Parashah Va-ayra 2020 (I appeared) Exodus 6:2 – 9

In the previous parashah, Moses had complained to God asking why God hasn’t freed the people but instead, now they are treated worse than ever before. God told Moses that this was all designed so that God could now show his might.

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This parashah starts with God telling Moses that he and Aaron will bring the people out, and that to Pharaoh Moses will be like God, and Aaron will be his prophet (we will come back to this later.)

From this point on we begin one of the most well-known and wonderful events in all of human history: Moses and Aaron continue to ask Pharaoh to let the people go, he refuses, and God sends his plagues on Egypt. These plagues start easily enough, meaning that Pharaoh’s magicians can mimic the miracles, but soon even the magicians cannot duplicate these events and by the 4th plague, everyone within Pharaoh’s government is asking Pharaoh to let the people go, but he refuses.

This parashah ends with the plague of hail that turns to fire when it lands.

We all know the story of the 10 Plagues. These plagues showed God’s strength as each plague overpowered one of the many Egyptian animal gods. First, they were duplicatable, then they were not, and soon enough God demonstrated not only his power to send these plagues on Egypt but his ability to keep his own people safe from them.

When I read a parashah I ask for some message, some insight that might be new, and today I think I received something. That’s what great about reading the Bible over and over – you never know when something you have read a million times will suddenly have a different meaning for you.

For me, it was when I read Chapter 7 in the book of Exodus, which begins with this:

And the Lord said unto Moses: “See, I have set thee in God’s stead to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shall speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.”

If we imagine that Pharaoh represents the people in the world, and Moses and Aaron are God and his prophet, respectively, then this can represent more than just God giving Moses and Aaron roles to play. What is interesting is that nowhere does it even imply Aaron was considered to be the progenitor of those miracles. No, it was always Moses who got the credit for the miracle: Moses turned the water into blood, Moses brought the locusts, Moses stopped the locusts, etc.

Throughout the ages we have seen prophets and judges perform great miracles, and when you think about it, how many times have those miracles been credited to the person? Elijah and the 400 Prophets of Ba’al, Gideon and his military victory, Samson and his strength: these and other stories are about the prophets and judges who performed great deeds, but wasn’t it God who actually did it all?

Too often we ignore the “man behind the curtain” and give credit to the false wizard who demonstrates the fearsome feats.

And the best example, which could just as well be called the worst example, is how so many people worship Jesus Christ and give him all the credit for what God wrought through him.

Messiah was no different from any of the prophets or judges God sent to do his work in the world.  True, Yeshua was a miracle baby, and he was the only prophet from God who died and was resurrected to life (Samuel being called from Sheol by Saul doesn’t count), and it’s true that Yeshua was the only one of all God’s prophets who was acceptable to act as a substitutionary sacrifice for us all.

But when it comes down to it, Yeshua tells us over and over, and over again throughout the Gospels that he was only doing what he was told to do. Just the same way that Aaron did what Moses told him to do. Yeshua should NOT be worshiped any more than Aaron should have been, or Moses (for that matter) because only God is deserving of worship.

Yes, I know the Bible tells us that people at times bowed down and worshiped Yeshua, but when I looked at dozens of biblical verses regarding the worship of Yeshua, the only place that I found anything indicating that Yeshua was worshiped was in the New Covenant.

One day I shall write about how the New Covenant, which is scripture which quotes from and is based upon the Tanakh, was composed by non-Jews for Gentiles who didn’t want to be Jewish anymore, and has many questionable references, such as making it seem to be okay to worship a man instead of God.
But…that is for another time.

How many times have you heard it said by people, Pastor’s, Ministers, Priests, or Rabbis that God deserves all the credit and our worship? I know that in my experience, almost every single time we have a Shabbat or Holy Day service, somewhere in there we are told that it is all about God.

Then we hear people pray to saints or to Yeshua for help, or ask a human being to provide forgiveness, or worship the Messiah and call him our God. In some places, people actually bow down before a graven image of a human being and pray to it.

There is only one savior- God. There is only one who can help us and forgive us- God. Even when someone performs a miracle, that person is only the tool through which the real power is working, and that real power is- God.

There is one God whose power is often manifested through whomever he chooses, and the rest of the world can accept that or reject it. And, for the record, when you reject the true originator of the power behind the Messiah, you have placed a wedge between you and God and are practicing idolatry.

Moses was, in fact, the prophet through whom God worked his power, and eventually (as we get further along in Exodus) we see that Aaron’s position changes from performing God’s miracles to being the intermediary between the people and God, teaching and leading them in the proper worship of God.

We are not saved by the sacrificial death of the Messiah, but in fact by his resurrection. That resurrection was not brought about by Yeshua but by God. So, you see, even though it is true that through Yeshua we can be saved, the actual “savior” is God because God provided the Messiah.

Always give credit to God, worship God alone, and ask God for what you need. Remember: Yeshua never said pray to him to receive, but when we pray (meaning to God) we are to ask for what we need in Yeshua’s name. When God answers a prayer that is made invoking the name of his Messiah, not only does it honor the Messiah but that, in turn, will glorify God.

We can credit Yeshua for all the suffering he endured on our behalf, and we can be thankful to him; we can honor him and praise him for what he did, but we cannot worship him or put him in the place of God, who is our true rock and redeemer.

To paraphrase the famous line from the Wizard of Oz,  “Don’t ignore the man behind the curtain.”

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Parashah Sh’mot 2020 (the Names) Exodus 1 – 6:1

This second book of the Torah begins with the history of Moses. He was born at the time when the Pharaoh wanted all male children killed, but his mother hid him until he was three months old, then she sent him down the Nile trusting in God to save him. He was found by Pharaoh’s sister, who took pity on him and saved him from being drowned.

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Miriam was following her brother, who the Egyptian named “Moshe”, and offered to get a Hebrew woman to nurse the child, bringing him back to his own mother. She raised him as a Hebrew child until he was weaned (back in those days that could have been until he was a toddler), and then he was raised by the Egyptians as one of the royal family.

As an adult, one day Moshe saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and in anger, he killed the Egyptian. That became known and Moshe fled for his life, ending up in Midyan, marrying a Midianite woman and working for her father, a priest of Midyan.

