Is Praying to a Saint Idolatry?

I have often considered, and said so, that when someone kneels before a statue of a saint, and prays to it, that it is a form of idolatry, violating the second commandment.

I checked this out on the Internet and found a post from the Diocese of Brooklyn (Yo, Brooklyn- fuhgeddaboudit), which explained that the commandment against graven images was, when taken in proper context, only regarding those specific images that people bow down and worship, such as the animal-like gods of Egypt. He added that God, himself, ordered the creation of graven images, such as the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, stating that these types of statues are not worshipped, but rather aid in the worship of God.

OK, that makes sense, to a degree, but what about praying to them?

The standard answer to that (again, from the RC’s) is that those people kneel as a sign of respect and are simply asking the saint to intercede for them.

Now I have to step back and say:

“Wait a minute! Why ask a saint to intercede when Yeshua says we should pray to God in his name?”

If Yeshua is at God’s right hand, and he- and he, alone- is the Messiah acting as our Intercessor, then why go to anyone else for help?

I mean, if you were hurt in an accident, and there was a doctor and a nurse both within shouting distance, would you ask the nurse to get the doctor? No, of course not! You would shout to the doctor for help.

I understand, and agree, with the idea that all things must be taken in the proper context when interpreting the Bible, but sometimes we can add a context when there isn’t any needed.

The Oxford Dictionary defines prayer as this:

a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship

Based on this definition, if I am asking help from anyone other than God, then I am praying to it. I am sorry, but if someone kneels before a statue of a saint and asks it to intercede on their behalf, there is no way to call that anything other than praying to that saint, which is, by definition, a form of worship.

And worship of anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is idolatry.

People pray all the time to saints and even to Yeshua, which goes against what Yeshua said to do because he said to pray in his name, not to pray to him! Essentially, praying to anyone or anything other than God is giving glory to that thing instead of to God.

So, Roman Catholic excuses notwithstanding, whereas I must admit that graven images are not all bad, I would say the ones God said are OK are the only ones we should deal with, and anything else is just asking for trouble. Human beings are sinful by nature, and if we have any chance to sin, we will probably take it, that’s why having images of people that we kneel before and pray to may not be meant as an idolatrous action, but it will lead to that, eventually.

Yes, God knows the heart, and I dearly hope that (for the sake of millions) he understands and forgives those people praying to images who think they are doing something that is OK; but, in reality, it is a form of worshiping that image and that is directing them away from God.

Prayer should always be directly to God, in the name of Yeshua acting as an Intercessor for our prayers, but NEVER as an Interceptor of them.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

Do You Pray Correctly?

Did you know that I wrote an entire book on Prayer?

(here’s a link to it: Prayer)

And yet, I still wonder if I am doing it in a way that honors God, is respectful to him, and appreciative that he listens. I think I pray correctly, but just in case, I always pray that God will help me to do so in a way that pleases him.

I developed a bad habit of praying every morning in my car when I would drive to work. Now, praying in the car each morning is not the bad thing: what was bad is that when I retired, and no longer began every day driving to work, I neglected to perform that daily prayer session. I still find the moment I get in my car, no matter where I am going, I pray, but at home when I am not going anywhere, well…like I said, it became a bad habit.

I believe the best way to pray is, of course, directly from the heart. I never, even way before I knew the Lord or accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, felt that praying to God using someone else’s words was right.

The prayer Yeshua gives us (Mattthew 6:5-15) is not just a prayer, but more of a template for all prayer, although it is a pretty good prayer, on its own. And, as a template, I use it to make sure my prayers are always in the same manner.

I start by acknowledging who God is, thanking him for all he has already done for me, and then asking for forgiveness of whatever sins I have committed against him (by the blood of the Messiah), as well as lifting up my wife and my children and their mother (from a previous life of mine). Even though they have made me their enemy, they are not mine, so I pray for them.

It also makes forgiving them easier, for they definitely sinned against me for many years, but that’s another story.

I ask not for anything other than to advance God’s word correctly, to always honor him in all I do and say (wow- do I ever fail at that!), and to be a better example to people of what it means to know and trust in God.

That’s it- if you do that, I am pretty sure you are praying correctly. Remember that Yeshua told of the tax collector and the Pharisee, the Pharisee praying thanks that he wasn’t like the sinners and the tax collector beating his chest, begging for forgiveness that he is such a sinner. Yeshua told us that the prayers of the sinner were more pleasing to God than those of the Pharisee.

