Parashah Shelach L’cha 2022 (Send for you) Numbers 13 – 15

The Israelites are now at the border of the Promised Land, and they suggest to Moses to send spies in to reconnoiter the land before attacking it.

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This seems like a good idea to Moses, so he chooses one prince from each tribe (12 men in total) to search out the land and report back.

After 40 days in the land, the spies come back and report that it is a wonderful land, bringing back samples of the fruit and other natural resources. But they also report that the towns are fortified, and they saw the sons of Anak (giants) in the land.

Joshua and Caleb were excited to enter, and faithfully declared that they should attack because God will give this wonderful land to them. However, the other 10 princes said that they would be destroyed and had no chance of winning against such a strong and fortified people.

This distressed everyone so much they wanted to stone Moses, but God appeared and told Moses that he will destroy these people and make a new, better nation out of Moses.

Moses begs God not to do that, saying (as before) that if God destroyed the people, his name (meaning his reputation) would be weakened, as the other nations would say God destroyed the people because he wasn’t able to do as he said he would.

So God relents, and tells Moses that these people will not enter the land, and to turn towards the desert. Their punishment will be that whereas they cried their children would be taken as slaves, it will be their children who inherit the land, and not the parents.

Moses is told that for every day they were in the land, they will wander in the desert one year until all of the generation that despised God’s word by revolting against him and not entering the land will be dead.

Upon hearing of their punishment, the people immediately repent and say they will now do as God said, but it is too late. Moses warns them not to attack because God is not with them and they have no chance, but they follow one terrible mistake with another and ignore Moses’ warning.

Of course, they are defeated horribly, pushed all the way back to Hormah (which means “utter destruction”).

This parashah ends with God repeating the Levitical rules for sacrifices, the showbread, and the wearing of tzitzis. The final entry is a story of a man collecting sticks on the Shabbat, and for that sin God commands he be stoned to death.

I want to change up a little today, and instead of talking about the parashah, I want to talk about the Haftorah reading, which is in the Book of Joshua, Chapter 2.

This may be a good time to digress a bit, and review about the reading of the Torah.

A predetermined portion of the Torah, called a parashah, is read each Shabbat; there are 54 readings for the one-year cycle, with some readings doubled to keep pace with leap years. All Jews, everywhere, come to the final sentences of the Torah at the same time, which is the 8th day of Sukkot. We call that day Shemini Atzeret (8th day of assembly) and Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah). On this holiday, the Torah is paraded around the neighborhood, accompanied by singing and shofar blasts, and once back in the synagogue, as the congregation dances and sings, the Torah scroll is rolled back to Genesis.

The Haftorah is a section of the other books of the Tanakh (Old Covenant), usually from one of the books of the Prophets, which are read in addition to the parashah. The haftorah is chosen because the events there relate to the events in the Torah reading of that day.

OK, that being said, let’s get back to todays’ message.

The haftorah for today occurs some 38 years after the events in the Torah. Joshua is now the leader of the Israelites, and they are outside the land, having just defeated Og and Sichon.

Unlike the mistake Moses made when he sent 12 men into the land, Joshua sends only two men to spy out the land, knowing that he can trust these two to bring back a true report.

Remember: these men are not former slaves, for that entire generation (except for Joshua and Caleb) have died. These two are men raised in hardship, living and growing up in the desert, and aren’t conditioned with the mindset of a slave.

The men reconnoiter Jericho and while there, they come to the house of Rahab, a prostitute, who hides them from the King of Jericho making the spies promise to protect her family when the Israelites come to attack the people in the land.

The men do so, and report back to Joshua that the people in the land are scared stiff, and already emotionally defeated.

How does this reading relate to the Torah portion? Well, it seems pretty obvious: Joshua learned that the more people you send to do a job, the more reports you will have to deal with.

It is like that old adage: too many chefs spoil the soup.

We need to learn from this that when we trust people, the more people we trust to accomplish something, the less likely it will get done correctly. This doesn’t mean to take on everything alone- that is another type of mistake.

My father, God rest his soul, used to tell me when I was a young boy and asked to help him with a project, that he wanted to do it alone so that if it went wrong, the only person to blame was himself. That made sense to me at that time, but as I grew older and placed in positions of leadership, I realized how wrong that attitude was.

People in leadership positions have an obligation to teach all they know to the ones who they are in charge of, to make that person a greater asset to the company, or congregation, or just to help them become a better person.

For those of us in a position of spiritual leadership, that means when choosing shammashim (Hebrew for “leaders”) within the congregation, you must follow the biblical requirements for a leader.

In the New Covenant, you can find these in Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13: 7 and 17-19. However, you must also remember that these are all from the Torah portions in Exodus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 1:13.

We must be careful to not choose by friendship or by influence, and especially not by financial support. Too many congregations are led by those who are the greatest tithers, and that is not assigning by ability, but by bank account.

Moses sent too many people, and Joshua sent just the right number of people.

Moses sent those who were in positions of honor, while Joshua sent those who he trusted to give a proper report.

What’s the bottom line? We must choose those who demonstrate the qualities specified in the Torah when we assign people important positions within our congregations, following the example that Joshua set for us.