When Moshe was 80 years old, he saw the burning bush and God told him to go lead the people out of Egypt. Moshe made any number of excuses, each of which God handled by giving him miraculous signs to perform, and eventually even allowing Aaron to act as the mouthpiece for Moshe. In the end, God had to order Moshe to go; yet, on the way, Moshe still did something that made God so angry he was going to kill him, but Zipporah saved him by circumcising Gershom, his oldest son.

Moshe comes to the people and shows them the signs, and they believe him. Then he and Aaron go to Pharaoh to ask to let the people go three days into the desert to worship Adonai, but Pharaoh refuses, and to make things worse, he orders that no straw be given the people but they must still make their quota of bricks, forcing them to work day and night, gathering stubble from the fields.

This parashah ends with Moshe asking God why he has made things worse, and God explains that this is so that he can now show all his wonders.

Of all the possible lessons, both historical and spiritual that can be found within this one parashah, I want to talk about something that is, essentially, social.

The reason the Israelites become enslaved was not due to riotous actions, rebellions, or anything criminal. It was that they were blessed by God and grew strong. Their numbers grew, and the absence of any reason to enslave them, other than what the Torah tells us, i.e. the fear of the Egyptian leadership that these people may one day turn against them, indicates that they were living peacefully and separate from the Egyptians. The Israelites did their thing, and the Egyptians did their thing, and neither bothered the other. In the end, it wasn’t what the Israelites did that caused them to become slaves, but what the Egyptians were afraid they might do.

God promised Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to the world, and since we know that God gives us blessings in order that we can share them, the blessings to the world were first found within Israel. And throughout history, every time Israel shares their blessings with others, it is turned against them.

In Egypt, they were enslaved for being prosperous. In Isaiah 39, we read that after Hezekiah shows the emissaries of the King of Babylon his riches, the king of Babylon decides to take them for himself. In Spain, the riches and business success of the Jewish population led to their persecution and exile during the Inquisition. Even the Pope at that time told Isabella not to exile the Jews because they were beneficial to the Spanish economy, but she refused to listen.

And we all know what happened in Germany.

Even today, many (if not most) of the technological and medical advancements that have benefitted the world came from Israel: did you know that Israel is the leading technological contributor to the world today? Yet, despite all the wonderful blessings Israel has given to the world, the world supports the enemies of Israel!

Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs!

God chose the descendants of Abraham, who the world knows as “the Jews” to be the way he, God, blesses the world. He has given us the gifts that have made the world better, but this blessing came with a curse: in a world that is sinful, egocentric and full of fear and jealousy, the gifts that the Jews share with the world have made them the targets of the world.

I have written before about the number of Nobel prizes given to Jews compared to the rest of the world. Currently, Jews represent .02% of the world’s population, which is 2 out of every 100 people. Yet, of all the Nobel prizes awarded, those won by Jews represent nearly 24% of all prizes, across the board.

Just as the King of Babylon wanted the riches that Hezekiah had, the world wants what God has given to the Jewish people. But, what the world doesn’t realize, is that these gifts from God are to be given to the world through the Jews. In other words, the Jewish people are the distribution means for God’s blessings; destroy the Jews, and there will be no more blessings.

God has certainly blessed us, but this blessing has also been the bane of our existence; God wants his people to bless the world, but in doing so the world has turned against his people.

Over and over we read in the Bible, and also see in human history, that the more the Jewish people bless the world, the more the world hates us. Even the greatest of all blessings, the Messiah, who came from the Jewish people, has been turned against us and under his name millions of Jews have been tortured, persecuted and murdered.

Yet, we persevere. God will never allow his people to disappear from the earth, and despite the terrible and unappreciative way the world treats us, we will continue to share our gifts and blessings with the world. Why? Because we fear God, and we want to do as God has told us to do.

When we obey God, he is on our side, and no matter what the world tries to do, we will NEVER be destroyed.

As Shaul said to the Jews in Rome (Romans 8:31): “…when God is with us, who can be against us?”

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Until next time, Shabbat Shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayyechi 2020 (And he lived) Genesis 47:28 – 50:26

Jacob and his entire family are now in Goshen, and Jacob lived there for another 17 years. Joseph is told that his father is ill and he brings his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim to Jacob so that they can be blessed by him.

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Jacob makes Joseph swear to bury him with his fathers, and tells Joseph that he (Jacob) is adopting Joseph’s sons as tribes of Israel under Joseph’s inheritance. After this, Jacob blesses the sons of Joseph and places the younger over the elder (just as had happened with him and his brother, Esau.) After this, he blesses all his sons (although some of what he said doesn’t sound much like a blessing) and dies.

Joseph tells his brothers, who were worried that with Jacob dead Joseph may still yet take vengeance on them, that what they designed for evil God turned into good, saving their lives and many others, so he will always take care of them.

The parashah ends, as does this first book of the Torah, with Joseph’s death.

And as we come to the end of a book of the Torah, we recite this saying:

Chazak! Chazak! V’nit Chazek!
(Strong, Strong, and let us be strengthened) 

 

When Jacob is blessing his sons, part of the blessing for Judah says (Genesis 49:10):

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, as long as men come to Shiloh; And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be. 

This verse has been considered for many centuries to mean that Judah will be in charge of the other tribes until such time as Shiloh comes, with “Shiloh” meaning the Messiah. This is a messianic interpretation that has been pretty much universally accepted by Christians and Messianic Jews, and pretty much universally rejected by mainstream Judaism.

I often use the 1965 Soncino edition of the Chumash, with commentary by Dr. J. H. Hertz, C.H. (the late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire) as reference material for these messages.  His insight and understanding of the Jewish mindset, as well as his scholarly knowledge of the writings of many other Jewish scholars, has been exceptionally helpful in my understanding of the text of the Torah and its meaning.

However, when it comes to messianic interpretations used by Christianity, he was just as prejudiced against Christianity as any other Jew I ever knew while I was growing up in a Reform Jewish household, or have met during my lifetime.

Let me show you what I mean: here are some excerpts from his notes on the Book of Genesis.