When you pray, always do so humbly, ask only for that which you need, and trust God to answer your prayers with what he knows is best for you (which is usually not what we ask for, but definitely what we need).

And be patient, look for the answer (it isn’t always obvious), and remember our timing stinks, but God’s timing is perfect.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to this website and my YouTube channel, as well. Buy my books and share them with others. And join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (but make sure you click that you agree to the rules, or I can’t let you in).

And remember I love to hear back from you regarding what you think about these messages- please do so to help me stay on the right track.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

Repetition Isn’t Respect

I haven’t been very dutiful in my posting the last couple of weeks, and I probably won’t post again for another week or two. I am getting surgery on my back to fuse my L5 vertebrae to L4 since the L5 is shifting. I have been dealing (painfully) with sciatica for two years now, and this is the third time I go “under the knife”. God willing, this will be the fix. I know I can count on your prayers for me, and I thank you for them.

OK- now down to business…

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

How often have you heard people say “Father God” or “Lord” about a thousand times while praying?

Do you know someone who, when just talking with you, has to acknowledge God in some way, in nearly every other sentence? They talk like this:

“As I was walking home the other day, praise the Lord, I saw my friend who by God’s Grace I have known for a long time. And she has been in good health, thanks to God, my savior, for a while now, and praise the Lord that she yadda, yadda, yadda….”

Look- I am not trying to insult or berate anyone, but really? Can’t you finish a complete thought without having to praise or recognize God in some way?

Here’s why I am writing about what could be just a pet peeve of mine: I believe that automatic and repetitive reference to God becomes empty praise.

What I am saying is that when we say the same thing, over and over, it becomes standard practice, essentially rote repetition, and after a very short time it will become the way we talk, but it will have no essence.

When people continually refer to God in their speech or prayer and do it so often that it becomes a pattern, the heartfelt desire to honor God is no longer why they do it- it now just habit.

When we do or say things so often that we don’t even think about it, it means nothing anymore.

I rarely refer to God in my everyday speech or when I pray after I have already addressed him at the start. I don’t continually interject “Father God” or “Lord” or any direct reference to God- I really think he knows who I’m talking to. And, despite his age, I don’t think he has a problem with short-term memory, so I don’t feel the need to constantly remind him who I am talking to.

My concern, again, is that people who constantly refer to God in one way or another as part of their prayer or speech patterns become inured to why we refer to God in the first place, which is to honor him in all we say and do.

So, if you are feeling that I am picking on you, it is probably because you are one of those who constantly refer to God in your speech and prayer. If so, I am sorry if you feel insulted, but I really think you should consider that by referring to God in every other sentence you have reduced consciously honoring him to nothing more than mindless conditioning.

And I can be fairly certain that the people you are talking to, especially people who aren’t as “spiritually invested” as you are, believe it is fake spirituality and not a real love for God.

You know? Sometimes I think the Lord is sitting on his throne, hearing people refer to him over and over again, and is saying to himself:

“Just talk to me- I already know who I am.”

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (please make sure you click that you agree to the rules, or I can’t let you in), and buy my books. If you like what you get here, you will like my books, as well.

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

Time to Plug My Books

I received an email the other day from someone who wanted to help me sell my books. They “invited” me to do an interview that would be run on YouTube, as well as multiple ads in different media outlets. It wasn’t much of an invitation because they wanted me to pay then about $2500! When I said that was too much, suddenly they are offering me less than half of that, supposedly for the same exposure, but when I checked out their website, the interviews on YouTube had only a handful of views. So, I said “Thanks, but no thanks.”

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

However, it did make me realize that a short “Please buy my books” at the end of my messages didn’t really give these books the respect and indicate the importance I feel they can have in someone’s spiritual growth.

So, today I am going to plug my books the way they should be plugged!

My first book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion” was written over 14 years ago, and it identifies a number of differences between what God says in the Bible and what different religions teach. The book deals with such topics as “Is Celibacy a Commandment?”, “Kosher is Not Just for Jews”, “Holy Day vs. Holiday”, and “Hidden Idolatry”, to name a few. I highly recommend it to those who are questioning what they have been taught all their life.

