Parashah Vayyera 2021 (And he appeared) Genesis 18 – 22

In this parashah, we read about the three angels coming to Abraham and telling him that next year Sarah will have a son. They also tell him about their mission to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleads for the righteous men in the city (probably thinking about his nephew, Lot) and God allows Abraham to haggle with him, getting God to agree to not destroy the cities if only 10 righteous men are found there.

Well, we know that never happened, and as the angels literally pull Lot and his family away from the place, Lot’s wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt.

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Because Lot’s wife is dead, his two daughters decide that they will make sure his lineage doesn’t disappear, so they get him drunk and sleep with him, the oldest the first night and the youngest the second night, each becoming pregnant and bringing forth the kingdoms of the Moabites and the Ammonites.

Later, as Abraham enters the kingdom of Abimelech, we read how he pimped his wife, Sarah, to save his own life. Her true relationship with Abraham was soon discovered and God kept her from being defiled. When Abimelech, the king of Gerar learned of this deception, he asked Abraham why he did such a terrible thing, and Abraham excused his behavior saying he didn’t think anyone there feared God and would kill him to have Sarah as a wife. Abimelech gave Abraham sheep and goats to pay the bride’s price so that Sarah wasn’t shamed, but sent Abraham on his way.

Sarah gives birth to Isaac, as God had promised she would, but when Hagar’s son is found teasing Isaac, Sarah sends Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. God saves them from dying and promises Hagar that Ishmael will also be a great man and father of many nations because he is the son of Abraham.

Chapter 22 is known as The Akedah, the Binding of Isaac, and is considered by most to be a messianic passage indicating how God will sacrifice his own son, Yeshua the Messiah, in the future. The chapter retells the testing of Abraham’s faith in that God demands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son and the son of the promise. Abraham acts immediately to obey God, and only at the last moment is Abraham’s hand stayed and Isaac saved. A ram is caught in a bush, and Abraham sacrifices the ram instead of Isaac.

The parashah ends with Abraham going to settle in Beersheba.

    Here is an interesting thing you may not know: as a memorial to the ram that
    replaced Isaac, the shofar is usually made from a ram's horn instead of some 
    other clean animal's horn.  

Oy gevalt! There is just SO much in here I could spend a year talking about all that we can learn from this one parashah. But don’t worry- I am actually going to keep it short.

I want to talk about the dangers of “reading things” into what is written in the Bible. Too often people want the Bible to mean what they want it to mean, and to get that result they read between the lines, or conclude something that fits into the storyline but isn’t really justified by what is written.

A good example of what I am talking about is in this parashah, in fact, right at the beginning. But first, a quick background story.

When I was in Israel on a 10-day tour in 2016, the guide (who was terrific!) was telling us what the Bible says about each place we visited. As we were driving along one day, we were talking about Abraham being visited by the angels. The guide said that this visitation happened on the third day of Abraham’s circumcision, which is the most painful day. Yet, because Abraham was so humble and obedient, he was willing to get up, despite his pain, and make sure these visitors were treated correctly.

Well, I immediately asked if that was from the Talmud, which Yosi (the guide) confirmed. So this wasn’t a biblical story, or even mentioned at all in the Bible, but some Rabbi, at some time, decided that because the previous chapter ended with the circumcision of Abraham and his household, the visitation must have been right after that event. And, wanting to emphasize the holiness of Abraham, he created this storyline.

Well, we all know that the Bible is not always in chronological order, and even though this Talmudic story makes sense, it is NOT a biblical fact: it is something being read into the storyline from the Bible.

So what’s the problem? Does it really matter if Abe was hurting or not? Overall, no- it isn’t going to change anything if it was true or not, but there is an inherent danger to this sort of activity. When we make something we think might be into something that is, such as Yosi telling this as if it was a factual event from the Bible, then we are flirting with spiritual disaster.

Anyone who has been studying the Bible for a while will know when something someone says is in the Bible, isn’t, and they can correct that person (lovingly, of course.) But if you don’t know the Bible that well, which is the condition most people are in (yes, even Believers), then you can be easily misled. Religion is built on misleading people, and the fact there are so many different religions, each one having a different understanding of the Bible and what God says or doesn’t say and what is allowed and what is not, is proof of how easily people are misled.