Regarding the use of Shiloh as the Messiah:

Despite the fact that nowhere in scripture is that term applied to the Messiah, Christian theologians assume that Shiloh is a name of the founder of Christianity. In this sense, ‘Till Shiloh come’ is a favorite text of Christian missionaries in attempting to convert illiterate Jews or those ignorant of scripture.

As he further discusses Christian misinterpretation of the Tanakh for missionary use, he brings up Isaiah 53, and with reference to that says:

For eighteen hundred years Christian theologians have passionately maintained that it is a prophetic anticipation of the founder of their faith. 

In his commentary on Jacob’s blessings, Dr. Hertz said that when Jacob referenced Reuben’s sleeping with one of Jacob’s concubines (Genesis 44:4), he suddenly started to talk in the third person instead of the second person because the event was so loathful to him. Yet, when Dr. Hertz refers to Yeshua, he doesn’t even use his proper name.

How hateful must someone be to not even use the name “Jesus Christ” when talking about him?

And did you notice that he refers to Yeshua as the “founder of their faith”? How could such an intelligent and knowledgeable scholar of the Bible not know that Christianity, as it existed in his time, was nothing like what Yeshua taught, but (in truth) the real founder of that religion was Constantine?

The answer is simple: he was never taught the truth about Yeshua because the bigotry between Christians and Jews was so solidified that no one cared about the truth, and believed only what they had been taught growing up.

I was taught the same thing that Dr. Hertz was taught, that Jesus Christ was a Jew who rebelled against Judaism and created his own religion, which hated and killed Jews.  Actually, that reference would be a lot more accurate if we applied it to Martin Luther, but it is not at all accurate or true with regard to Yeshua.

I hate the hatred between Jews and Christians that has been developed over the Millennia, and as much as I try to expose the truth in this ministry of mine, it will never have an impact except, God willing, on a few people who may be exposed to my messages and books. And that is fine with me; in fact, if I can help just one Jewish person (Gentiles would be OK, too) during my entire life to come to know the truth about Yeshua, then it will be worthwhile work.

The animosity between Christians and Jews is two-sided, and built upon ignorance, which is the foundation stone of bigotry; I am sorry to say it will not be alleviated (apologies to Dr. Hertz) until Shiloh comes, again. Once Messiah Yeshua returns in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) and God’s plan will come to completion, then everyone will know the truth about who the Messiah really is, about who really created Christianity and that God really does exist and his word is absolutely truthful and trustworthy.

So, until that time arrives (which I believe is almost upon us), we will have to deal with defeating this age-old misunderstanding one person at a time.

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Until next time, Shabbat Shalom and Baruch HaShem!

 

Parashah Vayyiggash 2020 (He approached) Genesis 44:18 – 27

We left Benjamin being taken into life-long slavery for having stolen the cup from Joseph. This parashah begins with Judah coming to Joseph and explaining how very valuable Benjamin is to Jacob and begs Joseph to take him in place of Benjamin as his slave for life and release Benjamin back to his father; otherwise, Jacob will die of a broken heart.

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At this demonstration of brotherly love and devotion, Joseph can no longer contain himself, so glad that his brothers have shown they are no longer as they were when they sold him into slavery. He clears the Egyptians from his presence and reveals his true identity to his brothers. After a moment of disbelief, Joseph reunites with them. He tells them to bring Jacob and all they have into Egypt because the famine is not over yet and that he, Joseph, will take care of all their needs from now on.

Pharaoh hears that Joseph’s brothers are there and confirms Joseph’s request to bring the family into Egypt; not only that, but he also gives them wagons to carry everything.  The brothers return to Jacob and tell him about Joseph, and once he gets over the initial shock, he desires to go to Joseph just as fast as he can. On the way they come to Beersheba, where Jacob was raised, God confirms to Jacob he may go to Egypt.

Remember that Isaac wanted to go to Egypt when he was in the midst of a famine, but God forbade it (Genesis 26:2) so, naturally, Jacob wanted to have God’s approval before he went there, and the altar that Isaac set up at Beersheba was the perfect place to ask permission.

Upon arrival in Egypt, Pharaoh confirms (again) Joseph’s desire to have his family settle in Goshen, which seems to be the best land in Egypt. They settle in and the famine continues, although thanks to Joseph his family is well fed. The rest of Egypt, in the meantime, is starving and they run out of money to buy food, so Joseph trades their cattle for food. Eventually, Pharaoh owns all the cattle (although Joseph had the people care for the cattle) and the famine is still with them, so Joseph buys the land the people own and allows them to work it, giving Pharaoh a percentage of their crops in exchange for letting them work the land. By the end of the famine, Pharaoh owns everything in Egypt: the land, the cattle, and even the people.

Meanwhile, the children of Israel are growing stronger and multiplying like rabbits.

When I read this all I could think about was how amiable Pharaoh was to Joseph. He appreciated all that Joseph had done not just for him, but for his people, as well. He was kind to Joseph, and when Joseph brought his family down, even though (compared to the Egyptians) they were crude and their habits and lifestyle an abomination, Pharaoh gave them the best land to live on and even made them supervisors of his own cattle. The government appreciated what this lowly Jewish man had done for it.

Then I thought about the treatment of Jews today.

Do you have any idea of the technological advancements to make life better that have come out of Israel?

First off, consider that Jews make up less than 4/10’s of 1 percent of all the people in the world, which means that out of every 10,000 people only 4 of them are Jewish. Yet, even at that minuscule percentage, in the last century, nearly 22% of all Nobel prizes have been awarded to Jews.

As for technology, here are some examples (just a few of the many) of what Israel has contributed to the world:

  • the cell phone was a Motorola invention, but it was developed at their Israel R & D location;
  • an exoskeleton device to help paraplegics walk;
  • PillCam, which is a camera in a pill people can swallow for diagnosis of gastronomic illnesses;
  • a flexible stent for heart patients that has already saved millions of lives;
  • some of the most advanced firewall software available today;
  • the very first USB flash drive patent was from an Israeli;
  • Netafim is an advanced irrigation system;
  • Israel has invented a device for farming that can pull water directly from the air; and
  • the car camera system that makes driving safer? Israeli invention.