The next book I wrote is called “Prayer…What It Is and How It Works”. This is a compilation of many of the messages I have written about prayer over the 10 or more years I have had this ministry. Some of the topics discussed deal with “Am I Praying Correctly?”, “Power of Prayer or Power of God?”, “Spiritual Aspirin”, and “Be Careful What You Pray for Because You Might Just Get It.”. This book is designed to help us understand not just how to pray, but what happens when we pray and what to expect from it.

The third book I wrote is called “Parashot Drashim”, which translates roughly to “Discussions about the Torah readings”. This book, like my book about prayer, was sourced from the many times over the many years I have written messages regarding the Torah reading for that week. It is useful in many ways: you can use this as fodder for a sermon, as a commentary, as a source for a Bible study, or just as a way to get to know the Torah better. It is the thickest book I have written, to date, but as with all my books, I believe you will find it to be an “easy read”.

My most recent book is called “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews: Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah“. I must say, although I am proud of what I have written, this is the book that- for me- ties it all together. The title may say this is for Jews, but it is for Gentiles, as well. I wanted the title to make Jews curious, since my people are immediately turned off by anything having to do with Jesus, which is why I feel they are more in need of understanding the lies that we Jews have been told, by Jews, about Jesus (most Jews don’t even know his real name, “Yeshua”). However, these lies have also misled Christians about what God wants from them. Some of the topics include the lie that Jesus created Christianity, that all sins are automatically forgiven, that believing in Jesus means you have converted to Christianity, and that Jews have the Torah while Gentiles have Grace, as well as other lies that have served to do nothing but mislead both Jews and Christians about who Yeshua is and what he taught.
I do have a professional video ad for this book, and if you want to watch it, click here.

Currently I am working on a fifth book, which I am writing for people who are curious about what the Bible says, but don’t want to have to read the whole thing. I hope to have a working title and publish this book by the end of 2023.

You won’t find a bibliography or footnotes in any of my books. There is no Bibliography because the Bible is my only source document: it contains all I need in order to truthfully and accurately discuss what God says and what Yeshua taught. When referring to something the Bible says, I place the reference right there in the text- I don’t use footnotes because I think it makes reading the book easier.

I have tried my best to write these books in a conversational style, meaning that when you read them you feel like we are sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee or tea, just relaxing and talking. I try to use a little humor, now and then, just to make it more fun. The one thing I can promise you, absolutely, is that these books do NOT read like a textbook.

The pricing is very reasonable, and all my books are available on Amazon (and other sites) in either paperback or Kindle format. The Kindle pricing is just a few bucks, so how bad can that be?

And everyone- all three of them- who have read my books loved them.

I encourage you, if you like anything you read or hear in my messages, to buy my books and share them. I did not write them to become a millionaire and get on the NYT Best Seller List (although that would be OK with me), but rather as a means of sharing what I feel God has shown me through his Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) about him and his Messiah.

As that nice Jewish tent maker from Tarsus told the congregation he formed in Corinth: “Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31). I am boasting about these books because I believe when I wrote them, I was being led by God’s Spirit to give you what you need to know in order to make an informed decision about where you will spend eternity.

I ‘d like to know whether or not you agree with me about that, so please read these books and let me know if you do.

Thank you for your continued support by subscribing to my website and YouTube channel, as well as sharing these messages with everyone you know to help this ministry continue to grow. I invite you (at no cost) to join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word”, but please make sure you click that you agree to the rules, or I can’t let you in.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and let me wish you an early Shabbat Shalom!

Do We Really Have to Pray Everything in Yeshua’s Name?

In the Gospel of John, specifically John 14:13, Yeshua tells his disciples that whatever they ask for, when they ask it in his name, he will do. He said this is the way he will glorify his Father.

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

But does that mean every time we pray, no matter what the prayer, we have to do it in “the name of Yeshua”?

What about when we give thanks to God? Praying a thanksgiving prayer isn’t asking for anything, so I don’t reference Yeshua at all when I thank God for whatever I am being thankful for.

And that is usually everything- my marriage with Donna, my salvation through Messiah, the good health that Donna and I still have, financial comfort, a home, etc., ad infinitum.

And when I do ask for something important, such as forgiveness (which I do every day, whether I know I sinned or not, because I know I probably did sin, sometime), I ask by the blood of the Messiah, which is the means by which we receive forgiveness.

And if I am just talking with God (99.9% of the time I talk and he listens, but every now and then, I do get a message or an answer from him, which is always a quiet, still voice in the back of my head) I find no need to end it by referencing Yeshua.

