Parashah Bo 2021 (Go) Exodus 10 – 13:16

As we continue with the plagues against Egypt, God sends locusts, three days of darkness, and the final and most terrible plague, the death of the firstborn.

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Before the angel of death passes, Pharaoh tells Moses that the next time Moses sees his face, he will die, and Moses says that is fine with him, but since Pharaoh has changed his mind all these times and still refuses to let the Israelites go, the final plague will be the death of all the firstborn of Egypt, from the lowliest animal to the son of the Pharaoh, himself.

God gives Moses the instructions regarding the lamb’s blood and how the Seder is to be performed. He tells Moses this is the first day of their year from now on, and that when they leave they are to ask for jewels and valuables from the Egyptians, who were more than happy to give so long as the people leave.

After the firstborn die, and Pharaoh tells Moses that all the people and all they have are to leave his land, God tells Moses that from now on every firstborn child or animal is to belong to God, as redemption for all the firstborn God took away from the Egyptians. Later we will see that this redemption was made through a tax.

I wanted to talk about how God kept his word to Moses when in Exodus 12:12 he said he would bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, as well as Pharaoh, but as I read through the parashah something else “hit” me, so I will talk about that, but first, it is really interesting to see how God judged the false gods through the plagues.

Some of you may already know this, but I will present it quickly for those that aren’t familiar with the many gods the Egyptians have worshipped.

Egyptian godRealmPlague
Ra / AtumSunDarkness
GebSnakesMoses’ staff
ApisCattle / NileNile turns to blood
Cattle Blight
HequetFrog-headed goddessFrogs
Isisprotection from diseaseboils
AnubisUnderworld / deathdeath of the first born
PharaohDivinely empowered to protect and maintain orderAll the plagues

As you can see, these gods of the Egyptian polytheistic religion were, in one way or another, shown to be less powerful than the God of the Israelites.

That is interesting and of value for study, but there was something, as I mentioned earlier, that I find to be a spiritual message in what God told the Israelites to do, specifically regarding the feast of unleavened bread (Hag HaMatzot.)

As most of us know, chametz (leavening) represents sin and the feast of unleavened bread begins on the night of the Seder, lasting seven days. Seven, the number of completion, is also a special number with regards to the cleansing rituals which are described in Leviticus. When becoming unclean due to a discharge or after a woman’s’ time of Nidah (menstrual cycle) or after a skin disease clears up, the waiting period from the time of becoming unclean until being declared clean, after being inspected by the Cohen, is seven days.

I believe that God decreed Hag HaMatzot is to last seven days because it is representative of them being cleansed of the sin of Egypt that was on them all, for many of them had adopted the Egyptian lifestyle, diet, and even their religion. Now, this shouldn’t be a big surprise because they had been slaves for 400 years, but still and all, now they were being brought back into a relationship with the God of their Fathers, and he didn’t want any of the spiritual stench of slavery on them. By removing the chametz from their diet, they were undergoing both a physical and spiritual cleansing of the sin they had become accustomed to while in Egypt.

The Passover sacrifice is a thanksgiving sacrifice, not a sin sacrifice, and the purpose of this type of sacrifice is to bring us back into a relationship with God. The fasting of anything with chametz cleanses us, spiritually as well as physically, so that our communion can be complete.

Passover is coming around, again, and when you have your Seder and spend the next week eating matzabrie, matzo sandwiches, and other matzo recipes (my favorite is matzo with butter and salt), remember that you are not just obeying God, but you are cleansing yourself of both physical and spiritual chametz.

One last thought: generally, before the Seder, the Rabbi will inspect the home to ensure that all the chametz is removed, which reminds me of the Cohen’s inspection before someone was allowed back into the camp.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Is Hate Stronger than Love?

I know, I know- love conquers all. Yeshua and God are love, and nothing is stronger than they are, so the obvious answer is that love is stronger than hate.

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We are told in the Bible that even sinners do good things for the ones they love (Luke 6:32) and that we should love each other as ourselves. So, since sinners love, and righteous people love, then love must be stronger, right?

Fine. But, if that is true, then how come there is so much hatred in the world?