And these are just a few of the many inventions that Israel has not only developed, but shared with the world. They even share it with their neighbors, who refuse to accept what Israel can give them to make their lives better, Instead, they do all they can to completely destroy Israel.

Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs!

The governments of the world, unlike that Pharaoh so many millennia ago, don’t appreciate a thing that Israel has done. In fact, instead of recognizing the benefits that Israel gives to the world and demanding that the Arab nations leave Israel alone, they side with the ones trying to destroy Israel. How blind can you be? How can the world not see that they are supporting the destruction of the one country that is doing more than anyone else to make their lives better?

I don’t have an answer to that one, except maybe that Satan has so influenced the world leadership, meaning the United Nations, that the world is willing to drink the Kool-Aid (if you understand my reference.)

The worst part is that I know this will not get better, but in fact, it will get worse.  God’s plan for the redemption of his people has been done: we are gathered from the four corners of the earth and are back in our own land. Now comes the judgment of the nations, the Goyim, who will pay for their attempts to destroy God’s chosen people. But, as that judgment comes, Israel is still part of the world, they will also undergo suffering. Pray that during this suffering they come to recognize and accept the Messiah God already sent to them, Yeshua.

God has his plan for the world, which is outlined in the Bible books, especially the one called Revelation. It tells us how terrible it will be, and we can see the events beginning to unfold. Yes, there have been “doomsday sayers” for millennia, but I really think that we can count on it happening soon because the one definitive sign is that God will first regather his people, which he has done. That, and the inexplicable stupidity of the world, believing and supporting the PLO, who are liars and murderers, not just of Jews but of their own people, as well. And the UN is so blind that they are blaming Israel for all the problems that Israel’s neighbors are causing.

We can pray for Israel, and we should, but what we should pray for now is not a peace that comes from men, because history proves that peace men make is never more than temporary. We need to pray for the peace that God will bring, and that peace will not come (per God’s word) until after the Tribulation.

Pray for the Tribulation to come soon, and pass quickly.

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Until next time, Shabbat Shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Miketz 2019 (At the end) Genesis 41 – 44:17

Joseph is still in jail after the Cupbearer was restored to his position, yet forgot to mention Joseph to the Pharaoh, as he had promised to do.

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Two years pass and Pharaoh has a dream, the dream of the 7 healthy and 7 sickly cows, followed by the second dream of the 7 healthy and 7 sickly ears of corn. No one in his kingdom, none of the Soothsayers or magicians, can interpret these dreams. Now, the Cupbearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh, who summons Joseph.

Joseph interprets the dreams and tells Pharaoh to appoint a wise man to store grain during the years of plenty. Of course, who else could do this but Joseph (maybe that’s why he suggested it to Pharaoh?), so Pharaoh appoints Joseph as second in charge of all Egypt. No one except Pharaoh is above Joseph throughout the land. He also renames Joseph with an Egyptian name (my Chumash suggests that being given a new name, which was standard in those days to do when someone was promoted in status, may have helped hide his identity from his brothers.)

Joseph is given a wife who bears him two sons, the first one named Manasseh, which means “making to forget”, for Joseph says (Genesis 41:51) “…for God has made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.”  In other words, the blessings that God provided to Joseph overtook the tsouris, injustice, and pain he suffered for years.

After the years of plenty the famine starts, and Jacob sends all his sons to Egypt, except Benjamin, to buy grain. Joseph immediately recognizes them, but they have no idea who this Egyptian in charge of the food supply is. Joseph accuses them of being spies and puts them all in jail. After three days he tells them he will keep one as a hostage, and if they bring the missing brother back to him he will believe they aren’t spies. Otherwise, they will never be allowed in the land, again. He takes Simeon as a hostage until they return with their youngest brother to prove they aren’t spies. In the meantime, he returns their money in their sacks and when they are almost home they realize this. They are frightened when they see this, thinking Joseph will assume they stole their money back. They return Simeon-less to their father and say they must bring Benjamin with them to get Simeon released and to buy more grain. Jacob refuses to let Benjamin go, and only after Judah promises to take full responsibility for Benjamin’s safety and tells Jacob that if they don’t take him they will all starve to death.  Jacob relents and allows Benjamin to go back to Egypt with the brothers. This is where today’s parashah ends.

We all go through painful times in our lives, we all suffer some form of injustice, and we all receive blessings from God. Too often we concentrate on the painful things and ignore the blessings, causing us to not be as thankful to God as we should be.

Joseph suffered the worst kinds of emotional pain: his brothers hated him and tried to kill him, he was sold into slavery, he was wrongly accused of a heinous crime, his boss unjustly threw him in jail, and the man Joseph helped while in jail forgot his promise to return the favor.  Yet throughout all this, Joseph remained faithful and eventually, he was lifted up from being a slave in jail to being the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.

Now his brothers come before him and they need his help to survive. What does Joseph do? He throws them in jail! But this is important to know: he doesn’t throw them in jail as punishment or revenge, and he does so at his own personal, emotional pain. We know it causes him pain because we are told that Joseph cries when he does this. And we know he doesn’t do it as revenge because, as we were told earlier, with the birth of Manasseh Joseph has forgotten (or we could also say forgiven) his brother’s cruelty to him. The reason he threw them in jail, we later learn, is to test their loyalty to Jacob and to see if they have changed their attitude of jealousy to one of brotherly love.

We all suffer pain in our lives, both emotional and physical, and that pain never leaves until we forgive the ones that caused it. That sounds nearly impossible to do, but the only way to be rid of the pain is through forgiveness. Joseph was able to rid himself of his pain through forgiveness, and the motivation for his forgiveness was the blessings God gave to him. He was given authority and power, he was given a wife, two sons, and a boss that held him in the highest esteem. These blessings came as a result of his faithfulness and patience (two of the fruits of the spirit Shaul tells us about in Galatians), and what is most important for us to remember is that he recognized these blessings and was thankful for them, despite all the pain and suffering he underwent.

People have a tendency to dwell on the bad things and ignore the good, but what we, as faithful and trusting Believers, need to do is the opposite: we need to look to the future, to trust in God that these tough times will be replaced by times of plenty and rest, and stay the course, so to speak, until we receive those blessings. This is what Joseph did, and we can see how well it worked out for him.