And I do not pray to Yeshua. Even for those who believe he is also God, he is at this time sitting at God’s right hand and his role, in God’s own plan of salvation, is that of our Messiah. To pray to him is to ignore God, sitting to his left, and is, in truth, a form of idolatry.

Our salvation is not through Yeshua, but by means of the sacrifice he made: he is our Intercessor of prayer, not the Interceptor of it.

If you believe Yeshua, God, and the Holy Spirit are one-and-the-same entity, that doesn’t change the fact that Yeshua came to earth to be the Messiah- a separate being, and as such, to ignore his choice to be separate at this time is to ignore his sacrifice and, essentially, reject what he suffered through for you as Yeshua, the Messiah.

Think about that.

So, when you pray for something- and I don’t mean for nice weather or a new car, which is generally OK to pray for- and you want to pray “in Yeshua’s name” (which doesn’t mean to him, but to reference his sacrifice which made your salvation through forgiveness possible), then do so.

But if you are just thanking God, or talking with God, or having a drash with God over some biblical passage you can’t understand, don’t waste the power that Yeshua’s name has by using it when you don’t need to.

Use the power that Yeshua’s name gives you in prayer sparingly, respectfully, and effectively.

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

And one last thing: remember that I always welcome your comments.

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

Are You Only Preaching to the Choir?

Before we start, I wanted to let you know I have published my 4th book, “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews”, Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah. It is not just for Jews, of course, but for both Jews and Christians who have been told many wrong things about Yeshua (Jesus) over the millennia, and this book will speak to who he really is and what he really taught. I like all the books I have written, of course, but I think this one is my best work. It is available in paperback and Kindle format, and you can order it through Amazon or use the link on my website.

OK, let’s get to today’s message…

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

Over the years I have had this ministry, which is going on 8 years now, I have very often heard feedback from people that when I talk about being called “Christ killer” they say they have been raised Christian and never heard anyone say that. I have also had Born Again Christians tell me things that I knew were subtly anti-Semitic, but they believed they were telling me just what Jesus had preached.

My wife was raised Catholic (I won’t even start on the historic treatment of Jews by Catholicism) and when I asked her if she knew anyone who called her Jewish friends “Christ killer”, she said she never heard them do that. My next question was whether or not, having spent 12 years going to Catholic school, she even knew any Jews growing up, and she said she didn’t. So, naturally, she never knew Gentiles used that derogatory accusation.

She, along with many other Gentiles I have known over my lifetime, has always been cocooned within her own religion. She hung around with Catholics and when she started working, she was with mostly Gentiles. I was one of the very first Jews she actually got to know well, so I tell her she has always had a heart for the Jewish people because the first Jew she really got to know, she married.

If you have not been exposed to the bigotry of the Christian world against Jews, or for that matter, the bigotry of Judaism against Christianity, consider yourself blessed, but at the same time somewhat naive or cocooned. Many Christians I know who do accept that the Torah is still valid and want to be closer to their Jewish roots are oblivious to the way Christianity has treated Jews, not just with physical atrocities such as the Crusades and the Inquisition but through misinterpretations of the Gospels and (especially) the letters Shaul (Paul) wrote.

I have been accused, nicely, of having the “wrong spirit” and thinking that all Christians follow the pagan influences still found within many Christian religions. And who do I get this from? The ones who have been taught the correct worship of God and have been raised in (for lack of a better term) a pro-Torah environment.

These God-fearing Gentiles who worship God more in line with the way he said to instead of what traditional Christianity has taught, accuse me of bigotry against Christians, which isn’t far from the truth.

I confess that I do not like Christianity, but that doesn’t mean I hate Christians. I hate sin but love the sinner, so in the same way, I understand most- actually the vast majority- of Christians have no idea at all about what is in the Bible or what Yeshua taught. All they know is what they were told.

And I feel the same way about Judaism: the Reform Jews reject much of what the Torah says, the Conservative Jews have Kosher homes but eat out at Bob Evans Restaurants, and the Orthodox treat the Talmud as scripture!

The main thing that Judaism and Christianity have in common, besides a belief in God, is that they both lie about who Jesus is and what he taught.

If you think what I have been saying is a bunch of fertilizer, then you must be one of those cocooned types, who has never really been exposed to the true darkness in the world and seen the animosity between Christians and Jews. Please believe me- it IS there!