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah B’ha’alotecha 2022 (When you set up) Numbers 8 – 12

Moses has set up the tabernacle and consecrated it. Now he consecrates all the Levi’im as separated for God, in place of all the firstborn that God destroyed in Egypt.

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We are told how the camp would remain where they were when the cloud remained over the Tabernacle, and how they travelled when the cloud moved. No matter how long the cloud stayed, or how long it kept moving, the people did as the cloud led them.

The people complained, as always, about no meat and how they had it better in Egypt, so Moses asks God to just kill him if he has to continue to deal with all these complaints. God tells Moses to pick out 70 trustworthy men and they will share the load with Moses, as God will place some of the spirit he gave to Moses on them.

The order of march is given to us, so we know how the people moved, who was first and who was last, and the final chapter deals with when Miriam and Aaron complained against Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. The punishment God meted out was to cause Tzara’at (leprosy) to appear on Miriam. Moses immediately prayed for her to be cured, and God did that, but also shut her outside the camp for a week.

There are some interesting things in here, at least, interesting to me.

One is the giving of the spirit to the 70 elders in the camp. Even though two of them did not appear with the others at the Tabernacle, as Moses had told them, they also received the spirit. That makes me wonder if they refused to come, or just forgot, or had something else come up. In any case, God did what Moses asked him to do, even though it seems that these two refused to be part of it.

But that’s not the only thing I wondered about- we are told in Exodus 18 that Moses’ father-in-law suggests delegating authority to others to take the load off of Moses in dealing with disputes, and even goes as far as to tell Moses that God commands it. Every time I read that passage, I wondered, “How did Jethro know God commanded it?”

And now, here in this parashah, we see that God does command Moses to pick 70 men to help him in dealing with the people, so is this the same event?

In this parashah we also read that Moses asks his brother-in-law to stay with the people as they travel. To me, it makes sense that when Jethro brought his wife and children out to Moses that maybe other members of the family came with them. If so, then the brother-in-law could have been there when Jethro made his suggestion to Moses.

I don’t know, absolutely, if these two Torah stories are the same event, but it seems so to me. After all, it is no secret that the books of the Torah are not in strict chronological order, and some events are repeated in different books.

Another part of this particular parashah that I love is the last chapter, Chapter 12, where Miriam and Aaron speak out against Moses. Not because of what happened, but because this parashah is the passage I read at my Bar Mitzvah, which I had on the same day I celebrated my 13th birthday, and guess what today is?

That’s right. Of course, it was quite a while ago that I was 13, but this is the very passage I read on this same day of the year, all those many years ago.

And I constantly use this particular Torah story when talking about praying. Especially when people pray on and on, or ask God to heal someone specifying exactly, in inordinate detail, what God should do in order to heal them.

I believe we should ask God for help by following Moses’ example. Here we have Moses seeing his big sister white as death, yet in his shock and anguish at her fate, all he says is:

Oh God, I beg you, please, heal her!” (CJB)

That’s all he said, and I believe it is because he trusted God to know what to do.

That’s called faith!

We should demonstrate that level of trust and faith, ourselves, when asking God to help someone. Wordiness is not faithfulness, and going an-and-on-and-on is not going to make God any more inclined to do something.

And I have to consider (disagree if you will) that God, as patient as he is, when someone is telling him how to heal and what to do and where to do it, he has to be thinking something along the lines of:

Really? You think I don’t know what to do?

So today’s message is this: trust in God to know what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and even if it should be done.

When it comes to asking God for anything, I go by the old KISS rule:

Keep It Simple, Schlemiel!

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, and while on the website please buy my books.

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Emor 2022 (Speak) Leviticus 21-24

These chapters begin with rules for the priests regarding not defiling themselves by having any contact with the dead (except for close family members) and marrying only a virgin. The Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) shall not even have contact with family members who die, nor shall he ever mourn (at least, not in public).

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No priest can offer any sacrifice or perform any priestly duties if they have any sort of deformity or blemish or are in a condition of uncleanliness.

Chapter 23 is where God instructs us about the 7 Holy Days, which are not to be confused with holidays, those being man-made. God’s required celebrations are the Shabbat, Passover, Hag HaMatzot (Passover is only the late afternoon until midnight, with the 7 days of unleavened bread being a separate festival), Counting of the Omer (not a Holy Day but important because it brings us to the next one), Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.

God instructed Moses about the show bread and the Ner Tamid (Eternal Flame).

We are told of an incident where an Israelite man (Israelite mother and Egyptian father) blasphemed God’s name and cursed, and his punishment was to have all the people who heard him lay their hands on his head, then the entire congregation was to stone him to death. We are told that any punishment must be equal to the crime, which was described by God as “breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”

(I can make an entire message on the way this one statement has been misunderstood.)

Probably one of the most important instructions, and the final one for this parashah, is the commandment that there shall be only one law for both the natural Jew and the Gentile.

Okay, then…not much to analyze or look for deeper, meanings here. This is all pretty straight-forward.

But what does it mean to us? What do I have to worry about if I am not a descendant of Aaron, or a Levite?

Well, if you are a member of the body of the Messiah, or any sect of Judaism (even if you haven’t accepted Yeshua as your Messiah), then you are a priest.

YIKES! You mean to tell me that even as a Gentile Christian I am considered to be a priest?

I believe the answer is….YES!