Forgive those who have wronged and pained you. It isn’t easy, I know, but we MUST forgive. It is what God wants from us more than most anything else, and if you don’t think I am correct in saying that, read Matthew 6:14-15.

Let me share with you the two ways in which I have learned to make forgiving someone possible: First, I remind myself that the one who hurt me must be in terrible pain because people aren’t mean and thoughtless by nature. The mean people in the world have to have suffered much pain themselves, and whatever they did to me is probably less painful than what they have gone through. When I consider the pain they must be in, I can actually feel for them, and as such I know they need the love of God more than most, and that is why I can pray for them and mean it.

The second way I help myself to forgive someone is to think of all the blessings that God has given me, and how I have him to turn to whereas the one who wronged me probably has no one to turn to but him (or her) self. I have God on my side, and they have no one but themselves, so who really is worse off? Who really needs to be prayed for?

One other motivation for me to try to forgive someone is, as I mentioned above, Matthew 6:14-15. If you aren’t sure what that says, I sincerely recommend you read it, now.

Joseph is a wonderful example to us of how remaining patient, faithful and trusting in God to know what to do and when to do it will result in blessings that far outweigh the suffering we go through while waiting for him to act.

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Until next time, Shabbat shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayyashev 2019 (And he dwelt) Genesis 37 – 40

The rest of Genesis is about Joseph. We all know the story: he is hated by his brothers because he is the favorite of his father. Not to mention he is also a bit of a snitch, having once given a bad report to his father regarding his brothers. We can add that sharing his dreams with his brothers also didn’t help the situation since the dreams indicated they would all bow down to him.

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When given the chance, the brothers were going to kill him, but instead decided to sell him to a caravan of Yishmaelim However, before they could do that, some other Arabs found him in the cistern the brothers dumped him into, and they sold him. He ended up as the slave to Potiphar, one of the military generals of the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, the brothers dipped his coat of many colors into some blood and presented it to Jacob to make him believe Joseph was killed by a wild animal.

The Bible tells us that God was with Joseph, which is why everything he did was successful. I think it would be more accurate to say that Joseph was with God. In any event, Joseph is promoted to the position of trustee for Potiphar’s entire household and finances. But, trouble brews when Potipher’s wife gets the hots for Joseph and constantly demands he sleep with her.  Because Joseph was too righteous to sleep with her, she got revenge by accusing him of attempted rape. It is likely that because Potiphar liked Joseph that instead of having him killed, which would have been the standard punishment, he simply placed him in jail.

Even in jail, falsely accused and wrongfully punished, Joseph maintained his faith and was appointed a trustee. When two of the officers of Pharaoh in jail with him had dreams, he interpreted their dreams. The interpretations came true, with the Baker being hanged and the Cupbearer restored to his prior position. However, although the Cupbearer had promised Joseph to tell Pharoah about him, once restored to his position he forgot all about Joseph.

This is where this Parashah ends, and we learn later that two years pass before the Cupbearer remembers Joseph.

Here we have a righteous and trustworthy man, Joseph, who did nothing wrong yet was attacked by his own brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused of a crime that he didn’t commit, and all because he did what he knew to be right.  He never lost his faith in God, which was evident when Joseph told the Baker and the Cupbearer that God is the one who can interpret dreams.

I see a lesson here for all of us: when tsouris (Yiddish for troubles) comes into our life, and we know we have done nothing wrong, we have to maintain our faith in God that these trials are temporary and will lead to something better. So long as we do what is right in God’s eyes, even when the world is against us, we can survive and come out on top.

Because 1 John 4:4 says

 ...he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

and Romans 8:28 tells us

Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;

we can be assured that when we are having troubles and going through a bad time, God is still there, he is aware of what is happening, and he has a plan for us.

There are so many verses in the Bible, as well as stories like this one, that confirm God is always aware of what is happening in our life. We need to trust that God is in charge and even when he allows bad things to happen, we probably won’t understand why they happened until God’s plan comes to fruition.

In Joseph’s case, the sale into slavery placed him in Egypt, and the false accusation put him where he could, eventually, find his way to the Pharaoh, which resulted in the entire family of Jacob being saved from starvation. Not to mention most of the population of Egypt and the surrounding countries. Joseph came to understand this later and in Genesis 45 he tells his brothers that it wasn’t really them who put him where he was, but God, in order to save them all.

Job is another good example of bad things happening to a good person, and he also learned that God does what God does for God’s own reasons. Kohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes, learned this lesson the hard way, spending years seeking to understand why things are as they are, realizing that the effort was as useless as chasing the wind. His conclusion was to simply enjoy that which God gives you.

Too often I hear people who are going through some sort of tribulation blame it on a Satanic attack, which it could be, or they blame God, saying he is punishing them for something they did wrong. God does punish those who do wrong, especially the ones who are unrepentant, but for the most part, I believe that when we are trying to walk in the path of righteousness we will have troubles, but God will always be there to help us back on our feet.

It isn’t for nothing Yeshua told his Talmudim that anyone who wants to follow him (in other words, live a godly life) will have to carry their own execution stake.

Here’s what we need to take home from today’s message: when something bad happens to you, don’t blame God. And don’t blame Satan. In fact, don’t look to blame anyone, but instead look to the future because if you maintain your faith in God, the Bible proves that God will bring you out of this desert of tsouris you are in and place you in a garden of everlasting joy. It may not be right away, it may not even happen in your lifetime, but when we maintain our faith in God and do what is right in his eyes, we will spend eternity joyfully in his presence.

Thank you for being here; please remember to subscribe and I welcome your comments. It’s always nice to know someone takes the time to let me know what they think of my message. Even if you disagree with me.

Until next time, Shabbat shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayyishlach 2019 (He sent) Genesis 32:4 – 36

Jacob is on his way back to the land of his father and he hears that Esau is coming to meet him, with 400 men! Jacob assumes that Esau is still peeved about the firstborn rights thing, so he creates three groups of animals, each group separated from the other, to be a gift to Esau in the hope that it will appease his anger.

