Latest Blog Posts

Posted October 28, 2016 - 8:21am

Parashat B’reisheet is always filled with fascination and intrigue whenever we study it. There are so many facets of the Creation account to explore that it would take a lifetime to begin unraveling them. For instance, on the first day of Creation, we read about the creation of light:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:3–5)

Although light is created on the first day, the sun, moon and stars are not created until the fourth day. If these luminaries were not created until the fourth day, then what was the light that illuminated the first three days? Fortunately, we have insights of our sages from the last two millennia that help us peer into the deep mysteries of these events. When Rashi, the famous medieval commentator, read this passage his response was that it cannot be properly understood without outside commentary, particularly the midrash.

What does the midrash have to say about this passage? It has more than we have time to cover here. But the main concept we need to understand is that this light that was first spoken into existence is unique and distinct from the light produced by the luminaries. It was a special, pure light that radiated from God himself. The Torah gives us a clue about the quality of this light when it says, “And God saw that the light was good.” It was the first of all Creation to have this special designation of “good.” According to Rabbi Elazar, in a midrash called Yalkut Shimoni, the light that God created on the first day was used by Adam to look from one end of the universe to the other. It was something extremely special.

Posted October 27, 2016 - 5:13am

Rabbi Tarfon said: The day is short, the task is great, the laborers are lazy, the wage is abundant and the master is urgent. (m.Avot 2:20)

If you’ve been a student of the Apostolic Scriptures for any length of time you are sure to recognize the similarities between the words of Rabbi Tarfon and those of our Master Yeshua. Rabbi Tarfon said, “The day is short, the task is great, the laborers are lazy, the wage is abundant and the master is urgent.” Yeshua said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). 

According to both Yeshua and Rabbi Tarfon, there is pressing business at hand and diligent workers are desperately needed for it. But what is the task, and why is there an urgent need for workers? For Yeshua’s disciples it may seem obvious. From a traditional perspective we would say that the task for followers of Yeshua is evangelism. It would seem our goal is to “save souls.” However, reducing down Yeshua’s message of good news to saving souls is a very limiting perspective of his redemptive plan and does not necessarily change the quality of a person’s life in his present circumstances.

What if Rabbi Yeshua’s urgent task was more congruent with that of Rabbi Tarfon’s than we might imagine? What was Rabbi Tarfon’s urgent task? We are given a few clues in the next mishnah, where he continues by saying, “It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it” (Avot 2:21). What task is so great that we cannot expect to complete it, but yet we are required to engage in it? The answer is tikkun olam

Posted October 17, 2016 - 8:28am

In response to a question asking “Who is my neighbor?” Yeshua told the following parable:

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:30–32)

When Yeshua told the parable of the Good Samaritan, he used the imagery of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho falling into the hands of bandits. Left for dead, his only hope was for a fellow traveler to notice and have pity on him. His first hope was from a Kohen (priest), whose duty was to minister to the LORD on behalf of the children of Israel. His piety would have been assumed by Yeshua’s audience, and he would have been the naturally anticipated hero to the story. However, as we know, the Kohen passes him by without stopping. 

Yeshua next introduces a Levite, one whose duty was similar to the Kohen, but functioned more like an assistant to the Kohanim (priests) in the Temple. Surely, he would stop and help this man who was struggling for his life. But no, the Levite passes him by and continues on his way just as the Kohen. At this point, Yeshua’s audience was surely shocked that neither the Kohen nor the Levite turned out to be the hero of the story. But before we discuss Yeshua’s surprise ending to his parable, we need to try and understand why Yeshua would have had both the Kohen and the Levite pass up this poor man struggling for his life. Why did both the Kohen and the Levite pass up the dying man?

Our answer begins with the regulations for the priesthood found in Leviticus 21:

Posted October 14, 2016 - 8:00am

This week’s Torah portion is only a single chapter long. The Ha’azinu, the Song of Moses, spans all fifty-two verses of our Torah portion. When reading this parashah, there are several questions that come up. We will only have time to answer a few at this time. 

First, in a Torah scroll the Song of Moses is written in two columns, rather than one. Why does this passage merit this unique rendering? The song opens with the words:

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. (Deuteronomy 32:1)

Moses introduces this song by calling upon two witnesses: the heavens and the earth. The Torah sets a precedent that a matter is only established by the testimony of two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). By calling on both the heavens and the earth, Moses establishes his two witnesses against the Children of Israel to hold them accountable for their actions. The two columns of the Torah scroll are a reminder of this fact: two witness are being called to the stand; two witnesses are watching the Children of the Most High at all times.

Second, why does Moses ask both the heavens and the earth to listen to him? Why are the heavens and the earth called to be witnesses against humans? Just before giving us the details of the creation of man in Genesis 2, the Torah tells us that man is the combined product of both heaven and earth:

These are the generations [toldot] of the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 2:4)

The word toldot can mean generations, offspring, genealogy, etc. Man was made as a combination of both heaven and earth when the Creator breathed a small portion of Himself into the dust of the earth. Heaven and earth, therefore, are partially responsible to oversee the actions of mankind.


Latest Book Review

The Magerman Edition

Author: Daniel Rose & Jay Goldmintz
Publisher: Koren Publishers
Year: 2014

The Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur is one of the latest in Koren’s growing collection of siddurim (prayer books) geared towards a specific demographic. Koren describes Ani Tefilla as “an engaging and thought-provoking siddur for the inquiring high school student and thoughtful adult.” Koren says that Ani Tefillah has been developed in order “to help the user create their own meaning and connection during the Tefilla [prayer] experience.” The name of the siddur is connected with its objective. Ani Tefilla means “I pray.” 


Welcome to Emet HaTorah! We're blessed to have you here! We hope to be an online source for discipleship resources from a Messianic Jewish perspective. If you're new to Emet HaTorah have a look around and enjoy some of our online teaching resources and sign up for our monthly newsletter. You'll be blessed!