December 2006 Updates
12.29.06 (Tevet 8, 5767) One of the reasons I have invested so much time developing the various Hebrew blessings is that they provide bite-sized chunks of Hebrew that you can use to practice your reading. In fact, after mastering the Hebrew alphabet, most Jewish children begin their religious education by reciting the simpler Hebrew blessings.
Toward this end, I often look through various siddurim (Jewish prayerbooks) to find samples that will help you to practice and learn. Today I added a new blessing (Roka Ha'aretz) that thanks God for creating the earth as a habitation for mankind. If you are new to learning Hebrew (or if you are in need of a review), reciting Hebrew berachot is both edifying and a quick way to gaining confidence in your use of the "language of the kingdom." I hope you will find it helpful.
Your prayers and support are profoundly appreciated for this ministry, and I want to especially thank those of you who have written to me offering encouragement to continue this work. May it be avodah halev that is pleasing to our LORD Jesus, the Mashiach of Israel and Savior of the world.
12.28.06 (Tevet 7, 5767) I added another simple Hebrew blessing to the site (called Hamachazir Neshamot) that expresses trust that God will restore the soul to those who are dead. Actually, this blessing is sometimes recited in Jewish litugy as an expression of thanks to God for reviving the soul from sleep, but the language of blessing is stronger than this, and decidedly points to the sage's faith in the resurrection of the dead. And as Messianic believers, we understand that life from the dead comes from a personal encounter with the One who overcame the power of death itself, namely, Jesus the Lord.
12.27.06 (Tevet 6, 5767) When Jesus died, the enormous paraochet (veil) that separated Hakodesh (the holy place) from the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. I wrote a brief article (The Veil Torn in Two) that explores why this is significant for those who look to Yeshua as their Savior.
On a personal note: Today our basement flooded, and apart from the added expense of getting a plumber to come to our house (which we can't afford), and the risk of mold (of which I am allergic), I am concerned that tree roots might be obstructing the pipes. I will know more tomorrow, after the plumber takes a look at the damage. Your prayers are appreciated. Thank you.
Wishing you a Joyous Chanukah!
Josiah lights the Menorah
From our family to yours -- a prayer with the sincere hope that you had a joyous Chanukah and Christmas season, and that the coming (civil) new year will draw you closer and closer to our beloved LORD and Savior, Yeshua, the true Light of the world.
12.25.06 (Tevet 4, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion (Vayigash) for this coming Shabbat, and created a new PDF file of the summary. Since the wonderful correspondences between Joseph (the favored son of Israel) and Yeshua (the only begotten of the Father) are so clearly intimated in this Parashah, I again provided a table that details the similarities.
On a lighter side, I am trying to teach little Josiah (my two year old son) the Hebrew alphabet by singing it to the "Twinkle-Twinkle" melody (like the "ABC song" you might have used to learn the English alphabet). At any rate, and for what it's worth, I recorded myself singing it to a MIDI file, and you can have a listen here.
Josiah and daddy enjoying Chanukah lights
12.19.06 (Kislev 28, 5767) I wrote a new Hebrew mediation (Orach Chayim) that looks at a favorite verse from Scripture: "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).
12.17.06 (Kislev 26, 5767) We are enjoying this Chanukah (and Christmas) season, remembering the miracles of the True Shamash of God, Yeshua, and the unfathomable grace and love He gives to those who trust in Him. He is the true Light of the season, and reflecting something of His glory is the greatest treasure given to us. Thank God for the precious gift of light, hope, and lasting love we find in our beloved Lord Jesus!
Josiah loves Chanukah!
I also updated the weekly Torah portion (Miketz) for this coming Shabbat, and created a new PDF file of the summary. If you do nothing else regarding this reading, please study the marvelous ways in which Joseph (the favored son of Israel) clearly foreshadows the Lord Jesus (I created a table listing the wonderful correspondences between Joseph (Yosef ben Ya'akov) and Jesus (Yeshua ben Yosef) in the Brit Chadashah summary).
Just as Joseph was finally revealed to the Jewish people as a mashiach and savior (though they had initially betrayed him and rejected him), so will they likewise come to see that Jesus (Yeshua) is the promised Jewish Mashiach and the Savior of the world. Then will come true the hope of Rav Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) who wrote, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:30).