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Jacob comes to the Jabbok River, which is by Shechem in the Jordan Rift Valley, and everyone crosses over while Jacob remains as the last one to cross, making sure everyone is safely on the other side. As night comes, he wrestles with a man until the morning, when the man (who we learn is an angel) strikes Jacob in the hip, partially disabling him. Jacob holds on and the man asks to be released, but Jacob won’t release him until he blesses Jacob. The angel gives him a new name, Israel (one who wrestled with God.)

With Esau coming, Jacob sends his gifts and splits his camp into two, leading off with the handmaidens of his wives with their children, then Leah with her children, and in the rear, Rachel and Joseph.

Esau comes and they reconcile, with Esau going back to his land (Edom) and Jacob staying behind, settling in Shechem on a plot of land he buys from Hamor, the king of Shechem.

Later, after Jacob is settled, Shechem, the son of Hamor sees Jacob’s daughter Dinah alone and rapes her. Afterward, he falls in love with her and asks his father to get her to be his wife. Jacob and all the family, especially Levi and Shimon (who are her brothers by Leah) are disgusted by this vile act, but they agree to allow Dinah to become Shechem’s wife under one condition: all the men in the city must be circumcised. Hamor convinces the men to undergo this painful and debilitating operation (they didn’t have packages of frozen peas to act as a cold compress) because then all the possessions of Jacob will be theirs.  The men undergo the operation and on the third day, the most painful when they can’t even walk, Levi and Shimon attack the village and slaughter all the men, taking all their goods as booty.

Jacob is afraid the surrounding tribes will attack him for this evil act, and God tells him to go to Beth-El. On the way, Benjamin is born to Rachel, who dies in childbirth and is buried outside Bethlehem.

This parashah ends with the death of Isaac and the lineage of Esau.

So far in this book of the Torah, we know that Abraham purchased land in Hebron and that Jacob purchased land in Shechem (where, eventually, Joseph will be buried.) Did you know that these two places which are legally owned by the descendants of the Patriarchs (i.e., the Jewish people) are forbidden to Jews?

When I was in Israel in 2016, our guide told us that Jews going to the Cave of the Patriarchs was a dangerous trip, as it was surrounded by Arab towns and they have attacked Jews trying to visit the cave. As for Shechem, it is still under Arab control and here is the warning sign that is on the fence surrounding the territory:

If Jews want to visit the burial place of Joseph, they may be killed and there will be no legal action taken against the killers!

These aren’t the only places where Jews/Israeli’s are being kept from the land they legally own. The West Bank, which is really the section of Israel called Shomron (also known as Samaria) has historically been possessed by the Jewish people. Yet, the Jews that are now settled there and have built homes and cities are under attack by the Palestinian people, claiming that the land is their land and the Israeli’s are invaders!

For the record, there are no such people as the “Palestinian people”- this is a term that Yasser Arafat created and is propaganda. Before Israel was created in 1948, the North Syrian shepherds would often cross the boundary with their flocks and, after denuding the territory, return to their own country. That is the full extent of their “claim” to be inhabitants.  The only “real” Palestinian people, if we want to get technical, were the Jewish people living there after the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 73 AD and renamed Judea to Philistia (after the Philistines, the ancient enemy of the Jews.)

There was never any Arab interest in any part of the land that the Israeli’s have settled in until AFTER they were there and making the land economically feasible. There has never been a permanent Arab settlement in that part of the world. It wasn’t until after Israel was declared to be a separate state that the surrounding Arab nations made claims of ownership.

God promised that land to the descendants of Abraham, and he confirmed that promise to Isaac and Jacob. When God says something once, you can be pretty sure it will be. When he says it twice, there can be no doubt at all that it will happen that way. But if God says something three times, then you can bet your life on it! In fact, God repeats the promise to give the land to the descendants of Abraham to Moses, as well, and gives Joshua the boundary lines of each tribe and orders him to take the land from those who were already there (Joshua 15-20.)

The only way to be certain of the ownership of all the land which God promised to give to the children of Israel is to start with the belief that God exists, that he created everything in the universe, and that everything on, in, around, under, and above the earth belongs to God. When we accept that as truth, then ownership of the land cannot be contested. God gave that land to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac: this is an important point- God did not promise this land to the descendants of Ishmael but to the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. God told Moses that the all the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River belongs to the Children of Israel (Exodus 23:31.)

The British promised Israel almost all the land that God said we should have in their Balfour Declaration (1917) but by the time Israel actually got the land, the size was only a fraction of what had been promised to them. Yet, God has strengthened his people and they have expanded, taking back much of their ancient boundaries.

One day God will make sure that his promise is completely fulfilled, and when that day comes only those who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and have stood by Israel will be able to see God’s promise come to fruition.

Thank you, as always, for being here and please don’t hesitate to subscribe and make comments, if you want to.

I wish you all Shabbat shalom, and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch Ha Shem!

Parashah Vayetze 2019 (He went out) Genesis 28:10 – 32:3

Jacob leaves his home and travels to his uncle, Laban. On the way, he rests and dreams of a ladder to heaven with the angels going up and down on it, and he names that place Beit-El (House of God.)  When he arrives at Paddan-Aram, he first sees Rachel and helps her water her sheep. He is invited back to Laban’s house and after a month Laban offers to pay him for his work.

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They make a deal that Jacob will work 7 years in exchange for Rachel, but when the time comes to marry her Laban places Leah, her older sister, in the tent with Jacob. In the dark and veiled, Jacob can’t see he was tricked (karma?) and when he brings this to Laban’s attention, Laban says it is customary to give the older away before the younger, but if Jacob works another 7 years he can also have Rachel. This time, though, after the marriage week with Leah Jacob marries Rachel then and there, so he is now married to both as he works the second 7 years.

Jacob and Laban agree again about wages, this time Jacob offers to take the less-desirable goats and sheep, the ones with speckles and stripes, which are born in Laban’s flock. Although Laban changes the agreement several times, Jacob manages to make sure that he has the healthiest and strongest animals in his flock, leaving the weaker ones in Laban’s flock.  Laban’s sons conspire against Jacob, who hears of it, and he secretly leaves during the shearing celebration. Laban finds out about this (in the meantime, Rachel stole the household gods from her father’s tent) and chases after Jacob, but God tells Laban (in a dream) not to harm him.