At the bottom of my website home page, I quote Hosea, who said his people are destroyed by lack of knowledge.

Even well-meaning people, such as our guide, can mislead others away from the truth in the Bible to what they want the truth to be. I was with 22 other Believers, many of whom had been Born Again Christians for many years, some of whom were actually Ministers, and they didn’t have any idea that this story about Abraham wasn’t from the Bible! That scares the heck out of me…what about you?

So, with all the wonderful things that we can learn from this parashah, I am only going to give this one caveat: know the Bible!

Read the Bible, learn the Bible, study the Bible and be prepared to identify and correct anyone- no matter who that person is- when they teach something not found in the Bible.

You might just be saving a soul from damnation.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to my website and YouTube channel. While on the website, check out my books: I just published my 4th book, “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews, Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah”. I believe you will find it to be in line with today’s message because there are so many things people have been taught about Yeshua that are not biblically justified, but taught that way.

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

How Do We Show Humility When We Feel Offended?

Recently on my Facebook page (my personal page, not my ministry page), I posted something that while receiving confirmation from some, was offensive to others.

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I never intended to insult or offend anyone, and never even thought that anyone would feel that way since I was talking about how I feel.

Now, having learned something from that experience, I want to make sure I make this disclaimer: to those who may be reading this and recognize themselves, please do not take this as a chiding or insult or even meant to be about you, personally- it was the nature of your response which made me realize something about offending statements and humility, which is the other side of the coin from pridefulness. So, instead of feeling offended, again, please take this message as nothing more than what I think I have learned about myself.

So, what happened? I wrote how I don’t like hearing something that everyone is saying today, which reminds me of the movie “Demolition Man.” If you haven’t seen that movie, it is about a future despotic government run by a megalomaniac who is forcing people to live to his standards of social interaction. One of the things that they do is, upon greeting each other, say “Be well, Steven Bruck” and there is no physical contact allowed.

It is “Be well” saying hello and “Be well” saying goodbye, and so sickeningly sweet it makes you want to puke. What really gets my goat is that in the movie you can see that they say it without genuine feeling but as a conditioned response, which is the result of the government telling them how they should be.

My complaint was that I have been hearing people say “Be safe” whenever someone says they are going somewhere, as well as all over the TV and radio. This is, to me, just like what I see in the movie: we say it because we think we mean it, but in truth, we are being conditioned by the powers-that-be to create an environment where everyone is constantly forced to remember that there is a disease on the loose.

As I said in my post, I do appreciate it when people care about me and stated that I feel the term “Be safe” has become so passé that I prefer “Have a good time” or “Safe travels”, which is general enough to show concern for me without telling me to be safe (as if I wouldn’t be.)

After some of my friends told me they felt insulted or offended and told me they really mean it when they say that, I thought about my response to this greeting. Was I being prideful in saying how much I hated hearing that because I felt insulted and coerced into acting a certain way? Or were they being prideful in reacting insulted and defending the statement, as if this was directed at them, personally? I mean, I was talking about how I feel when people (not anyone in particular) tell me to be safe, so why would they take offense or feel the need to defend the statement?

I think the lesson for all of us here is to be willing to listen to what people say without personalizing it. Of course, the way we relate to the world is to take the words and actions of others and pass them through our own experience, so it is pretty much impossible to not feel something when someone does or says something that “hits home”, so to speak.

And that is where, I believe, we either react with humility or pridefulness. Humility will remind us that it is their issue, their feelings, and their experience that is the subject, and not ours. If someone is speaking in general, yes, what they say may get us a little hot under the collar if they are speaking to something near and dear to our heart, but unless they are looking right at me and/or pointing to me, I have to remain humble and remember that the person is talking about themself, and not about me.

Today, our nation is polarized on almost everything: from politics to history to race to religion to what to have for dinner. Being able to remain humble and overcome our own feelings is so important to remain spiritually pure. It is a sin to be prideful, and that means not just in what we say but also in how we accept what others are saying.

Here is why I believe the world has become too self-centered: everyone wants us to speak to them compassionately and be careful how we say something, but no one is trying to listen compassionately. It is all about how what you say affects me, and no one seems to want to try to slow down when they hear something offensive or insulting, and think “Why would someone say something like that?” Maybe that person is in pain? Maybe that person has been told a lie? Maybe that person is upset about something totally different than what they are saying?