And if we are to love others as we love ourselves, what about those people who actually hate themselves? You know who I mean- people who do things that are harmful to their health and refuse to stop doing it; people who purposefully say and do things that ostracize them from the general population (but not by being holy); people who reject friends and family in order to hoard animals until their homes are a health hazard. These people don’t love themselves, so how can they really love others?

There are many people who often prefer to hate and keep hatred in their hearts by refusing to forgive others. And, as much as I hate to say it (no pun intended), I count myself as one of that crowd.

I know the importance of forgiving, and I am much better at it than I ever was, thanks be to God and Yeshua, but I am still angry and sometimes feel the need for vengeance on some who have been unfair and very hurtful to me in the past.

We all know there is a very thin line between love and hate: these have got to be the strongest emotions humans have. If you want to see how thin that line is, go ahead and watch a couple of episodes of the old TV show “Love Boat”: no matter how much the couple hates each other when the cruise starts, in the end, they are all lovey-dovey and the world is wonderful.

Seriously, hatred can stem from love, but I don’t think it works the other way around. That old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt” is based in truth. Sometimes, what we love about someone is not enough, and that love can turn into hatred: maybe not the “I need to kill you!” kind of hatred, but the kind where one no longer loves the other and must get away from the other person because the relationship has become poisonous.

Maybe the issue is not whether hate is stronger than love, or love is stronger than hate, but that they can be equally strong, and one needs something extra to overcome the other?

The quickest way to generate hatred in someone is to do them harm, either physically, emotionally, or socially. And, I believe (maybe you’ll agree) when we hate we leave less room in our heart for love. It’s as James says in James 3:11, where he says a well cannot give forth both fresh and salty water. The more we hate, the less we are able to love, and the more we love, the less we will hate, but in the long run, I believe that hatred will fill a heart faster than love will.

Why do I say this? Because I observe the world, I see people, I study history, I read the Bible, and I am not so naïve as to wish for something that is obviously not true.

But let’s go back to what I just was thinking, about that something “extra” that might give the edge to one or the other. I think I know what that is…it’s forgiveness!

I have seen how forgiveness can overcome hatred. In fact, in those “Love Boat” episodes, it was often enough forgiveness that changed their hearts towards each other.

Actually, now that I think about it, forgiveness is an expression of love, isn’t it?

Hatred is pretty much a simple thing, but love is complex. I don’t think we can love something about someone we hate, but I know, for a fact, that we can hate something about someone we love. And how is it possible to hate something about someone without it turning into hating them?

Because of forgiveness!

So, I have come to the conclusion that forgiveness is the thing that makes love stronger than hatred. Hatred is a part of who we are and must continuously be fought against. It is, like sin, crouching at our door always there, waiting to take us over, and when the Enemy comes (as he has done in the past) he will not take over through love but through hatred. He did it with the Crusades, the Inquisition, in Nazi Germany, and today he is doing it right here in America!

Throughout history, when people were strongly bonded together, it has been hatred that is the glue the Enemy used to form that bond.

God hates sin but loves the sinner, and he is not just willing to forgive, but he desires to do so (Ezekiel 18:23), so to overcome hatred, which only reduces our ability to love, we need to exercise forgiveness.

Hatred is the weapon of the Enemy and love is the defense; but, without forgiveness, love isn’t enough. Maybe that’s why we are commanded to forgive because God knows that without forgiveness, love cannot conquer hate.

Thank you for being here and please don’t forget to subscribe (click the button in the right margin) and also use the link above to go to my YouTube channel and subscribe there, too (click the Messianic Moment icon) because these are different lists. Subscribing only means you will be contacted when I post- no selling of names or anything like that.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Is Prayer Like Playing “Simon Says”?

When you pray, do you add “In Jesus’s name” or “In the name of Jesus, I pray”, or something similar? Maybe you like the Jewish version, “B’shem Yeshua!”?

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In the Gospels, there is a place where Yeshua says that whatever we ask for, in his name, we shall receive, so long as we faithfully believe that we will receive it.

Over the years I have heard and prayed with others, and so often I hear people praying and invoking the name of the Messiah, in whichever form they know it, over and over. I have heard people pray to God to give thanks for food, and after thanking God they say “In Jesus’s name”. My question is this: Why do you have to invoke the name of the Messiah if all you are doing is thanking God? I mean, if I am giving thanks, why do I have to do it in Yeshua’s name? He never said to use his name every time we pray, only when we are asking for something.