After searching for the gods and not finding them because Rachel hid them under her saddle and said she couldn’t rise because she was in her time of Niddah, Laban and Jacob make a pact not to cross over a standing stone to do harm to each other, and they both go on their way. Laban goes back to his home and Jacob with his family and belongings back to the home of his father, Isaac.

During the time Jacob worked for Laban, between Leah, her handmaiden, Rachel, and her handmaiden Jacob fathered 11 sons. Benjamin was born on the way back to Canaan, but Rachel died during childbirth.

As I often say, there is just so much in here to work with. When I read the parashah before writing my message, I open my heart and mind to the Ruach hoping that something “hits” me, and today what hit me was that Leah suffered much and seemed to be more righteous than Rachel. And for that, she was rewarded (although she never saw it) with her sons being the ones that had the most influence on the children of Israel throughout the ages – Judah and Levi, the kings and priests of Israel.

Yes, Joseph (who was born from Rachel) saved the children of Jacob from starvation, as well as most of the known world, and his children were given the honor (by Jacob) of becoming the means of a blessing (“May they be like Ephraim and Manasseh…”), but that was it. They ended up being dispersed throughout the world and having no beneficial influence on the Israelites, having been centered outside of the land God promised (half of Manasseh) and the rest in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which was never anything more than a cesspool of sinfulness.

Leah was not loved by Jacob, nor was she as pretty as her sister, yet she faithfully endured through this and was (in my opinion) humble and grateful before God. Leah named her sons Reuben (see! a son), Shimon (hearing, showing gratitude that God heard her), Levi (joining, thinking now that she has given Jacob three sons he will be joined to her), and Judah, which means “praise.”  Every son she bore she named in a manner that gave thanks to God.

Rachel remained infertile for a long time but after God smiled on her and gave her a son, she named him Joseph, which means “may he add”, as in add another son. In other words, give me more, which isn’t quite as humble or grateful as Leah was.

When I read through this and realized that Leah, the less loved and more humble of the two, was honored with her sons being ones given the leadership of Israel, it reminded me of Psalm 149:4, which says:

For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

and Proverbs 3:34:

He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

Leah showed faithful suffering, being unloved by her husband even after fulfilling her role as a wife better than her sister did.  It was Rachel that stole the family gods, Rachel that lied to her father (to hide what she had stolen) and Rachel who sold her own husband’s conjugal duties for some mandrakes. Yet we don’t read anything about Leah, other than about her suffering as an unloved wife, not even living in the same tent as her husband.

We all suffer some ingratitude from those we have helped; we all sometimes suffer ungratefulness for the good things we have done, and we all feel unloved by someone we love, at least once in our lifetime. And our lesson today is that we need to be like Leah, suffering faithfully and never losing trust in God that the tsouris we are going through now will yield rewards in the future. And we may not see those rewards in our lifetime, as Leah didn’t, but we can learn from Leah that they will come. The humble will be honored and the prideful will be brought low.

One last point: Rachel was loved more, but buried alone in the desert, while Leah was buried with the Patriarchs of Judaism and their wives, and while separated from Jacob during her lifetime, she is now with him throughout eternity.

Thank you for being here and please don’t forget to subscribe so you will be notified next time I post. Also, I ask that you share this out with everyone you know and check out my website, messianicmoment.com.

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom, and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Parashah Toledoth 2019 (History) Genesis 25:19 – 28:9

This parashah contains the narrative of how Jacob “stole” Esau’s birthright. After doing this, he also fooled his father, Isaac, into giving him the blessing of the firstborn Isaac had intended for Esau, so twice Jacob supplanted and “stole” Esau’s rights.

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After this was done, Esau pledged to kill Jacob as soon as their father died, so hearing of this, Rebekah had Isaac send Jacob to Paddan-Aram, where her brother Laban lived to find a wife for himself. Of course, this was also her way to get Jacob away from Esau.

My question is this: did Jacob really steal anything?

Esau was a man of immediate gratification and had no respect for his birthright. This we know simply by how easily he gave it up. He wasn’t on the verge of starvation, although he acted like he was; I mean, really? How far could he have been from his parent’s tent when he came into Jacob’s tent? Jacob made a deal- he knew that Esau had something of value (the birthright) and that he, Jacob, had something Esau wanted, so he simply performed a standard business transaction.

In today’s jargon, we might call the deal he made a “steal”, but he did not really steal anything.

Now, let’s talk about the blessing of the firstborn that he is also supposed to have stolen.

First off, Rebekah was the one who thought up the plan to deceive her husband, not Jacob. In fact, we don’t even know if Rebekah was aware of the fact that Jacob owned the birthright of the one who was to receive that blessing (we’ll come back to this point soon.)  According to my Chumash, Rebekah conceived the plan to fool Isaac after she heard him tell Esau he was going to give him a blessing because she remembered the prophecy she received (Genesis 25:23) when God told her there were two nations in her womb, and the older would serve the younger. Remembering this, she knew she had to make sure Jacob received the greater blessing. That was her motivation for the plot to fool Isaac.

Now, let’s get back to my earlier point about Jacob being the one who owned the right to that blessing. Jacob owned the rights of the firstborn, which would include the blessing for the firstborn. When Esau sold his rights as firstborn, everything that the firstborn was entitled to now belonged to Jacob. That includes the blessing the firstborn is to receive. I think we can make an argument that when Jacob fooled his father, it wasn’t so much to receive the blessing as it was to make sure that Isaac did not do something wrong, i.e. giving the blessing for the firstborn to one who was not entitled to it.

Many “Christian” Bibles have a subtle anti-Semitic tone to them. In fact, most of the Bibles written have copied, or at least maintained, these chapter titles that are phrased in such a way as to mislead the reader. One that really gets my goat is in Acts when Shaul has his revelation of Yeshua. They almost call this one “Paul’s Conversion on the Road to Damascus.” Oy, how I hate that! Paul never converted to anything! Today’s section of the Bible is sometimes titled “Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing”. I found that in an old, Dartmouth Bible I have. A newer Bible, the NIV Study Quest Bible, gives this section the title “Jacob Gets Esau’s Blessing”, so it is a little better than saying it was stolen.  The NLT says he stole it, and most of the others I looked at (about a dozen or so) either have no chapter title or say “Jacob Tricks Isaac.” I would agree that he did trick Isaac, obviously, but I still maintain a less accusatory title would have been something like “Jacob Receives the Blessing of the Firstborn.”

