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Posted October 26, 2018 - 2:53pm

Unlocking The Secret To Immortality

Parashat Vayeira (Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Followers of Yeshua generally understand the concept of life-after-death. Our eternal hope is in the resurrection of the dead and the life we will enjoy in our immortal bodies. Yeshua speaks of this eternal life in Matthew 25. Paul explains this reality by saying, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Our eternal resurrection will be the defeat of the ultimate enemy: death. This is the understanding many have of immortality and how we enter into it. However, there may be another aspect of immortality and a way we can achieve it now, even while we live in this world. Let’s turn to our parashah to help us understand this concept.

In Parashat Vayeira Abraham and Sarah are visited by three men who turn out to be angelic messengers. They have come for at least two specific purposes. The first is to deliver the good news to Abraham and Sarah that Isaac will be born to them the following year. But they have also come to bring judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns. At first it appears that they will forego letting Abraham in on their plans. However, as they begin to set out toward Sodom, the LORD says, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” (Genesis 18:17–18). He chooses to reveal His plans to Abraham.

But in the very next verse, Hashem gives the reason He has chosen Abraham to occupy a special place in His mission among all mankind:

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. (Genesis 18:19)

Posted October 19, 2018 - 9:58am

Changing The Future

Parashat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

At the beginning of our parashah we learn about the calling of a man named Abram. The LORD would eventually change his name to Abraham, but while he was still called Abram, the Creator of the Universe summoned him out from among his people and into His service. He immediately left a city named Haran and headed toward Canaan, the land God would eventually give to him and his descendants. When he reach Canaan, however, the Torah details Abram’s encampments, naming them individually beginning with Shechem, as it says, “Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh” (Genesis 12:6). Ramban (Nachmanides) takes note of this and asks why the Torah records these encampments. He answers his own question by saying the Torah is teaching us a valuable lesson. It is a principle of the Torah which states, ma’asei avot siman l’banim, “The deeds of the fathers are portents / signs for the children.”

Abraham—the father of the Israelite nation and the father of faith to all who believe—set the pattern for those who would come after him. His actions set in motion this spiritual principle. Everything he did became a blueprint for both his natural children and his spiritual children. We can see this principle being played out in the lives of Abraham’s children and grandchildren. Both Isaac and Jacob often retrace the steps of Abraham and imitate his actions. For instance, when Abraham settles in the land of the Philistines, he tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister and the king takes her for himself. When Isaac journeys to the same area he repeats this same ruse with Rebecca with the same results.

Posted September 28, 2018 - 7:25am

Imitating God

Parashat Vezot ha'Brachah (Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12)

A fundamental concept within Judaism is that we are to imitate God in certain ways. This concept is known as imitatio Dei, or imitation of the Divine. We can see this pattern in several places in the Scriptures, but one of the most explicit is Leviticus 19:2. It says, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” We imitate Hashem’s holiness, His uniqueness, when we imitate His deeds. 

For example, we read about God clothing Adam and Eve in their nakedness. Just as God clothes the naked, so should we give clothes to those who need them. We see the LORD sending three angels to visit Abraham immediately after his circumcision (Genesis 17–18). Just as God visits the sick, so should his children visit those who are ill. Just as Hashem watches over the orphan, the widow, and the sojourner, we are to do likewise (Deuteronomy 10:18–19). Just as Hashem ceased from His own labors and rested on the Sabbath, we are to do likewise (Exodus 20:10–11). This week’s parashah gives us another insight into how we can imitate God.

When it was time for Moses to take his final retirement, God was compassionate toward Moses. When Moses died, Hashem took the responsibility to bury him:

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. (Deuteronomy 34:5–6)

Posted September 21, 2018 - 6:59am

The Torah And The Resurrection

Parashat Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

In the days of our Master Yeshua, the Pharisees and the Sadducees debated the certainty of the resurrection. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, whereas the Sadducees rejected this concept. The reason for the debate was that the Torah does not explicitly mention any kind of resurrection. However, passages within the Torah seem to point to a resurrection. A few of these passages are found within the last two Torah portions. Last week we read:

And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. (Deuteronomy 31:16)

The allusion in this passage is not obvious in our English translations. However, it is more pronounced in the Hebrew. In English, we read, “You are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise …” There are two separate thoughts: one regarding the death of Moses and the other about what the Children of Israel will do after his death. In Hebrew, however, we can read the first part of this as a single thought: Shocheiv im avoteicha v’kam, “You will lie down with your fathers and arise.” This alternate reading is put forth by Ibn Ezra and others. It is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word for the phrase, “and arise” (וְקָם), is in the singular and can refer back to Moses. This reading doesn’t supersede the literal reading of the passage, but it is an additional insight we can derive from it.

Another passage that supports the concept of a resurrection is in this week’s reading. Toward the end of the Song of Moses, we read:

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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.” 

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