Praying to God should be heartfelt and honest, and to invoke the name of the Messiah with every prayer, whether asking or thanking and to do so over and over again, isn’t really what (I believe) Yeshua meant when he said to pray in his name.

Do you recall the childhood game “Simon Says”? You needed to be very careful to do what the leader did, so long as he said “Simon says to …”, and if you did it without him saying “Simon says”, then you lost and were out of the game.

I think sometimes people pray like they were playing Simon Says. They use the name of Yeshua over and over, for each and every single request, like if they didn’t then God would refuse them.

Oh, Lord, in Yeshua’s name, help me do better at work (God thinks to himself, “OK, I will”), and Oh Lord, in Yeshua’s name, help me to be a better husband (God thinks, “That’s a good one, sure I will”), and Lord, God, please help me to be a better father to my children (God thinks, “Hah! You didn’t say ‘In Yeshua’s name’, so NO!…you’re on your own!”)

Of course, this is a comical example of what I am talking about, and I doubt that God would refuse a legitimate, heartfelt prayer whether or not we asked in Yeshua’s name. I also think that God would not have a problem with us waiting until the end of the prayer, at which time we would say something like, “All that I have asked, I ask for in the name of Yeshua, the Messiah.”

Now, to be honest, I often find myself doing this exact thing- asking and invoking Yeshua’s name more than once in the same prayer. I feel there are some things that are just so important to me, I need that little, extra oomph to my request, maybe just so that I can convince myself that I really emphasize the importance of this, particular request. And, when I do that, I realize how silly I am thinking that God doesn’t know how important it is to me.

Prayer is something we do that we don’t really need to do because God knows our heart, and he knows what we need, and he knows the best time to give it to us. But, then again, he wants us to pray to him because when we do, at least for myself, it strengthens my bond with him. It lets me feel that connection, and when he answers my prayers, I know that he listened. And when he touches me I know he is there, and that we are bonded.

There is NOTHING in the world as wonderful, as emotionally fulfilling, or as loving as feeling the touch of God during prayer. And if we didn’t pray, we wouldn’t ever have that.

Asking in the name of Yeshua is not meant as some qualifier for acceptance, but as a means to give glory to God, through the glory he gave to his son, the Messiah. I know that sounds like circular logic, but here is how it works: first of all, we should always give all the glory to God. When Yeshua told us that when we ask for something in his name, and if we faithfully believe we will receive it (indicating our faith in Yeshua) then it will be done, that glorifies him (because his name was powerful), but at the same time, it glorifies God because God honored the word of his son.

So, by praying in the name of Yeshua, we give glory to both Messiah and God, but the main glory goes to God because, ultimately, he is the one answering the prayer.

It’s all a little confusing, I know, but the point is that God knows what we want and what we mean and what we really need, and when we pray and invoke Yeshua’s name, it doesn’t have to be for every single request, done over and over, and it certainly doesn’t have to be done when we are giving thanks to the Lord. In fact, invoking Yeshua’s name when praying thanks to God is almost a waste! Yeshua’s name is powerful, and it is influential, so why use it when we aren’t asking for anything?

The biggest mistake I have seen when Believers pray is that they go beyond what Yeshua said, and instead of praying to God invoking Yeshua’s name, they pray to Yeshua. Or when giving thanks, they give thanks to Yeshua instead of to God. He never said to pray to him, he never accepted people giving him the glory or the honor (he always gave that to God), and he certainly wouldn’t want us to pray to anyone else like so many do when they pray to a saint. When Yeshua said “When you pray…” he meant praying to God; praying to anyone or anything else is idolatry.

There is one last thing we need to remember: praying for riches, material rewards, or sinful things will not be honored. When Yeshua talked about praying, he was talking about asking for spiritual growth, real needs (such as health and forgiveness, not toys and fun-to-have junk), or when acting as an intercessor for others. The things we are to ask from God are to be those things that are godly, spiritually rewarding, edifying, and in accordance with the way God tells us we should live, which is found in the Torah. Those are the sorts of things we can faithfully expect to receive.