Why? Because any one who sojourns with Israel, i.e., joins the chosen people of God, is considered to be an adopted son of Abraham (Galatians 3:29), and, as a member of God’s chosen people, you are also one of God’s priests to the world( Exodus 19:6).

Not what they told you in church, huh?

Did they also fail to tell you that as a adopted child of Abraham, that because God said there is to be one law for both the stranger (i.e., Gentile joined to the people) and the Jew, that means you are also required to obey his law (that means the Torah, people)?

Now that’s quite a kick in the pants, right?

Here’s how it works, folks: when you accept Yeshua (Jesus) as your Messiah, you are a spiritual sojourner with Israel and an adopted child of Abraham. This does NOT mean you are a Jew- that has to be by blood, not by choice (except maybe in the case of total conversion). But, as a member of Israel you are a priest for God, which requires you to obey the priestly requirements in this parashah, and throughout the Torah.

And as a natural-born Jewish person, you are already a priest, Believer or not, like it or not.

This is how I see it, based on how I interpret the Torah and some of what Shaul (Paul) wrote.

I understand that this does open a can of worms, as they say, because now we have to ask if your marriage is acceptable (if you didn’t marry a virgin); are you allowed to visit the graves of your loved ones; can you come into church (or synagogue) if you had sex recently and didn’t shower afterwards?

And these are just the easy questions!

If you expect me to answer them, I am sorry but I won’t go there. I think we all have to read the Torah and come up with the answers for ourselves, asking God to have the Ruach HaKadosh (Holy Spirit) guide us in our decision. I know this sounds like a cop-out, but I am not sure of the answers, myself.

I do know one thing- thanks to Yeshua, if I do sin accidentally by not properly observing the rules for a priest, then I can receive forgiveness through him.

Here’s an interesting thing I would like to share with you: when I worked at a Jewish cemetery, if the people looking to buy a burial plot had a last name that was Cohen or Levy, or anything similar, they had to buy a plot directly off the road because as a Levite, they couldn’t even stand on the ground without (ceremonially) becoming unclean. For me, as a salesman, that meant more money because those are the most expensive areas in any cemetery.

I have been told that my DNA analysis (my older sister, Wendy is our genealogist) shows I have the genetic marker of a Levite, so I know I have to be careful in how I live my life. My current marriage is a second marriage for both my wife and myself, so that would disqualify me, but these things happened before I became a Believer, so I hope that they are not counted.

After all, we are born a new creation every day (2 Corinthians, 5:17) so I am trying, each day for the rest of my life, to qualify for God’s requirements as one of his priests.

What about you? Do you feel “priestly”? You are, you know, whether or not you want to be, so if you like being blessed by God and want to act in accordance with what God says (not what some man-made religion says), then I suggest read this parashah for yourself and get with the program.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, buy my books, and join my Facebook discussion group called “Just God’s Word” (please read and agree to the rules).

And I always welcome any comments you may have: feedback lets me know someone is listening, so please (at least) send me a “Good Job”, or “You’re crazy!”, and let’s drash it out, together.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Pesach Ha’yom Ha’shemini Reading 2022 (Passover Eighth Day Reading) Deuteronomy 15:19 – 16:17

As we come to the end of Pesach (Passover) we are reading from the Torah the section where God has Moses remind the people that all the firstborn of the flock and herd belong to God. He states that the sacrifice must be eaten at the place where God puts his name, and that we are not to eat the blood but, instead, pour it out on the ground.

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He further reminds us about the Passover rules and the 7 days of unleavened bread. Passover is, actually, just that first evening; the next 7 days are the Feast of Unleavened bread.

God gives us his instructions for the counting of the Omer, starting on the first Shabbat after the beginning of Pesach, and that when it is over we celebrate Shavuot.

This parashah reading ends with God telling us that three times during the year we are to appear at the place where he chooses to put his name: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

The Haftorah reading for this special day is Isaiah 10:32-12:6, which is when he prophesized the coming of the Messiah and the regathering of God’s chosen people throughout the world. He also states that the Goyim (literally, the nations, but generally referring to non-Jews, i.e. Gentiles) will also seek out the Messiah. On that day, Isaiah tells us, everyone will give thanks to God for turning away his righteous anger and providing our salvation.

This Shabbat’s message is pretty clear- celebrate the Passover as God said to, and one day the Messiah will come to save us; when that day comes, even the Gentiles will seek him out.

Well, for those of us who recognize that Yeshua (Jesus) was, and still is, the Messiah, we are already saved from the eternal consequences of our sins. Of course, that isn’t automatic: we still need to repent of every sin we commit and ask God’s forgiveness, by means of the sacrifice that Yeshua made.

As I have mentioned before, God tells us, more than once, to make sure we don’t sacrifice to him just anywhere- that is what the pagans do. We are to sacrifice only where God chooses to put his name.

During the 40 years in the desert, that place was the Tent of Meeting (also called the Sanctuary or Tabernacle), and when the people entered the land the tent was set up in different places. Initially it was at their main camp in Gilgal and later at Shiloh, where it stayed for some 369 years until King David moved it and the Ark to Jerusalem (after a short stop-over in the house of Oved-Edom).