I also would like to publicly praise the LORD God of Israel for providing for my family's needs. God is so awesome and kind and loving -- and He is always faithful to those who put their trust in Him. May He be honored, extolled and glorified in all of us! Amen.
12.15.06 (Kislev 24, 5767) Please let me wish you a very happy and joy-filled Chanukah (and Christmas season)! Our family loves Chanukah... It's such a festive time, and I always sense the LORD's Presence in the room as we recite the blessings, light the candles, sing some songs, pray, and EAT latkes! I wish you a wonderful and joyous Chanukah, chaverim!
DOWNLOAD THE PDF FILE OF CHANUKAH BLESSINGS
Prayer Request: We could definitely use your prayers, chaverim. Recently we have had a series of car repairs that have really set us back financially (to the tune of $2000). Unfortunately, we still need to make two other repairs (one on the wheel bearings of our old Toyota, and another on a catalytic converter on our old Honda). We can't afford these now. We believe the LORD will provide for our needs, of course, though we would deeply appreciate any prayer you might utter for us. Todah!
12.13.06 (Kislev 22, 5767) I am considering adding a "blog" section to this site so that I can more freely write about what's on my heart (most of the material here has a "serious" tone and I aim to be very careful in my writing). What do you think? If I added a blog, would any of you be interested in reading it? Let me know, chaverim....
Josiah says "Shalom!!!"
12.11.06 (Kislev 20, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Vayeshev), and created a new PDF download of the summary. This Parashah recounts the (beginning of the) story of Joseph (a type of Mashiach ben Yosef) and also tells the strange tale of Judah and Tamar -- and how they are a part of the geneaology of both King David and the Mashiach Yeshua. Like all the Torah portions, this one is fascinating and calls for diligent study for anyone who loves the Scriptures.
Chanukah begins this coming Friday (December 15th) at sundown! For those of you who have read my Christmas article, you understand that I believe that Jesus was actually born during the festival of Sukkot and conceived during the Festival of Lights (Chanukah). For this reason, I can join in Christmas festivities, but I understand the celebration to center on the Miracle of the Incarnation, when God the Son chose to divest Himself of his regal glory and began his redemptive advent into this world.
Zola Levitt (Z'L) once speculated that the various mo'edim, the "feasts of the LORD," all were timed precisely in relation to the period of human gestation. In other words, the conception and birth of every human being, and in particular, the Son of God, mirrors the larger cycle of events of the Jewish calendar (for more information, contact Zola Levitt Ministries (www.levitt.com).
12.06.06 (Kislev 15, 5767) I updated the Glossary Pages by adding some additional entries, based on requests from some site visitors. If there is a particular Hebrew term you would like to see listed there, please email me and I will try to get it online. Todah.
12.04.06 (Kislev 13, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Vayishlach), and created a new PDF download of the summary. This Parashah recounts the terrible struggle of Ya'akov (Jacob) and how he was renamed "Israel" by God.
In a somewhat related vein, I happened to be writing a piece that included information about Herod the Great (74-1 BC, YM"SH), the notoriously wicked Idumean who was given the dubious title of "king of the Jews" by the Roman Senate. This Edomite was a cruel and vindictive politician who sought to retain control of the Jewish people as a "client king" for the Romans during the time of Jesus. As is well known from the story of the "Massacre of the Innocents" (Matt. 2), Herod was ruthless in his attempt to retain political power and to bequeath a "legacy" in his own name. When he heard from the Magi of the East that the sign of the "one born King of the Jews" was seen, he feigned interest in the salvation of Israel, but inwardly plotted to murder the child. When this faux king later realized that he had been duped by the Magi, he gave orders to kill all boys two years and younger in Bethlehem and its vicinity. Like so many politicians and "princes" of this world, his blood is on his hands.
Now what piqued my interest in this account is the little phrase, "King of the Jews." Many "Covenant" theologians (i.e., replacement theologians and those of the mainline Christian denominations) who deny that God has a future plan for national Israel might do well to meditate on this phrase. The Church has not "replaced" Israel or somehow arrogated to itself the covenant promises made to that nation, but is "grafted in" to the redemptive purposes of the LORD God of Israel (Romans 11). In other words, Covenant Theologians err by setting NT primacy in their reading of the Tanakh, and therefore import ideas alien to the Scripture's plain reading. Indeed, most Orthodox Jews expect the Mashiach to come and (quite literally) set up the kingdom of God on earth in Jerusalem. They believe this because of the many clear promises given in Tanakh regarding the future glory of national Israel. In other words, if you read the Tanakh using the grammatical-historical hermeneutic, the future of national Israel is a settled question. And a proper reading of the New Testament will support this understanding as well, since Yeshua spoke clearly about the coming Time of Jacob's Trouble and His glorious return to Jerusalem at the end of the age.