And so what do we do about it? Well, for me, this ministry is what I am doing about it. I am trying to get the truth about who Yeshua was and what he taught. Most of all, I would love to be able to get Jews to know that modern Christianity has almost nothing to do with what Yeshua taught or what Shaul (Paul) meant when he wrote his letters. This ministry is devoted to giving all people the data they need to be able to make an informed decision about where they will spend eternity: the way we live now will decide where we go then.

That is why I almost never quote from an extra-biblical source, always using the Bible as my justification. And I do not take things out of context but do my best to be hermeneutically correct and biblically sound in my opinions. I trust the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) that I felt going into my body all those years ago to guide me.

And I am still wrong sometimes, so when I ask people for feedback I really mean it. I will always keep an open mind, but never change my faithful understanding or reject my desire to do as God said we should do, and the only place he did that was in the Torah.

God has no religion, just his instructions to all of us on how to worship him and treat each other. The Jewish people received these instructions first, but not exclusively: God told Moses to teach the people the Torah and that the Israelites will be his (God’s) nation of priests to the world (Exodus 19:6). Obviously, that means God intended the Jews to teach everyone else the Torah so that we could all do as God says.

Religion has rejected God’s ways and created its own ways- and I include Judaism- which is why there are so many different ways to worship God, so many different rituals and rites, and so many different rules about diet, holidays, and lifestyle.

It’s up to you to find out what the real world is like, how Judaism and Christianity have treated each other over the millennia, and take off the rose-colored glasses. The real world is an ignorant and evil place, and there are so many lies that have been floating around for millennia that we, those who know God, Yeshua, and recognize the validity of God’s instructions in the Torah, must be able to deal with this and teach these poor ignorant souls the truth so they have a chance for redemption.

Remember this: God told his prophets that if they did not tell the people what God says, then the people’s blood is on the prophet’s head. However, if he tells them what God says and they still reject him, then their blood is on their own head and the prophet is guiltless. I don’t know about you, but given the choice of being popular and guilty, or unpopular and guiltless, I choose unpopular.

One last thing: telling people the truth does NOT mean insulting them! When you tell the truth, you do not have the right to accuse anyone of being spiritually weak, evil, paganistic, or any other sort of attack against them as a person- that is wrong and a sin! You can attack their beliefs, you can attack their misunderstanding, but you can never attack them.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know to help this ministry grow. Subscribe here and on my YouTube channel, as well, and please let me know if you like or dislike what I say. Hey, if you feel I am wrong don’t hesitate to tell me why. It’s always nice to know someone takes the time to respond.

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

Parashah Naso 2019 (Take) Numbers 4:21 – 7

Moses continues to outline the duties of the Levitical clans, which began in the last parashah. After having ordered each family of the Levites to perform their specific duties regarding the Tabernacle, Moses moves on to further outline how the camp is to be set up.

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

The unclean were to be removed from within the camp and placed outside of it. This is to safeguard the ceremonial purity of the camp.

Next, Moses details the process for a husband who suspects his wife has been unfaithful to prove her faithful or adulterous. This involves providing a grain sacrifice and her drinking of special water, accompanied by the woman pronouncing a curse on herself if she has been unfaithful.

The instructions for taking the vow of a Nazarite are reviewed, and then in Chapter 6, verses 24-26 God tells us how he wants the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) to bless the children of Israel, which we call the Aaronic Blessing. This is also used in Christian services, and it goes like this:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee;

The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious to thee;

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 

Each of the 12 tribes brings a gift for the tabernacle, which comes to a total of six covered wagons and 12 oxen. These were distributed to the Levitical families for their use in transporting the tabernacle.

The parashah ends with the people of Israel offering an additional gift, each tribe giving the exact same things in the exact same weight and number:

one silver dish and one silver basin, both filled with fine flour mingled with oil, one golden pan full of incense, one young bullock, one ram, and one he-lamb of the first year (for a burnt offering), one male goat for a sin offering, and 2 oxen, 5 rams, five male goats, and five male lambs all presented for a peace offering.

Each tribe presented their gift on a different day until all 11 tribes (Levites were excluded) had given their gifts.

Today I want to talk about the Aaronic (or Priestly) Blessing, which is so beautiful; it is both simple in its form yet complex in its meaning.

The prayer is composed of three short verses, of 3, 5, and 7 words (in the Hebrew), gradually asking first for material blessing, then a spiritual blessing, and finally for the ultimate gift from God- peace. Traditionally, the prayer is to be offered in Hebrew and only by a Priest.