After Solomon built the temple and put the Ark of the Covenant inside, God chose that place (demonstrated by his Shekinah Glory filling the house) to be the only place where sacrifices to God could be offered.

Jews came from all over the Middle East to Jerusalem to make the Passover sacrifice; I would guess, although I don’t think the Bible tells us, that if someone lived a long distance away it just made sense to hang around the City of David instead of taking weeks to travel back, only to turn around and go to Jerusalem, again, for the mandatory appearance at Shavuot.

So, we have this Shabbat reading telling us of the requirement to go to the temple, and Isaiah telling us that when Messiah comes all the people will rejoice and give thanks to God for his salvation, one might wonder what these two have in common, since the rabbis have decided they should be read together.

The common factor, as far as I see it, is the requirement to sacrifice where God places his name and the Messiah’s role in salvation.

You see, when the temple was destroyed in 73 AD, there was no way for Jews to be forgiven of their sins, let alone perform the cleansing or peace offerings that are so much a part of our spiritual lives. That was the place God had put his name, the only place God allowed us to sacrifice, and now it was gone!

But through the sacrifice of the Messiah, Yeshua, we could receive forgiveness of sins without the temple. Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice meant that we no longer had to bring an animal to the place God put his name because Yeshua replaced that part of the sacrificial system.

For the record: when I say his sacrifice was a “once-and-for-all” sacrifice, I do NOT mean once it was done, for all time after that no one had to ask for forgiveness, as the “Once Saved: Always Saved” group would lead you to believe.

No! – What I mean is that his sacrifice was once, and for all PEOPLE!

By the end of the First Century, the Gentiles were already seeking out the Jewish messiah, which was good!

But, unfortunately, over the centuries these early Believers and their followers have so misinterpreted and misconstrued what people have written about Yeshua and what people taught the Gentile followers of Yeshua- who they call Jesus- should do or not do, that the Christian Savior is NOT the Messiah God sent to save them.

We can only pray that when the End Days do arrive, those Christians who have been misled by their leaders will come to know the lies they have been told, and seek out the real Messiah, the one God had Isaiah tell us about.

There is some good news, though: many Christians today are seeking out the real Messiah, and getting back to serving God as he said to.

In light of this, I am going to plug my latest book, “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews“, which is also for Christians. In this book, I debunk the traditional lies from both Christians and Jews have been taught about Messiah Yeshua. It’s available on Amazon Books in both paperback and Kindle formats, or use the link on my website.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, and I always welcome your comments. You can make them on my website or on my YouTube channel or on my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word”.

That’s it for this week so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Tazria 2022 (When she conceives) Leviticus 12 – 13

We now begin to move from the laws of kashrut to the laws of cleanliness. These two chapters cover the topic of cleanliness for a woman after giving birth, and for tzara’at, or leprosy (actually, it could also mean some other form of skin disease or mold).

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Without going into the details, women become unclean, ceremonially, after giving birth by means of the bodily secretions that occur as a result of the birth. There were two different times periods she had to wait before she was to make a sacrifice to be cleansed, depending on whether she gave birth to a boy or to a girl.

The rules for tzara’at are also very detailed: first the person goes to the Cohen for an inspection, cleans himself, is then separated from the camp for a week, and after the 7 days goes back for inspection. These rules also apply to any clothing that has tzara’at (except the clothing is locked away).

If the boils or sores do not go away, that person is unclean and remains separated, outside the main camp until such time, if any, the sores disappear. If the clothing doesn’t appear to be cleaned of the disease, it is burned.

If the sores do disappear, the process of inspection, waiting period, and re-inspection happen all over again. This time, if the Cohen determines the disease is gone, the person cleans him/herself, performs the sacrifice, and then is allowed back into the society.

There are two main arguments for these regulations: the hygienic and the levitical.

The hygienic argument is that these rules were given by God in order to maintain the general health of the population, keeping people from becoming infectious and possibly creating a plague.

I can understand God wanting to prevent someone causing a plague; reading the Tanakh, it seems to me that plagues are one of God’s favorite punishments, and I don’t blame him for not wanting to share that with some mere human.

The levitical argument is that the rules and regulations about cleanliness are religious in nature, dealing more with spiritual defilement than physical sickness. Those who were unclean were forbidden from entering the Sanctuary because their physical uncleanliness would also represent their spiritual uncleanliness, which would defile the Sanctuary.

God is very clear throughout the Torah that only those who were clean could come into his presence.

Now, these two apparently opposing arguments are, in fact, not exclusive but inclusive. Being infected with a contagious disease is a really good reason to be separated from the population, and as such, not allowed into the Sanctuary where people are gathered in prayer. And even when cleansed of the physical disease, the sacrifice is required to bring that person back into spiritual communion with God after having been physically separated from God’s presence (in the Sanctuary).

So what does it come down to? If I am muddy, I am dirty, but does that make me unclean according to the Torah?

No, it doesn’t, but you should clean up before going to Shul, that’s for sure!

The clean and unclean regulations did not apply so much to everyday living, but to being allowed into the Sanctuary. They were designed not just to help maintain a healthy population, but to also prevent any defilement of the holy things.

Holiness means to be separated: the holy is separated from the common, and in the same manner, the (spiritually) unclean is separated from the (spiritually) clean.