My point here is not to present a carefully argued case against Covenant Theology (or so-called "New Covenant Theology"), though I might do so in the future. I merely want to remember that the LORD God of Israel is faithful to His promises, and when He returns to earth one day, it will be to Jerusalem (not Rome, New York, London, or anywhere else). God has unfinished business with the nation of Israel, and just as He is faithful to those who trust in His Son for eternal life, so He is faithful to His original covenant people. Amen.
11.27.06 (Kislev 6, 5767) I am now offering a new audio learning product entitled, "Treasures of Hebrew Idioms," a book/CD that gives you insight into the 500 most important "crown jewels" of Hebrew idioms. Sources include the Bible, Talmud, Mishnah, Gemarah, Midrash, literature and poetry ( I also added another product called, "Hebrew terms of Love and Endearment," that includes a collection of many Hebrew words and expressions of love and endearment that are found in the Bible, Talmud, and in modern use).
Learn more >
11.26.06 (Kislev 5, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion (parashat Vayetzei) for this coming Shabbat, and I also created a PDF file of the summary for you to download. This is an outstanding section of Torah that I hope you will take some time to read, study and review!
May the LORD God of Israel help us all to love and trust Him more and more. May it please Him to reveal His grace and wisdom and glory to us, and may we be attuned to the Spirit in all matters close to His heart. Amen.
11.22.06 (Kislev 1, 5767) I have been busy fixing some things on this site that were recently broken, due to a computer problem on my side.... If you happen to see any broken links or missing graphics, please let me know. It's a tedious process going through literally thousands of pages trying to find the errors! Todah.
I wrote a new Hebrew meditation (Love's Faithful Afflictions) that considers how God's faithfulness and devotion to us is revealed in our various afflictions, troubles, and suffering in this life.
Please accept my wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family... We plan on being with my in-laws on Thursday afternoon and evening for the traditional meal. There are so many reasons to be thankful to the LORD. Have you taken a moment to recount some of your blessings?
11.21.06 (Cheshvan 30, 5767) I have experenced a system problem and the Blessings Pages are now missing graphics. Unfortunately, I will need to republish (and validate) EACH page of the over 200 pages to ensure that the graphics are loaded correctly. Please accept my apologies if you see any missing graphics.
11.20.06 (Cheshvan 29, 5767) I updated the Jewish Wedding Blessings pages, created a PDF download that includes the Sheva Berachot (seven wedding blessings), and also included a link to purchase some traditional (and beautiful) Jewish Wedding music:
Learn more >
I also listed a new CD called "The Soul of Jewish Violin," which includes 25 of the most famous Yiddish melodies, performed by the renowed violinist Boris Savchuk. If you love traditionally "Jewish" music, especially of the violin, you are sure to enjoy this CD.
Learn more >
11.19.06 (Cheshvan 28, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah reading (Toldot) for this coming Shabbat (and created a new PDF download for the Torah portion).
A personal note: I am feeling better (baruch hashem), and I want to thank all of you who wrote me and told me you were praying for my healing and wishing me refuah shelemah.
11.16.06 (Cheshvan 25, 5767) I am now offering newly released CD offerings entitled, "Music from God." These CDs come from a project developed by the Center for Biblical Hebrew that decodes the Hebrew text of the Bible, letter by letter, into musical notes. The results are astounding! You can actually hear the Bible play itself.
Learn more >
11.15.06 (Cheshvan 24, 5767) Based on a recommendation from a dear Israeli friend of mine, I am now offering a newly released DVD film entitled, "The Jewish Roots of Jesus" (for sale in the Hebrew4Christians online store for $19.95). This DVD explores the language, customs, traditions, and religion of Israel during the time of the Mashiach Yeshua and makes an good introduction to the Jewishiness of the Christian faith. The DVD also can work as a instructional video for your church or Messianic congregation.