As I have often stated, not all traditions are bad, and as far as this one goes I would have to say that within the Messianic community (which would include Christians who are “Born Again”) it would be OK for someone to ask a blessing from God for someone else, so long as they invoke the name of Messiah when they ask.

You see, the Jewish requirement for only a Priest to give the Aaronic Blessing is based on the need for the person offering the blessing to be not just sober, but also worshipful, faithful, ceremonially clean, and prayerful. For most people, this isn’t going to be their normal state of being.

However, for those that have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and have the indwelling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), they should “measure up” to these standards. By also invoking the name of the Messiah, any shortcomings in their holiness would be offset, so to speak, through Yeshua’s intervention.

When I have served in the position of Rabbi or Cantor (although I am not officially ordained as either) in the houses of worship which I have attended over the years, I offered this prayer in Hebrew just as it is, not invoking the name of Yeshua. I also then repeated it in English for the benefit of those who didn’t know what the Hebrew meant. I do not believe that I was doing anything wrong by omitting “In the name of Yeshua, the Messiah” because at that time, I was in the position and authority of a Cohen. However, if I was asked to give this blessing to someone on the street, I might include a “B’shem Yeshua Ha Mashiach” at the end of it, just to be safe.

The Aaronic Blessing is both a prayer and a blessing because what we are really doing is requesting God to provide the things we specify; first, we cover material needs, then spiritual needs, and finally, we ask for God’s peace of body, mind, and spirit so that we can have complete joy.

In conclusion of today’s message, let me offer this blessing to you in the name of our Messiah, Yeshua (click on the link and make sure your audio is not muted):

Aaronic Blessing


Thank you for being here and please don’t forget to subscribe.

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Tonight begins Shabbat, so Shabbat Shalom, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Kol Nidre Message 2018

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

This night, September 18, 2018, is Kol Nidre, the eve of Yom Kippur. As such I would like to share the traditional message I used to give when I was “acting” Rabbi (for about 1-1/2 years) at the Northeast Philadelphia Messianic Synagogue I had attended for 17 years.

Before we go into the message, I have a beautiful rendering of the Kol Nidre prayer which you can watch by clicking on this link: Kol Nidre.

For centuries, the Kol Nidre prayer has been used as a polemic against the Jewish people, accusing us of being untrustworthy and stating that our word is useless.  At one point there was even a movement within Judaism to remove this prayer. That movement came to a stop once it was discovered that the prayer dates back to 17th Century Spain, where persecution of the Jews was taking place under the Inquisition. Many thousands of Jews were forced to forgo their beliefs and swear allegiance to Christianity or suffer torture and death.  That is why even though the Torah requires us to strictly adhere to any oaths we take, this prayer seems to be an anomaly; however, we are not asking to be released from valid oaths and contracts we make but only from those oaths we were coerced into making.

On this day, when we ask God to forgive us our sins, we must realize that we have an obligation to forgive those that have sinned against us.  And not just to forgive others, but to forgive ourselves, as well.

It is strange that we are willing sometimes to forgive others their sins against us but we will not forgive ourselves for sins we have committed against others. After all, if we love others enough to forgive them their sins, shouldn’t we love ourselves enough to forgive our sins? Doesn’t it say in Leviticus 19:18, “Love thy neighbor as thyself?” If we love our neighbor enough to forgive them, then shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves?

If I ask God for forgiveness but refuse to forgive myself, then I am placing myself above God!  So many times I have heard someone say, “How can God possibly forgive me for this?” That person doesn’t understand Grace and doesn’t understand that God is able to do so much more than we can.  In Romans 5:20 we are told that where sin is increased, so too is Grace.  There is no sin too great or too horrible for God to forgive. 

And God is not just willing to forgive: he desires to forgive! He is so compassionate that he assumes our sins are accidental.  Numbers 15:25-26 states that we will be forgiven from our sins we did “in error”; in other words, God assumes that we did not intend to sin but that we did it by accident!  What a wonderful demonstration of the compassionate understanding and forgiving nature of God! 

But let us not forget that disobedience of the Torah is still rebellion and a sin. And the wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23.) However, because of God’s forgiving nature, he is willing to see our sins as his children making a foolish mistake.  However, that is no reason for you to get comfortable with your sin- sin MUST be removed from our lives if we want to be with God eternally. He may look upon us with compassion and love but he is still God, and there can be no sin in his presence.