Or maybe that person is a major A-hole? The best way to answer these questions is to remain humble and overcome our initial prideful feelings when something someone says affects us, emotionally.

In the case where we are being insulted, directly, we can still remain humble in simply ignoring that person, which to me is the most insulting thing anyone can do to someone else. Better yet, we should ask them, “Why are you saying this to me?” showing compassionate listening by giving them a chance to explain. It may be a misunderstanding that can be resolved so that the end result isn’t two people angry with each other, but two people coming to an understanding and remaining on good terms with each other.

Doesn’t that sound more like the way Yeshua would act?

So, if anyone is feeling insulted, put upon, offended, or just put out by this message, I do apologize and hope that you will see this isn’t about YOU, but about all of us, me included, and how we should be just as careful listening to someone as when we speak to someone.

Yeshua had the advantage of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) letting him know what people really thought, but we don’t, so please listen with compassion and humility; and when something you hear bothers you, personally, step back a moment and ask yourself, “Is this about me or about them?”

If you can do that, then you are showing true humility, compassion, and love for others. And, if you ask me, that is the best way to be safe.

Thank you for being here. If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe here and on my YouTube channel, and check out my books when you are on the website. My newest book is called “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews, Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah”.

And remember, I always welcome your comments.

So, l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

I Never Can Stress Forgiveness Enough

I am going to surprise you today- this is probably going to be one of the shortest and most direct messages I have ever delivered, so hold on to your hats ’cause this ride is going to be fast!

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

Forgiveness is something that is absolutely necessary for any Believer to give to anyone who has sinned against them. Period.

If you feel you are “just not ready to forgive them”, then if you die before you do forgive them, don’t be surprised if you are told “I am just not ready to forgive you” because Yeshua warns us in Matthew 6:14:

For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;  but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.

That’s not an idle warning, and it isn’t something that you can avoid just because you “believe in Jesus”.

We are not commanded to ask for forgiveness, although we are told that we should do so to anyone we think we have sinned against before leaving our sacrifice or gift at the altar (Matthew 5:24); but, here in Matthew 6:14-15, we are told in no uncertain way that we must forgive if we want to be forgiven.

Not only does forgiving others ensure our ability to be forgiven, but it is the ONLY way to be rid of the pain we feel when we are harmed, physically or emotionally.

And remember that when we sin, it is always against God (Psalm 51): even when someone does you a terrible injustice, that sin is first and foremost against God- you come next in line. And the forgiveness of that sin against God is always and exclusively between the sinner and God; your forgiveness of the sin has nothing, whatsoever, to do with that person’s relationship with God. They need to make it right with God themself.

The important thing to remember is that your forgiveness of the person who sinned against you has everything to do with YOUR relationship with God. You cannot influence the forgiveness of the sinner with God, but you can ensure your forgiveness from God by forgiving them.

When we forgive others, it doesn’t make them right with God- it makes us right with God!

So forgive others, whether you feel like it or not, and do so genuinely. Yeah, I know it is hard to do, but here are the two things you need to remember that will help you overcome your flesh:
1. If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven; and
2. Forgiving others is the only way to be rid of the pain.

Do you get it now? Forgiveness does nothing for the other person, but it does everything that matters for you. In a way, forgiving others is not just godly, it is selfish, so be a little selfish because, in this one situation, it is a good type of selfishness.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages out, subscribe to my webpage, YouTube channel, and join my Facebook discussion group called “Just God’s Word”.

My newest book, “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews, Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah” is available through my website or Amazon, in paperback and Kindle format.

That’s it for today so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

The Three Trinities

Most everyone is familiar with the Christian idea of the Trinity, composed of the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.

But there is a trinity within Judaism, as well: the trinity I am thinking of is the relationship between God, Israel, and the Messiah.

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Christianity concentrates on the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the son, with the Holy Spirit being given to each individual who accepts Yeshua as their Messiah so that they can join that relationship. In Judaism, God doesn’t see the individual as much as he sees all individuals, collectively as one nation, Israel. The Messiah’s role in this relationship is as God’s High Priest to the nation, bringing them back into communion with God by re-establishing the kingdom of David, rebuilding the temple and thereby bringing back the sacrificial system so we can be forgiven of our sins, in accordance with the Torah.