God tells us what he considers to be clean and unclean, and if we do not want to be separated from God, then we need to understand the difference and how to be cleansed when we become unclean.

Through Yeshua, the need to bring an animal to the Sanctuary to present as a sacrifice is no longer necessary, but we still need to obey the laws. So, if you have a bodily secretion, wash yourself and change your clothes, then in the evening (which for Jews is the next day) you will be clean and can go to the Temple. However, if you are a woman and in your time of Nidah (menstrual cycle), technically, you should not go to your house of worship until after the cycle is completed and you bathe, in accordance with the rules in this parashah.

NOTE: The bath that men and women take in order to become ceremonially clean is called the Mikvah. The baptism, which is not a ceremonial cleansing but a physical representation of a spiritual change, is called a T’villa. Yochanon the Immerser (John the Baptist) had people undergo a T’villa, not a Mikvah.

Do you know why Orthodox men will not shake hands with a woman or take something from her hand? It’s because they do not know if she is in her time of Nidah. It is not a form of abasement or disrespect, it is simply self-protection because if she is “unclean”, then touching her or taking something from her will transmit her uncleanliness to them.

Whether or not you obey these rules is up to you, just as it is with anything God says we should do in the Torah. But if you decide to ignore them, remember this: God didn’t give us the Torah so we could ignore it, or pick-and-choose what we wanted to do, and Yeshua never told anyone to ignore anything his father said to do.

God gave us commandments to live by. In Deuteronomy 28, he promises to bless us when we obey, and that we will be cursed when we disobey: just a little something to think about next time someone tells you that you don’t have to do any of that “Jewish” stuff.

Thank you for being here, and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, buy my books, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word (please make sure you read and agree to the rules).

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Shemini 2022 (Eighth) Leviticus 9 – 11

In these chapters we read about how on the 8th day, Moses called Aaron and his sons to make sacrifice for themselves, then (having been cleansed by means of their sacrifice) to make sacrifice for the people. Moses explains that when doing things in this manner the Lord will then appear to them.

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Aaron did as Moses commanded, which was in accordance with the instructions God gave to Moses, and after the sacrifices had been performed and the meat and fat laid upon the altar, God sent fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice in the presence of all the people. When the people saw this, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Now we come to a sad event, caused by what the rabbis assume was jealousy fueled by drink: Aaron’s two eldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, put fire and incense in their censors (fire which was not from the altar) and made offering to the Lord. This was not only wrong, but sinful because they were not doing the right thing the right way, and so God punished them by sending his fire to destroy them. As sad as this was, Moses told Aaron that God said through those who are nigh unto him he will be sanctified, and in front of the people he will be glorified, meaning that those who serve God must maintain a higher level of obedience, and through their proper service they will glorify God before all the people.

As such, when Nadab and Abihu offered strange (unjustified and improper) fire before God, they neither sanctified nor glorified God, as their (assumed) purpose was to glorify themselves in showing that they also could do what their father was doing.

The last chapter in this parashah is the law of Kashrut, the kosher laws. In this chapter God tells us, very simply, what we may eat and what we may not eat. Consequently, you could say this chapter identifies what is “food” and what isn’t.

My message for this parashah is pretty much the same one I always give when we are covering the Kosher laws, or for that matter, any commandment, ordinance, regulation, or law that God gives that doesn’t have a simple, easy-to-understand explanation.

And that message is this:

If you don’t understand why God commands you to do something, you aren’t supposed to.

God doesn’t have to explain himself to you, or to me, or to anyone. The hard truth of the matter is that it comes down to that little, five-letter word that Jews and Christians throw around so much, without really understanding what it means: F-A-I-T-H.

It is really so simple. There is no need to complicate things, although complicating things is what humans love to do. We can’t just obey, we have to know why we should obey.

OK, here’s the best reason you can have to obey: God promises you will be blessed when you obey him. You can find a very detailed listing of all the blessings you receive when you obey God in Deuteronomy 28.

True faith is not just accepting, or even believing, but acting upon that acceptance and belief throughout your life. Just as Yaakov says in his letter to the Believers, faith without works is dead (James 2:14). That means no matter how faithful you think you are, if you aren’t doing things in your everyday life that demonstrate that faith, you are lying.

And the way to demonstrate faith is to do as God said you should do, faithfully believing that whatever God says to do is because he only wants the best for you.

This is the ultimate proof of one’s faith- obeying without question.

I don’t need to know why I can have a lamb sandwich anytime I want to, but if I want pork rinds while watching TV that is forbidden.

I don’t need to understand why God says some animals are clean and all others are unclean.

I don’t need to understand why some fish are good to eat and others aren’t.

What I DO need to know is what God tells me to do. I don’t need to know why.

So, either you trust God to have your best interests at heart, or you don’t.

Either you believe that God knows what he is doing, or you don’t.

Either you want to earn blessings, or you don’t.

Either you follow God’s rules or you follow human rules.

The bottom line is this: you aren’t supposed to understand why God tells you what to do, but you are supposed to obey him.

Thank you for being here, and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and my YouTube channel, buy my books and share them with others, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (please make sure you read and agree to the rules).