Too many people have been taught that “Once saved, always saved” is how things work under the blood of Yeshua. That is a lie. We are not to take advantage of God’s willingness to forgive us and just assume he will, which can only lead to an attitude of unrepentance. If we think it is OK to sin now and then, that is like trampling the blood of Messiah into the dirt. Even though God understands it is our nature to do so, it is NEVER acceptable to sin.

Because we cannot overcome our nature, Yeshua came to earth and sacrificed himself for us so that through his goodness we have the opportunity to overcome our sinfulness.

Today we pray for forgiveness and ask God for the atonement of our sins. This is a process:

  1. First, we must recognize our sin and take responsibility for it so we recite the Al Chet prayer, also called the Ashamnoo (we are guilty);
  2. We must choose to do Teshuvah (repent) and remove sin from our lives;
  3. Once we have done these two things, only then can we ask God to forgive us. Because we cannot sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem, we ask forgiveness through the blood of the Messiah, who gave his life as a ransom for us over 2,000 years ago and through his innocent shedding of blood we can receive forgiveness (Messianic Jews/Hebrews 9:22.) 

Some of you may be asking why bother to go through fasting and prayer to ask forgiveness when we already have it through Yeshua ha Mashiach?  The answer is simple: because it is a commandment! Besides that, don’t we still sin? Don’t we still need to ask forgiveness? “Once saved, always saved” is hogwash and a lie from the pit of Sheol which is designed to keep us out of God’s Grace. We need to ask forgiveness of our sin(s) every single day! Maybe even more than once per day. So, nu? If we are to ask forgiveness any time we sin, why should we not ask on this day, the one day that God specifically said we should?  

Another reason is to show solidarity with our unsaved Jewish brothers and sisters. Look at the prayers we recite on this day (the Al Chet and the Amidah) – they ask forgiveness for the sins WE have committed. Not the sins I have, but the sins we have committed. These prayers are community prayers because in Judaism God sees the entire nation of Israel as a single entity. We are not just responsible for our own sins, but for the sins of all Jews; those who came before us and those who are with us. 

One last word: what we do on this day is not to be left in the Synagogue or Church- we are to take this attitude of Teshuvah and forgiveness for others out into the world. Going to Shul on the High Holy Days isn’t enough. We meet together to reinforce each other and to strengthen each other so that we are able to go back out there- back into the darkness to be a light. What we do today is what we should be doing every day.

So whether you are attending Shul all day or staying home and worshiping with God alone, take what you do out into the world with you tomorrow and every day thereafter.


This is a spiritually mature topic, and without years of study in the Word, and even then only with the guidance of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), many still may not be able to understand the answer, so please don’t be upset if what you read below is confusing.

The answer to the question, “How does God answer prayer?” is this:

It’ll be either “Yes” or “No.”

Actually, that isn’t all that hard to understand, after all… is it? What is hard to accept is that when all is said and done, God always does what is best for us, even though we may not agree with Him at the time.

If you get a “No”, that’s the easier of the two to handle, because it’s final. With God, “No” is “No”- even Yeshua (Jesus) knew that, and told His disciples that is what they should do, in Mattitayu (Matthew) 5:37 when He said:

 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

So if you get a “No” from God, accept it, and move on.

It’s when God tells you “Yes” that you will have hard work ahead of you.  Why? Because when God answers you with a “Yes”, that means He has a plan for you with regard to what you asked.

If you are one of the rare exceptions where God answers you with what you asked for, and when you asked for it, WOW!  That is really a rarity, and you should get on your face and thank Him.

Most likely it will not happen that way, and His answer will come to you in three phases.

Phase One: When God says yes to a prayer request, it is almost always because what you asked for is in His will for you, and He will have something that you must do. After you have received His answer, if you fail to recognize or act on it, you will have rejected God’s command- that is never a good thing to do. Just ask Jonah. So, if you get a “Yes”, you’d better get ready for the other shoe to drop.

Phase Two: The prayer you presented to God is going to be answered, but what you asked for may not be exactly what you get. We don’t always know what is best for us; in fact, we rarely know what is best for us, and almost always know what is the worst thing we can do to ourselves, which is almost always exactly what we do. It’s remarkable that we live long enough to realize how foolish we are! God’s plan is not always your plan (there is an old adage” If you want to make God laugh, tell Him what your plans are.”), and what He wants to be done is what will, eventually, be done. Since the answer to your prayer may not be what you were expecting, you need to remember that an answer is coming and constantly be watching for it.