If you find yourself praying and asking in Messiah’s name often during the prayer, you don’t really need to do that- this isn’t Simon Says. God is understanding and knows your heart- just ask, with a contrite spirit and humility, for what you need, and when you are done, ask that God do this not because of your righteousness or worthiness, but because you are asking in Yehsua’s name so that by his righteousness and worthiness you may receive.

Praying in the name of Messiah Yeshua is sort of like knocking on the Speakeasy door, and when the little slot is opened, saying “Yeshua sent me.” so that you can gain entrance not because of who you are, but because of who he is.

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And remember that I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah V’ayra 2021 (And I appeared) Exodus 6:2 – 9

We now come to the time of judgment on Pharaoh and Egypt, which God pronounced and performed through the 10 Plagues.

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At first, God allowed Pharaoh to see his power with Moses’ staff turning into a snake, which the magicians of Egypt easily mimicked with their Black Magic. However, Moses’ snake ate their snakes, to show that they may be able to copy God’s power, but he is the most powerful.

As Pharaoh continues to refuse to allow the Israelites to sacrifice, God sends his plagues, each one becoming more severe than the one before it, not just testing the obstinacy of the pharaoh, but to show his authority and power over their gods.

First, the Nile turns to blood. Then the frogs, followed by gnats. With this third plague, the magicians are stumped, unable to create or stop it, and they now go to Pharaoh, convinced that God is superior and they tell him so.

With the fourth plague of flies, not only does God show his authority and power, but he ramps it up a bit, now separating his people in Goshen from the Egyptians, demonstrating without doubt that they are his chosen people and he can protect them. Next, the cattle of the Egyptians (but not of the Israelites) are stricken with disease and they all die.

The next two plagues, boils and hail that turns into fire, have destroyed not just cattle and people, but the crops of the Egyptians, as well.

You’ve got to ask, what the heck is wrong with the Pharaoh? I mean, really? His stubbornness has caused the people to suffer more than all the suffering they had ever undergone, and yet he doesn’t let the Israelites go. How could he be so cruel to his own people? Why didn’t he submit to the power of this remarkably powerful God?

Perhaps for the same reason that so many people do not submit to God, even to this day: they just don’t want to change what they have, or what they think they have.

Let’s take Pharaoh’s side for a moment: for generations, the Pharaoh was raised being told that he was a god. Although he never showed any magical or divine powers, he was convinced he was a god; and the people? Well, they were there to serve him. Let’s not forget that they were also his slaves. Remember how when Joseph was in charge, and the people were buying the stored grain during the 7-year famine? When they first ran out of money, they traded their cattle for grain, then their homes, their land, and in the end they became indentured to Pharaoh. There is nothing in the Torah to indicate that between the Pharaoh of Joseph and the Pharaoh of Moses that this condition changed. So, as far as Pharaoh was concerned, although you would think he should care about his people, again, his whole life they were nothing more than property to him.

Pharaoh was shown all the wonders of the power of God, and also that Moses was God’s representative, so as a politician, leader, and just someone with enough sechel (Hebrew for common sense) to see what was happening, he should have relented and let the people go, as Moses asked, three days into the desert to worship.

Now, here’s a question for you… did God cheat the Pharaoh?

Moses asked Pharaoh to allow the people to go three days into the desert to worship God (Exodus 8:23); Moses didn’t ask Pharaoh to release the people forever, he just said let us go into the desert to worship our God. All the way back in Exodus 4:1, all that Moses asked was to let the people go to the desert to hold a feast unto God. Even later, after the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh relents and says take everyone and everything to go worship God, but he never says don’t come back.

God never told Moses to ask that Pharaoh let the people go, forever.

But, from the very moment God chose Moses, he already planned to release the people forever, so why didn’t he send Moses to tell Pharaoh that he had to free the slaves? Moses never asked for freedom, just to be allowed to go into the desert to worship.

But it seems that Pharaoh knew their plan was to escape, and I say this because, after the flies, he says they can sacrifice, but only in the land of Egypt, and then when Moses says that isn’t good, Pharaoh says go, but not too far.