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Tzav 2022 (Give an order) Leviticus 6 – 8

God continues to explain the sacrificial system rules to Moses. He gives the instructions for the burnt offering, the meal offering, the guilt offering, the peace and thanks offerings, and we end with the consecration of the priests being performed.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The parashah has many details about these sacrifices: what to wear, how to be cleansed, the type of bread to use, and many other fine details. So many details that you would think this is one of the most important things to do in order to be obedient to the Lord.

But let’s look at the Haftorah portion, which starts with Jeremiah 7:21.

God states that his commandments weren’t just to sacrifice, but to walk in his ways so that things will go well with us.

We see this same message throughout the Prophets:

Going through the motions of sacrifice aren’t as important as living the
way God wants us to live in our daily activities.

In other words, it is obedience to all that God says regarding worship and interpersonal relationships that matters to God.

God isn’t interested in sacrifice if there is no heartfelt repentance behind it. Through the prophets, God constantly tells the people that their sacrifices, although being made in accordance with the rules, mean nothing to him because there is no real intention to repent behind them.

People who say they are good Christians (or Jews, for that matter) because they go to church/shul every Sabbath, tithe, and are active members of the Men’s or Woman’s Club think that they are fine with God, but every other day they do whatever their sinful desires tell them to do.

People go to confession, tell their dirty little secrets to the Priest, recite the “Ah Father’s” and “Hail Mary’s”, drop a few bucks in the Collection Box and then go home to do drugs, have sex out of wedlock, eat pork rinds while watching the game, or cheat on their taxes.

Sacrifice without repentance is useless.

Calling on the Name of the Lord without repentance is useless.

Asking for forgiveness in Yeshua’s (Jesus) name with repentance is useless.

And living your life unrepentant is never, ever going to get you to heaven.

And how do we show true repentance?

By the way you live your life outside of the church or synagogue.

And that way is to follow God’s instructions. And, if you want to know where those are, look into the first five books of the Bible.

And I ain’t talkin’ about the 4 Gospels and Acts, I am talking about the TORAH!

There is no other place anywhere between Genesis and Revelation where God gives direct dictation to anyone regarding how he wants things to be done, except in the Torah. What Shaul (Paul) says, what Kefa (Peter) says, what Yochanon (John) says, what Yacov (James) says, or what any human being says is not more important than, or can overrule what God says.

Shaul wrote to Gentiles who were learning how to live as God wants us to live, and since it was such a different lifestyle for them, he brought them along in stages, step by step, precept-by-precept, and James (Acts 15) suggested they start small and learn the rest of what they need to do as they continue to attend Shabbat services.

The bottom line is that God gave us instructions how to worship him and how to treat each other, and the sacrificial system is the means for us to be forgiven when we fail to do as God said (we call that “sin”).

But what this Haftorah portion says, as well as so many other places in the Books of the Prophets, is that sacrifice without repentance, which is demonstrated through how we live our daily lives, means nothing to God.

In fact, God says through Isaiah (Isaiah 1:11-14) that he gets no pleasure from the blood of bulls and goats and that the people should stop bringing their worthless grain offerings. He goes as far as to say they are like disgusting incense to him! He says he can’t stand evil together with their assemblies, and when they spread out their hands to him, he will hide his face and not listen to them.

Wait a minute! Something’s not right here…how could God, totally trustworthy to do as he says he will do and incapable of lying, refuse to do as he says he will, which is to forgive us when we sacrifice to him and save us when we call on his Name?

The answer is that it isn’t God who is lying and not doing as he said he would, it is US!

We are to come before God repentant and willing to do t’shuva (to turn, as in turning from sin), but when we are just going through the motions, God knows it and we are the ones who are not keeping our side of the covenant.

So be a good Christian and go to church on Sunday, then steal paper products and pens from your office on Monday; be a good Jew and go to Shul on Saturday, then eat pork sausages with Canadian bacon for breakfast on Sunday.

We are to do as God says ALL THE TIME, and when we do as he says ALL THE TIME, then we get blessed: it doesn’t work the other way around.

Yes, the parochet was torn from top to bottom, indicating that salvation comes from God to us, but not until after we send up repentance, heartfelt t’shuvah, and demonstrate it through our daily activities which are to be in accordance with how God said we should act.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word”.

I would also appreciate it if you would buy the books I have written- if you like what you get here, you will like the books, too.

And remember- I always welcome your comments… C’mon, let’s drash!

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah V’yikra 2022 (And he called) Leviticus 1 – 5

Moses is instructed by God to teach the people the rules for the different sacrifices to be made. These include the burnt, meal, peace, sin, and guilt offerings.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The types of animals and foodstuffs that are acceptable are outlined, as well as the procedures and requirements which the High Priest and the people must follow.

This book is the central book of the Torah, and was called Torah Cohanim (The Book of the Priests). It covers two essential aspects of righteous living: Sacrifice and Holiness.

The sacrifice chapters teach us how we can re-commune with God after sinning: sin separates us from God, but we can find forgiveness through repentance and sacrifice, which cleanses us, making it possible to again come into the presence of the Lord.

The chapters regarding holiness deal with what we should eat and the types of intimate personal relationships that are proper, culminating with the Day of Atonement. It also deals with certain physiological conditions that can render a person unclean (tzara’at, bodily emissions, childbirth, etc.).

