Adat Yeshua Weekly Commentaries
Vaetchanan: Seeking and finding?
HEAR O Israel, listen to who your God is! Listen to what He teaches you, and then do it! We are the people who hear God and obey (or at least should do) and it is this idea of obedience, doing what God says and wants and the consequences if we don’t, that frames this weeks’ portion. However, the depth of God’s love shines through in Deut 4:29-31: despite our…Read More
Parashat Devarim: Our G-d is alive!
The final book of Torah, the Chumash begins, and it seems it’s all about repeating the Torah again, or is it? Devarim represents the closest we have to a developed Jewish biblical theology. Moshe retells the Torah in a ‘systematic’ or even ‘progressive’ way, showing how links and connections are made, and major themes drawn out. How does Torah all fit together? Two major themes come out of this first…Read More
The ‘Real’ Promise Keepers
Most of this portion is given over to the narration of the Israelites in the process of the last stages of wilderness living; the Land is in sight and plans are being laid to take it. The time for maturity was now upon us, a time to consider what we’d learnt and how to apply it as we entered a new stage of our national development. One of the key…Read More
The point of Pinchas
Balaam may have failed to curse Israel, but he did not give up. If he couldn’t control God, he would at least get the Israelites to fall away from God. The rot from within is always more powerful than from without. He advised them to commit idolatry with the Midianite women (ref: Numbers 31:16 and Revelation 2:14. In the judgement that followed, some 24,000 people died; stopped only by the…Read More
Keeping up Appearances
One of my favourite TV comedy series was “Keeping up Appearances”, with Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!). The title says it all – appearances can and do fool people. Perhaps we think leaders are most guilty of this; we look at them and say “God is using them” but so often our eyes can deceive us. But we’re all prone to the disease of external righteousness, the need to appear bigger…Read More
Are we nearly there yet?
How many parents get tired of hearing that one?! The 40 years of wandering are soon to be over, the camp of Israel is close to the borders of the Promised Land, they are almost there and so what happens? Throw a party to celebrate this achievement? No,they grumble and complain, murmur against G-d and attack Moshe and Aharon! In Numbers (B’midbar) 20:4-5 we read the questions being asked:…Read More
Forty years of wandering in the wilderness had just begun after the community’s unbelief and lack of faith upon hearing the report of the ten faithless spies prevented them entering into the promised Land. This portion focuses on Korach and is named after him because he is so important to learn from: he is our role model of how NOT to behave in the Kingdom. The children of Israel are…Read More
Parashat Shelach (Send) – the sending out of the 12 spies to spy out the land and plan for its capture and settlement. The resultant report upon their return led the people of Israel into a 40 year diversion, one year for every day of faithlessness. However, God’s plans are never thwarted or diverted; in this case, Israel was settled but by a different generation. The passage begins with ‘sh’lach…Read More
Trusting God in the difficult times
In Numbers 11:1-15, we find Israel a year into their journey and already getting fed up with God’s provision for them. Humanly speaking the desert was an inhospitable place in comparison to Egypt with its fruitful and plentiful food supplies and water. But it was here that we had to learn to trust and not worry. We were being set free mentally, physically and spiritually and had to realise that…Read More
The Hallmarks of Blessing
The portion this week begins with the command ‘nas et-rosh bnai gershon’: ‘lift up the heads of the sons of Gershon’. This lifting up is of course translated as taking a census, a counting or reckoning of the numbers of men ready to be used in the transportation of the Mishkan and the holy articles. As in all the things of God, everything is exact and designed. Israel was called…Read More
The portion begins with ‘in the wilderness or desert’. One year after receiving the Torah at Sinai we begin to move on into the next 39 years of wandering through a barren land. We had come out of Egypt (a metaphor for the world’s system) and headed to decision day, our meeting with G-d at Sinai, where we chose to follow (or as the early responses to G-d revealed- rebel…Read More
Matters of the heart
Our portion opens with the teachings surrounding the Yovel year and Shmittah: how the Land needs to rest from our labours and we learn that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word spoken by God. It is trust and faith that bring life; the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. In the Haftarah, this message continues: Israel was about to be exiled and the…Read More
Parashat Emor states the broad design for God’s people: “Be ye holy as I am holy”. Indeed we learn a profound lesson – repeated for us twice here in Leviticus 21:8 and 22:32-33 – that it is God Himself who makes us holy. He is intimately involved in the process and status of our sanctity; as with so many areas of our faith, we discover that everything comes from Him,…Read More
Parashat Achrei Mot-Kedoshim
Reactive Land This double portion focuses completely on redressing the balance after the death of Nadav and Avihu and their sin of presumption, a presumption that God would accept anything they did and the inherent dangers of the people being taught the wrong thing due to their actions if not words. The long section on holiness naturally flows from this event, a corrective reminder of the path of righteousness, a…Read More
Leprosy, a bit of a sore issue?
This whole section seems so yucky and earthy to our modern sensitivities that we almost think it has to be consigned to the ‘olden days’. How do we even begin to connect with a section which talks about discharges and emissions, how these make you unclean? What about the uncleanness itself as a concept? Is this merely ritual, sin orientated or spiritual too? What can we learn from all this…Read More
Righteous Fire Let me ask you a searching question. Apart from the Lord, what is the defining feature you automatically think of when you think of Judaism? Is Torah the most important thing, theme and concept we are meant to hold and cherish? I think actually if we consider the space devoted to the Mishkan and the constant and ongoing offerings there, the structure and numbers of priests and their…Read More
Parashat Tzav: Great at being Ungrateful
The Temple was not a ‘nice’ place to be. It was a bloody and smelly place, not the place for the squeamish, blood was everywhere. There were burning corpses of animals already lifted up and offered as sacrifices to G-d, their blood draining away into the gullies and drains around the altar. Blood, and the sacrifices generally, were core to the daily work in the Mishkan and later Temple. Sacrifices…Read More
The bloody path of returning to G-d Jewish children of five years old begin their Torah study with this book, otherwise known as the Torat Cohanim, the Torah for the Priests. How ghastly to start with something as horrific and bloodthirsty as animal sacrifices! Surely we should begin with the Creation, or the building of the Mishkan, something visual and hands on. But no, it begins with sacrifices. And don’t…Read More
Why His way is not our way There are three themes that link together in this portion: The commandments about Shabbat, the freewill offerings given by the people and the building of the Mishkan. Why start this set of three with Shabbat? Interestingly Adam and Chava’s life after they were created began with Shabbat. Man’s thinking would be to start with the first working day of the week, but no,…Read More
It had all started so well, a dramatic departure from Egypt, the parting of the Reed Sea, the miracles of deliverance and redemption still vibrating in the communal memory, G-d had acted to set us free! Moshe had gone up to receive the teachings we were now to live by, and then… tragedy strikes. Just how did we get from the amazing spiritual highs of the Exodus and Sinai to…Read More