As I said before, if anyone should be blamed for tricking Isaac, it should be Rebekah since it was her idea, to begin with.

After all, that blessing belonged to Jacob the moment Esau sold it to him. And this selling of non-tangible things wasn’t unusual for that culture. In Genesis 30:14, Leah’s son, Reuben found mandrakes, and when Rachel asked for them Leah offered to give them to her in exchange for the conjugal duties of Jacob. Here we see the same sort of transaction, where an intangible right is being bought and sold. So what Jacob did wasn’t as terrible, for that culture, as we would consider it if it was done today.

When we look through the Bible, we see that in order for God’s plan to come to fruition, he often “breaks the rules” that people have created so that his will is done. The firstborn not receiving what mankind mandated the firstborn should receive is one example of this, and we see it in this parashah, and also later with Manasseh and Ephraim, then David, Solomon, and throughout the kingships of the Northern Kingdom of Israel up even to the day they are destroyed by the Assyrians.

We have to live under the laws and regulations of this world, which will have an impact on our lives; however, they will not have any impact on God’s plan for us. So no matter who cheats you or steals from you, or just misleads you, remember that you can trust in God to steer you back onto the course he wants you to be on. In fact, someone’s treachery against you may actually be God’s way of getting you where he wants you to be!

Always trust God to direct and rescue you no matter what happens in your life, whether it be a blessing or tsouris.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, if you haven’t done so already. Share this out with friends and family and check out my entire website- so many people have told me that they were blessed when they saw my testimony.

I welcome your comments, and until next time, Shabbat shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Chayei Sarah 2019 (Life of Sarah) Genesis 23 – 25:18

Sarah dies and Abraham buys a field that also has a sepulcher so that he can bury her.  He then has his most trusted servant, Eliezer, go back to the land from which Abraham came, to his own people in order to get a wife for Isaac. Under no conditions, though, is Eliezer ever to bring Isaac back to Ur.

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Eliezer stops at a well, which would be the place all the women would eventually come to and asks God for a specific sign that would identify the woman God wants to be Isaac’s wife. Rebekah, the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nachor, does exactly what Eliezer asked God to have the woman he chose to do, and immediately gives her gifts. When she returns to her tent, her brother, Laban sees the gifts and goes back to the well to bring Eliezer into their tent.

Time out.

Laban is motivated to be hospitable only because of the gifts Rebekah received. We can here see, for the first time, Laban’s true nature. Later in this book, we will see more of his greed and treachery in the way he treats Jacob.

Time in.

Eliezer is invited to eat but refuses to do so until he is able to secure their permission to bring Rebekah back to Isaac to be his wife. Rebekah agrees to go, and Laban, who seems to be speaking in the place of the father as leader of the family, also agrees to let her go (of course he would, given how rich Abraham is) and they leave the next day to return to Abraham. Isaac sees Rebekah on their way back, takes her into his mother’s tent and their marriage is consummated.

The parashah ends with the death of Abraham.

I could go on forever about this section of the Torah, the story of the first Patriarch of Judaism. There are many lessons for us here, but what struck me as I was reading was the prayer of Eliezer to have God give him a sign. It made me think about when Yeshua told Satan, quoting from the Tanakh (of course), that we are not to test the Lord, our God. I thought to myself, “Is it proper to ask God to provide a sign? Isn’t that the same thing as testing him?”

I believe there is a difference between asking for a sign and testing the Lord, but what is it?

In Judges 6:36-40, Gideon “threw the fleece before the Lord” in order to make sure that it was God speaking to him. This was, in truth, a test. After the fleece was found wet and the ground around it dry, Gideon then asked God to do it again, but this time have the fleece dry and the surrounding ground wet. And when he asked for God to give a sign twice, he apologized to God. To me, this indicates Gideon knew that what he was asking from God was wrong.

God tells us the only manner in which we are allowed to test him is in relation to tithing, which we find in Malachi 3:10, and that test is to first give the proper tithe, after which God will shower you with more blessings than you can imagine. This test is one where we don’t ask God to do something, but we do something that God promises to reward. It is a test of the Lord, but not a test of who or how powerful he is, rather that he is trustworthy to keep his promises.

I think the difference between asking for a sign and testing the Lord has to do with the reason we ask. If I am in need of confirmation that I am doing something right in God’s eyes, and I ask him to show me what he wants, that is not a test. It is a genuine request for help. However, if I tell God that unless he gives me a sign I will not believe in him…to me that sounds more like a test than asking for a sign.

Faith – true faith – is not asking God to prove anything. True faith is choosing to believe, without any proof. I don’t need a sign, or a miraculous event, or even a confirmation from someone else for me to believe that God exists and that he hears my prayers. Of course, when he does answer my prayers I am grateful, and it does confirm my faith; but because my faith is by choice and not based on any specific event, when I don’t get an answer it doesn’t reduce my faith.

I don’t need “proof” because I have faith; anyone who needs proof doesn’t have faith, and frankly, even if they believe because they got proof”, their faith will always be weak.

I believe, in fact I know, that anyone who believes in God because of some miraculous event will be the first to apostatize because we know (from reading Revelation) that the Enemy and the minions of the Enemy will perform many miracles, which will turn many away from the true faith. If your faith is based on a miracle, your future is questionable because if one miracle convinces you that God is real, then another miracle will turn you from God to Satan.

Now that we have discussed this, I think it is safe to say that when you pray to God and ask for signs or confirmation that will help you stay in his will and show you what he wants from you, that is acceptable and even a good thing to do. On the other hand, if you find yourself asking God to prove something, that is testing him.

Satan wants us to test God because he can perform miracles that will fool us into thinking he is God, and by the time we realize we were fooled, it will be too late. Eve found out too late that she had been fooled- don’t let that happen to you.

Thank you for being here; I hope this has been edifying and if so, please subscribe and share me out. I also welcome comments.

Shabbat shalom, and until next time L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!