Which brings us to Phase Three.

Phase Three: You never know when the answer is going to come. You may want such-and-such, and want it now, but you will more likely get so-and-so, and whenever God knows is the right time to receive it.  God’s plans and His timing are perfect, and our plans and timing stink; God will give you His answer exactly when you need it, which is rarely when you expect it to come.

So there you have it: if you ask for something from God in prayer, always (of course) invoking the name of Yeshua Ha Maschiach, He will answer you, which will be either “Yes” or “No“.   If you get a “No”, you get off easy.

If you get a “Yes”, better be prepared to follow up: be alert for the answer and steel yourself to accept His answer and act on it.

Otherwise, you’re better off not asking for anything, at all.

prayer spam

When the Talmudim (Disciples/students) of Yeshua asked Him how they should pray, well….we all know His answer. But do we think about the line that goes, “Give us this day our daily bread…”? Do we think about what He might have meant by that?

Not the P’shat, which means the written word as it is written, but the Drash– the underlying, spiritual meaning.

I believe what Yeshua was saying was that when we pray, we need to ask only for what we need, then and there. Not for success in life, not for riches or fame, not for next week’s presentation to the Board, but for now. Right now, and only right now, and only what I need right now. I also think that God wants our prayers to go to Him, to the Father, to be delivered in the name of the Son. Not to the Son, not to a “Saint” who is supposed to, what? Intercede with Yeshua (Jesus) to intercede with God? Didn’t Yeshua say the ONLY way to the Father is through the Son (John 14:6)?

What does that mean? It means that our prayers are to be sent to the Father in the name of the Son, and not to the Son for Him to bring to the Father. When we pray to anyone, or anything (even worse!) other than God, Himself- God the Father, God the Creator, God the one and only and God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- then we are committing idolatry.

And when we pray to God, do we pray for what we need now, and only what we need now? I have heard people pray, and I believe their prayers are earnest, but they pray for the same thing over and over, they use “Father God” over, and over, and over- the way a “Valley Girl” uses the work “like”- until I have to think that God is saying to Himself, “All right, already- I know who I am! Just ask for what you want and leave all the ‘Father God this’ and ‘Father God that’ out of it! Oy!”

Don’t pray spam to God. He wants to hear from your heart. I have seen people pause during prayer and I can see them start to sweat trying to think of something else to say. If you have nothing more to say, than what you should say is: nothing more. Just stop. Just end the endless stream of useless words and catch-phrases that are supposed to make you sound like Solomon blessing the Temple. That was a long prayer, and it was a really good one. But long doesn’t mean better. How about Moses’ prayer (Numbers 12:13) when Miriam was struck by God with leprosy? Did he go on and on, or did he just say, “Oh Lord- please heal her!”

Moses found those 5 words to be as effective and meaningful as an entire thesis presented by a graduate student in Theology. God doesn’t just see the heart, He hears the heart.

We see someone who is homeless and downtrodden and (usually) think the worst, yet God sees Job during his trials of faith. We see someone who is mentally or physically challenged and thank God it isn’t us, and God sees a caring, faithful and compassionate person who is thankful that no one else they know has the same problems.

The words we use when we pray are not as important as the condition of our heart. When King David prayed for forgiveness in Psalm 51, he said that God will not despise a broken heart and a contrite spirit. It is the condition of our heart that generates prayer pleasing to the Lord; the fancy King James style words we use, the number of times we say “Oh Lord” or “Father God”, or the length of prayer is all totally meaningless. That is only pleasing to humans who know only what they see and hear. People only see the P’shat of the world, and not the Drash of humanity. I think people just pray “spam” when they use fancy words and long, poetic phrases meant to impress the people around them, and I just have to believe that God is thinking, “Your prayer is to Me, but I know the way you are praying is to impress those around you, so let them answer your prayer.”

Remember: when you pray, God already knows what you need. He knows what you want, He knows is best for you, and He will deliver it when He knows the time is right for you. What you say will not influence His decision but what you feel in your heart will.

When you pray remember the advice Yeshua gave His Talmudim in the Gospels- do not worry about what to say because the Ruach (Spirit) will give you what you need. Trust in the Spirit to guide your prayer and don’t pray from your mouth: pray from your heart.