There are 29 chapters in this book, so somewhere in Chapter 14 we come to the center of the book that is the center of the Torah. And what does that chapter cover?

It talks about the cleansing from tzara’at, otherwise known as leprosy.

Leprosy was a very nasty thing, not just for the physical deterioration it caused, but that it also required separating the individual from the community. That person had to indicate they were unclean and were not allowed to enter the sanctuary. Their disease kept them separated from society, and even from worshiping where God placed his name.

That means that they could not bring a sacrifice to the Tent of Meeting (later to the temple), therefor they could not be forgiven of their sins.

Like I said, it was a nasty thing.

Yet, there was always a chance they might become clean, again. When they first see the tzara’at, they go to the Cohen (priest) who, by following the instructions in these chapters, determines if it is leprosy or just some rash. Once it is determined to be leprosy, the individual is exiled from the camp and stays outside the camp until the tzara’at is gone. If it does clear up, the person goes to the Cohen who examines them; if the tzara’at is gone, the individual can again join the community (after confirmation the disease doesn’t return for a week, and after they perform a sacrifice which, being cleansed, they can now do). Now that they are again a member of the community they can worship in the sanctuary, which means they can obtain forgiveness.

So, what I find interesting is that sin is like a spiritual tzara’at: it separates us from God’s presence, and it also separates us from the community of Believers. When we sin we must repent and show our tzara’at (sin) to the Cohen, which is a formal confession. Unlike within Roman Catholicism, where you go into a booth, ask a priest to hear your confession, then ask him for forgiveness, we confess our sins to the one and only High Priest, Yeshua, who will take our request to God.

God is the only one who can forgive sins, and when we ask for his forgiveness through Yeshua, we will be forgiven.

I like this idea of the central book of the Torah being centered on cleanliness. I see the entire message of God’s word to be one of holiness (Be thou holy, as I am holy), and the means of being holy, which is to be clean both physically and spiritually, is covered in Leviticus.

If you haven’t read the Torah, or maybe just gone through it, sort of scanning the parts you find interesting, this is one book I suggest you do not skip through.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages, subscribe to my YouTube channel and website (they are different lists), join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word”, and remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Pekudey 2022 (Accounts) Exodus 38:21 – 40

These final chapters of the Book of Exodus relate the details of the Tabernacle, how everything was done exactly as Moses had directed, which God had shown him, and when it was all done, Moses blessed the people.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

God tells Moses to erect the Tabernacle (also known as the Tent of Meeting) on the first day of the first month, which was in the second year after leaving Egypt and 9 months after coming to Mount Sinai. The work on the tent took 4 months.

The High Priest, Aaron, is anointed and so are his sons, and after the work was all done and the Ark of the Covenant placed in the Holy of Holies, the shekinah glory of the LORD filled the tent, so much so that Moses was not able to enter it.

As we always say at the end of a book of the Torah:

Chazak, Chazak, v’nit Chazek!!

(Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened).

There is much in this book to wonder about.

Did the Jews really see the glory of God on Sinai, or was it just a meteorological event?

Did Moses’ face really shine?

Did the Red Sea really split open or did the tide just go out?

Were the Jewish people really ever enslaved in Egypt?

Many people can look to the events in Exodus- in fact, throughout the Bible- and doubt that they occurred as stated. It is very easy to view the Torah miracles with modern “eyes”, now that we are all knowledgeable in science. So, using science to explain events, people may be able to say, in a scholarly manner, that the Nile turned to blood because of a silt deposit issue that happened upstream. That then caused the fish to die, causing the frogs to leave the water, causing the flies and other insects to gather, and those insects would bite the people and cattle causing the boils and sores, etc.

It is easy to discard the miracles that God performed by explaining them away with scientific reasoning.

But does explaining how a miracle could have happened make it any less of a miracle? After all, even if we know why the Nile turned red, didn’t something, somewhere have to happen first?

If the Nile turned red because of something that happened upstream, such as an abundance of silt being dislodged and travelling downstream changing the color of the water, or some fungus or algae growth turning the waters red, didn’t something have to send the silt or put the algae there?

Where did the algae come from, in the first place?

This is the problem with science- it explains how things happen, but it doesn’t explain how the thing happening started.

The Big Bang Theory about the universe was proven by the discovery of radio waves coming from space, which represented an extreme release of radioactivity (as from a gigantic explosion) after billions of years of half-life decomposition. So, does that mean God didn’t create the universe? I mean, someone had to light that fuse for the explosion, right?

Look at life on earth. We have fossil proof that there have been lower forms of life that have gradually, over millions of years become more advanced. Science calls it evolution, which in plain English means accidental mutations that have increased the survivability of the species.

But why not Intelligent Design? My belief is that God created different life forms, at different times, and has allowed some to die out and others to remain. In order to make the remaining species capable of living in a changing environment, he “tweaked” their DNA a bit.

Doesn’t that better explain how so many different life-forms have succeeded in surviving? How many times have you heard of a mutation, other than the X-Men, that actually made the mutated animal stronger? How many mutations that we have seen in modern times have been beneficial?

None that I know of.

Anyone can argue against the Bible, and make it sound reasonable. The issue really isn’t about whether or not everything stated in the Bible is absolutely accurate, although the Bible has been proven to be an accurate historical document, with much of its narrative being verified by archaeological evidence.