The main difference between the Christian trinity and the Jewish trinity is how the relationship with God is formed: Christians see their relationship as a personal one with the Messiah, through whom they have a relationship with God. Judaism sees itself as having a national relationship with God where the Messiah serves everyone as High Priest and King.

The one thing they have in common is that they are both looking at this from a human-to-God order, meaning that even though God sends the Messiah, our relationship is from humans through the Messiah to God.

I see a third trinity, one which is not us to God, but from God’s down to us.

And this trinity doesn’t include the Messiah or the Holy Spirit, but simply God and humanity.

In Genesis 22:18, God told Abraham that the entire world would be blessed by his descendants. A couple of hundred years later (in Exodus 19:6), God gives his Torah to Moses (this is the ONLY place in the entire Bible where God dictates, directly, how he wants us to worship him and how to treat each other) and he tells Moses to teach it to the Israelites because they will be his (God’s) nation of priests.

So far, we have seen two parts of the trinity: God will bless the world through Abraham, and through Moses gives us his instructions on how to act and charges the nation of Israel to learn them and teach them to the world. Now for the third part.

In Deuteronomy 28, God promises the Israelites (and, consequently, the world) all the blessings they will receive when they follow the instructions in the Torah.

So, God chooses a man through whom all the world will be blessed, then gives that man’s descendants (the bringer of the blessings) the instructions for how to receive those blessings, charging them to be priests to the world. Finally, God tells us exactly what those blessings will be when we do as he says.

This, to me, is the ultimate trinity: (1) God’s promise to bless the world, (2) he gives his instructions to his chosen people to bring to the world, and (3) through obedience to those instructions we receive the blessings.

This is a little complicated, so let’s go over it one last time:

Christians see a trinity of God to Messiah to people, with the Holy Spirit acting as a means to communicate what God wants us to do. Jews see God and the nation of Israel, with the Messiah acting as an intermediary to bring that nation back into communion with God.

I see a trinity where God chooses a man whose descendants become a nation of priests to bring God’s instructions to the world in order for everyone who obeys them to be blessed.

The problem with my proposed trinity is that it never worked out that way, which is why God had to send the Messiah. He sent him first to the Jews to get them back on board, then allowed him to go to the rest of the world. After all, Yeshua (Jesus) is a descendant of Abraham and one of the Nation of Israel, which is who God promised would bless the world. Yeshua is the epitome of the Cohen HaGadol, the High Priest, to both Israel and the world; and what better blessings could there ever be than the one God sent with his Messiah- eternal peace and joy?

Three trinities, three different forms of relationship between God and humanity, and none of them able to be accomplished until God sent Messiah Yeshua. But, when all is said and done, all three result in the same end product: communion with God and eternal joy and peace.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to both my website and YouTube channel and check out the books I have written (I just finished my 4th book, which debunks the traditional lies about Yeshua) and “Like” my Messianic Moment Facebook page. I also have a Facebook discussion group called Just God’s Word which anyone can join.

And one more thing: I always welcome comments, even if you disagree.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Noach 2021 (Noah) Genesis 6:9 – 11:32

We read today the story of Noah.

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Noah was the only righteous man in a world of violence and God, seeing that the world needed a reboot, had Noah, his wife, sons, and daughter-in-law all survive the flood God was to send to destroy all life on earth (except the fish, of course) by building an ark and taking a representative of each of the animals. Of the clean animals, there were 7 pairs (male and female) and of the unclean only one pair.

We all know about the 40 days of rain until the earth was completely covered, the 150 days of floating around, then finally the waters begin to recede and eventually, after more than a year, Noah and his family came to ground on Mount Ararat and left the ark, setting free the animals. Noah sacrifices to God and God makes a covenant never again to destroy the earth by flood, placing a rainbow in the sky as a reminder of the covenant.

This covenant is known as the Noahide Covenant and is the first one that God made with mankind. It encompasses the restrictions of cruelty to animals, eating of blood, laws regarding torts, and sets the foundation for the succeeding covenants to come.