Later, in the following parashot, Pharaoh tries to negotiate with Moses, saying to go worship but leave the children, then to take the children but leave the cattle, so it seems to me that somewhere Pharaoh got the idea that once they were gone, they weren’t coming back.

I mean, who would want to go back to a life of cruel slavery, right?

But my point is, when all was said and done, God never had Moses say let my people go, forever, and I don’t see anywhere that Moses even implied the people would never come back.

I don’t know what this means if it even means anything. Again, it seems that God cheated Pharaoh, having Moses ask to allow them to go three days into the desert to worship, but never saying they wouldn’t come back. Why didn’t God have Moses, right from the git-go, tell Pharaoh, “Look- I’m God, I’m all-powerful, and these are my people. You’ve had them long enough, so let them go so I can fulfill my promise to their ancestors.”?

That would have been straight forward, completely truthful, and I think still would have allowed God the opportunity to kick Pharaoh’s butt because when given that demand, I can easily see Pharaoh replying with, “No way, Pal!”

So, nu? I have a question that I can’t answer; yet, maybe you can? Do you have any idea why God would not tell Pharaoh, straight-out, that he had to release the Israelites forever so that God could fulfill his promises to them?

Perhaps as we continue to read about this event we will receive some revelation to lead us to understanding why God handled things in this way.

For now, thank you for being here, and please subscribe, share these messages with others, and I always welcome (especially today!) your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

What Romans 14 Means

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Let me start off by saying that anyone who says what my title says, i.e. “What (something) means” is telling you what they think it means. That doesn’t make it true, but it isn’t automatically wrong, either. It is incumbent on you, the one receiving the message, to verify that what is being said is true and valid. And if that is too much work for you, then you are a fool and will probably end up being one of the first ones on the line to take the mark.

That’s a pretty rough start to my message, isn’t it? Well, sometimes people need to be reminded that it isn’t what they hear that matters as much as what they accept, and acceptance should only be based on good information, taken from the Bible and verified by yourself, asking God to show you what it means, for you.

So, now we can talk about Romans 14. This chapter is about judging based on what people eat or which days they celebrate. Shaul (Paul) says, and this is a very condensed version of his explanation, that so long as what people do is to honor the Lord, then no one should judge them. This is stated most clearly in Romans 14: 6-8, so let’s take a look at that (this is from the Complete Jewish Bible):

He who observes a day as special does so to honor the Lord. Also he who eats anything, eats to honor the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; likewise the abstainer abstains to honor the Lord, and he too gives thanks to God. For none of us lives only in relation to himself, and none of us dies only in relation to himself; for if we live, we live in relation to the Lord; and if we die, we die in relation to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord —

The rest of the chapter goes into a little more detail, further teaching us that when we judge someone based on what they believe they are doing to honor the Lord, God, but is different from what we believe honors God, then we are placing a stumbling block in their path to becoming holier.

He says the kingdom of God is not of food but of righteousness (Romans 14:17) so we shouldn’t be telling someone, regarding food or worship days, that what they do is bad when they believe it to be good, meaning that in their minds and hearts they are doing it to honor the Lord.

The real-life examples of people judging others wrongly are too often seen in postings on these discussion groups regarding what I consider to be the Big Three Issues:

  1. Which calendar is correct?;
  2. What is God’s name and how to use it?; and
  3. What days are to be celebrated?

I have seen people accuse others, others who are truly trying to worship God correctly, to be praying to the devil or celebrating a pagan holiday, or that when calling upon Jesus they are praying to a horse (yes, that has been there a few times.) They say doing these things dishonors God.

I have seen so many different people declare that only their calendar is correct, insinuating that if someone else uses a different calendar then they are sinning because they aren’t celebrating a Holy Day or the Shabbat correctly.

Really? How can anyone believe that God will reject someone celebrating, oh, let’s say, Yom Kippur, on the evening their Jewish calendar says it starts, because it may be a day or two off from the absolutely correct date measured from the very first Yom Kippur?

Is God really that anal-retentive? Is he more worried about us doing something on the absolutely correct date, or using the one and only absolutely correct pronunciation of his name? Or he is more concerned with the attitude of our heart? If I eat ham but try to love others, forgive and treat people the way that the Torah says I should, will God tell me to go to hell when I come before him because even though I tried my whole life to be as he says I should be, I ate ham?