No. The issue is not biblical accuracy or definitive proof of the events that are related in the Bible. The issue always comes down to one of faith.

James says that faith is believing in things that are unseen and unproven (Hebrews 11:1), and I have often stated that faith is a choice.

I was unsure for most of my life- the first 40 years or so, and when I finally decided I was going to make up my mind about God, his messiah, and all that stuff, after listening to people and reading a Messianic New Covenant, I chose to believe that what I read is true. I chose to believe in God; I chose to believe that Yeshua is my Messiah; and I have since chosen to remain faithful to my Jewish upbringing by remaining obedient to God’s instructions in the Torah, rejecting much of what traditional Christianity has taught about the Torah being only for Jews and not for those who are Born Again. .

And I choose to be this way, despite the fact that my fellow Jews say I can’t be Jewish if I believe in Jesus and Christians tell me I can’t be saved if I still do all that “Jewish” stuff.

So read Exodus and revel in the miraculous ways that God saved his people, giving them the way to live and worship in order to walk the path of righteousness.

Or, read it with a skeptical and cynical mindset, explaining the miracles away with scientific hoo-hah and denying the divine interventions.

As for me, I choose to believe in God, to believe what I read in this book of the Bible to be accurate and true, and to faithfully maintain this position no matter how “sensible” arguments against it may sound.

And I unwaveringly choose to be a Torah observant Jew while proclaiming and accepting that Yeshua is my Messiah.

To me, with Jews on one side denying me my Jewish heritage and Christians on the other side denying me my salvation through Messiah, I must be on a very narrow path leading to a very skinny gate.

And if so, then I am on the right path.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to my YouTube channel and my ministry website. While on the website, please buy my books. Also, on Facebook like my page and join my discussion group called “Just God’s Word” (please read and accept the rules).

Oh, yes, of course please share these messages with everyone to help this ministry continue to grow.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah V’Yakhel 2022 (And he assembled) Exodus 35 – 38:20

By the way, in case anyone noticed that my usual Thursday message wasn’t posted yesterday, it’s because when you are retired, every day is a weekend. If it wasn’t for the letter on the top of my pill holder that I see when having my coffee, I wouldn’t know what day of the week it is. So, yesterday, somehow I thought it was Friday when I started to do my message and by the time I finished the message and realized it was Thursday, well, I figured I had done enough for one day.

This parashah brings us to the final part of the Book of Exodus, which is a detailed description (and I mean, DETAILED!) of the work done building the Tabernacle, also called the Tent of Meeting.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

We are told that Bezalel and Oholiab have been divinely gifted with all the knowledge necessary for the manufacturing of the articles needed, as well as the tent coverings, embroidery work, bronze work, engraving, and they can make the incense, as well.

The first thing we are told, before the details about the construction work, is that when Moses asked the people to give the materials needed for the building of the Tabernacle, they gave so much that the workers had to tell Moses to have them stop, because not only was there enough to do the work, there was way too much!

The next chapters describe the actual work being done, including the number of loops on each curtain, what the curtains are made of, the length and breadth of the supporting timbers, and just about any detail of the Tabernacle construction you can imagine.

This parashah is one of the more boring things to go through when reading the Bible.

Yes, I said boring, and I mean it!

This isn’t the only boring part: in Ezekiel 41-43:17, we are told about every square inch of the Temple being measured by the angel. I also find going through the diatribe in much of Job to be somewhat of a drag to read.

There is also the repetition of the gifts brought to the Tabernacle by the tribes, each tribe giving the exact same thing, but still, we have to read about every item, from each tribe (Numbers 7).

Oh, let’s not forget the first 7 chapters of 1 Chronicle, which tells the lineage of each and every tribe of Israel, starting with the sons of Jacob.

Yet, as boring and difficult as these (and other passages) are to go through, I still read every word. Why? Because I never know what God will reveal to me through his word.

How many times have you read something, over and over and over- then one day you read it and BAM!!! – something wonderful is revealed to you? You suddenly see a relationship to another part of the Bible you never noticed, or maybe you recognize a message that is appropriate to your life right now that never really was so appropriate before, but now makes a significant difference in how you see things.

One of the most wonderful things about reading the Bible, and I mean the entire Bible (Genesis through Revelation), is that one day, out of the blue, you read something that makes perfect sense to you and you think to yourself, “Why didn’t I ever see this before?”

So today’s message is simple: don’t shortcut the Bible.

Don’t get one of those “Passage-a-Day” calendars because all you ever get, really, when taking a sentence or passage out of context (which is what those daily devotional things do) is most likely going to be a misunderstanding of what God meant. But, if you really, really have to have one of those daily devotional ditties, PLEASE! -open your Bible and read the entire paragraph to make sure that you understand what that passage really means.

Read the Bible every day, and if you find it difficult to find the time, do what I do- leave it in the bathroom. That is the one place I know that every day I will be spending a few minutes all alone, and no one will even want to be there with me, so I can read a chapter or two in complete silence and privacy.

I think of it this way: God is always on his throne, and by reading my Bible in the bathroom, I read about God on his throne while I am on mine.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website (messianicmoment.com) and to my YouTube channel, as well. And, while you are on my website, please consider buying my books.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!