Remember this important fact about the covenants God made with us: they have always been complementary, not exclusionary, meaning that each succeeding covenant -the Abrahamic, the Mosaic, the Davidic, and lastly the New Covenant- all have included and built upon the previous covenants. No covenant God has made has ever overruled or removed any aspect or requirement of the previous covenant.

This parashah tells us of the sin of Ham, who saw his drunken and naked father and made fun of it, resulting in Noah cursing him and his descendants. Speaking of descendants, we are told the generations of Noah and his children, and the story of the Tower of Babel is given.

This parashah ends taking us through the generations after Noah until we come to Abram settling in the Chaldees.

As I was going through my Chumash, there was a commentary when I came to the part where Noah gets drunk and Ham sees him lying passed out on the floor, showing the family jewels to everyone. The commentary states that most children’s versions of the Bible leave this out, assuming it is too “adult” for the children to have to hear, but that it should not be excluded because of the valuable lesson it teaches.

That lesson is children must respect their parents, and that means even when their parents do something foolish or make mistakes, the children should be respectful and not make fun of them. The example in my Chumash was regarding parents who cannot speak the language as well as their children (I think it used that example because this Chumash dates from the early 20th Century when many immigrants were still coming into the country and having language issues), but in modern times we could use the example of seniors having trouble with computer skills.

The youth of today (I am talking Millennials and younger) demonstrate a sense of entitlement and are very accusatory of their elders. They blame the previous generations for all their problems and have recently even tried to not just ignore history, but do away with it by tearing down statues. This disrespect not just for history but for their parents and their grandparents, who made that history, whether for good or bad, is a sin.

God makes it clear that children must honor their parents when he spells it out in the Ten Commandments, and we see the root of the need for this right here in this parashah, which took place nearly 450 years earlier.

So where does this disrespect stem from? If you ask me, it stems from the parents, many of whom in the last 2 or 3 generations have been more concerned with being their children’s friend than being their parent. We have become a society of overly sensitive babies, crying “Ouch” at every word or intonation that is aimed at us.

I grew up with the adage, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Today it is more like, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can be a felony.”

Words can hurt, no doubt about it, but the significant difference between when I grew up and today is that I was toughened up to ignore the words that are hurtful. The kids today can’t handle being told they did a bad job!

I had been a mentor for people learning how to be Docents (guides) at a popular zoo and when I told some of them that they needed to get better at answering questions, some of them actually cried! And guess who got in trouble for that? Yes, I did! For pointing out what they did wrong, in order to make them better at what they wanted to do, I was wrong. Imagine that.

And no, I didn’t yell, I didn’t say nasty things or insult them, I simply asked them why they didn’t listen to what I told them to do and that they needed to better learn the facts about the animals.

This was a number of years ago, but from what I see in the world, it hasn’t gotten any better. We are a society of wimps, and that is why America is spiraling down, no longer able to brag about our “can-do” attitude because what it is today is more of a “you have to do it for me” attitude.

And if you ask me, it all begins with a lack of respect for our parents, which was fostered by parents being afraid to punish and control their children. As a parent, your first and most important responsibility is to provide the basic needs for your children- food, water, shelter, and (of course) love. Next, you should make sure that they are self-sufficient, and this is where many parents have failed. Children can’t be alone- I see parents picking up their children from school in nice neighborhoods when they live less than a quarter of a mile away. Let the kid walk it, and if you are afraid of predators, teach the kids to walk in groups and how to avoid the predators.

The disrespect Ham showed to his father was unjustified and the cause was in Ham, but in my opinion, today the cause of this disrespect is from the way parents coddle and dote on their kids. The example a parent who dotes and coddles their child makes is one of weakness and fear of rejection. Kids pick up on this, and it will never earn the respect their children should have for them and will result in adults who will not be able to teach their kids to be strong, self-sufficient members of society.

Leadership has to be strong and constant, and if the parents aren’t able to handle stress or being treated meanly by other people, how can they teach their children to do so?

We are a society of emotionally and spiritually weak people, and unless we teach our children to respect their parents by being parents who earn that respect, we are doomed.

Thank you for being there and please share these messages, subscribe to my website, YouTube channel, and like my Facebook page. You might also want to join my Facebook discussion group, Just God’s Word.

I have completed my 4th book, “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews, Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah”. It is available in paperback and Kindle format, and you can get it from Amazon books or use the link on my website.

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