yeshua, all had experiences in the wilderness. It is also a place of revelation. Think what we have said about the word for desert. In Hebrew the word for desert is midbar. To speak is ledaber. The root word is the same in both words. People went to the desert to hear from G-d.