I don’t think so. Maybe I will not be as honored in heaven as someone who did everything I did and never ate ham, but I will still be there.

How do I know this? Because Yeshua said so: in Matthew 5:17 Yeshua says that he did not come to abolish the Torah but to fulfill it (which means to interpret it correctly), and after saying that he adds in Matthew 5:19:

So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, nu! There you have it! Yeshua, himself, indicates that we may sin, and even teach others to do so, but we can still end up in the Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe, just maybe, do you think this is what Shaul is talking about here in Romans?

Here’s a hypothetical: if I eat ham because I have been taught (as many, many Christians have been for thousands of years) that the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) are not necessary for Gentile Believers to obey, I am in violation of the Torah. But, it is not my intention to sin: I am, in my heart and mind, a grateful believer in God and Messiah and in many other ways I try to be as God wants me to be. But I was taught Kosher isn’t required for Gentiles. And that was most likely taught to me by someone who also thought they were not doing anything against God.

Here we have people sinning and teaching others to sin, but not on purpose and not in their minds or hearts. These are the ones who will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

What Shaul is saying in Romans is that when someone does what they do to honor the Lord, then neither you nor I nor anyone should tell them they are wrong or try to stop them. If someone uses the title “God” or “Adonai”, but you believe people should always use the Holy Name for God and pronounce it as “Yahweh”, that’s fine for you and you have no right- in fact, you would be wrong- to correct them.

If you are biblically Kosher (as I am) and see someone pray before eating their dinner, which has an appetizer of Bang Bang Shrimp and the main course is lobster, instead of chiding them in your mind for violating God’s commandments, just eat your food and mind your own business.

We will all come before the Lord (this is also something Shaul points out) and have to give an account of ourselves, and it is up to the Lord, God Almighty to judge us.

Here’s a news flash, people: you ain’t HIM! So don’t judge ’cause you yourself will be judged the way you judge (Matthew 7:2); in other words, we should only worry about ourselves because that is more than enough for any of us to have to do.

Don’t miss the important difference between those who sin because they reject God or who say they worship God and sin just because they want to, from those who worship God but sin from ignorance or misguided teaching. The former will certainly be in hot water when they come before God, and the latter will be in heaven, but not as esteemed as those who have obeyed more faithfully to do as God told us to do in the Torah.

One last thing: you may be thinking that this isn’t fair! Maybe you would say to God, “I really tried hard to be a “good” Christian but I was taught that Kosher isn’t important and Christmas and Easter are fine. They said I didn’t have to celebrate any of those “Jewish” holidays, so why am I being treated as less than others in heaven? After all, it isn’t my fault- I did what my religious leaders told me to do.”

Well, sorry to say, it is your fault because you did what you were told without checking if it was right or wrong. God gave us the Torah, and that is the only place in the Bible where God tells us how to worship him and how to treat others- the rest of the Bible, from Joshua through Revelations, is essentially not much more than commentary. Even what Yeshua taught was what God had already said, but Yeshua taught the deeper, spiritual meaning of those commandments. The Letter to the Romans Shaul wrote, as well as his other letters, are designed to help Gentiles that didn’t know God, the Bible or the Jewish lifestyle to adapt to it.

So if you want to obey Shaul then treat others as you would want them to treat you (Leviticus 19:18) and stop judging others who are trying to honor God in the way they know or have been taught. Of course, it is OK to try to steer them in the right direction: after all, that is what this ministry is all about, but you will never hear me tell someone they must worship or pronounce or celebrate the way I believe they should. I will tell them what God says in the Torah and leave it up to them to decide whether they will listen to God or religion.

I’ll end with this: as I said, as Shaul said, as God has said, we will all have to come before his throne of judgment, and when we do if you try saying something like, “But that’s what they told me I should do.” I believe God will answer with something like this:

“I understand, my child, that is what they told you to do, but it’s what I say that counts!”

Thank you for being here and please subscribe here and on my YouTube channel, share these messages with everyone you know, and if you like what you hear consider buying my books because you will like them, too.

And remember- I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!