Learn more >
11.12.06 (Cheshvan 21, 5767) On account of my illness, I have not been able to do much with the site over the last week. However, I updated the weekly Torah reading (Chayei Sarah) for this coming Shabbat.
Eagerly awaiting the Mashiach Yeshua, though learning to praise Him despite my afflictions. b'ahavah -- john
11.06.06 (Cheshvan 15, 5767) I have been quite ill again, first with a high fever that lasted for a few days, and then with further breathing problems... Unfortunately, now that I have chronic asthma and respiratory problems, even a common cold or virus can quickly become a serious problem. Please pray for my healing and for this ministry. I would like to keep developing this site as long as our precious LORD gives me strength.
I updated the weekly Torah portion (Vayera) and created a downloadable PDF for the Torah summary.
11.01.06 (Cheshvan 10, 5767) I am creating additional PDF files for the Hebrew Blessings section, including Berachot Chanukah - the traditional blessings recited during a Chanukah seudah.
I updated the Purim pages, enhanced some graphics, and created new PDF downloads for the material.
In addition, I updated (and improved) the blessings recited for Purim (sometimes collectively called berachot megilat ester) and created a PDF download for these pages.
10.31.06 (Cheshvan 9, 5767) I updated Psalm 23 in Hebrew, adding various grammatical notes and additional information about how this Psalm reveals the Shelosh Esrei Middot - the 13 attributes of God's mercy.
10.30.06 (Cheshvan 8, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion
(parashat Lekh-Lekha) for this coming Shabbat and created a PDF file of the pages which you can download.
Please continue to pray for this ministry, chaverim. We are surely in the "last days," and the spiritual warfare is stepping up. If you believe in the mission of this web outreach, please offer up a prayer to the Lord God of Israel to bless, protect, and magnify His Name through this avodah. And to all the friends of this ministry, please accept my heartfelt appreciation for your love, your care, and your grace.... Thank you!
10.27.06 (Cheshvan 5, 5767) I wrote a new Hebrew Meditation (Wisdom and Folly) that I hope you will find helpful.
10.25.06 (Cheshvan 3, 5767) I have been very sick lately - the flu, high fever, etc. I managed to get the next Torah reading (Noach) online:
10.19.06 (Tishri 26, 5767) Today I wrote some more pages in the Blessing Section, including the traditional blessings recited during Yom Kippur (or rather, during the seduah hamafseket (the festive meal observed just before fast begins)). I also updated the Yom Tov, Rosh Hashanah, and Rosh Chodesh blessing pages (and created PDF files for higher-quality printing).
With all of the madness of our postmodern world, I distinctly hear Ikvot Meshicha (the footsteps of the Messiah) fast approaching.... The world is undergoing ever-increasing paroxysms of evil, both in the moral/spiritual and in the physical realms. May the LORD give us increased wisdom and grace for this hour, for the sake of promoting His message of healing and love to a lost and hurting world.
10.18.06 (Tishri 25, 5767) The Torah Reading cycle begins anew for the Jewish year of 5767, and I updated the parashah and included a PDF download for the summary today.
I also updated a few more of the Hebrew blessings pages by adding PDF files.
10.17.06 (Tishri 25, 5767) I updated the Brit Chadashah blessings and blessings commonly recited when leaving synagogue. Soon, IY"H, I will have most of the Hebrew blessings pages revised with PDF file downloads.
10.15.06 (Tishri 23, 5767) I added new material regarding the Haftarah blessing and created the PDF file for download.
10.13.06 (Tishri 21, 5767) It is Hoshana Rabba, and I added some new pages to the site you might want to see. First, I enhanced the Torah Reading Blessings pages and added a nice-printing PDF version for you. I also rewrote the pages concerning donning the Tefillin, or "phylacteries," which I hope you find helpful. I wish you and your family a peaceful Shabbat, despite the turmoil and insanity of this world.
10.11.06 (Tishri 19, 5767) I updated the blessing page regarding donning the Jewish prayer shawl (tallit), and also created a new PDF file of the Tallit Blessings for your study and practice. Chag Sameach chaverim...
10.11.06 (Tishri 19, 5767) Chag Sameach again! I continue to add new PDF files for you to download... Today I created new PDF files for each section of the Celebrating Shabbat material.
10.10.06 (Tishri 18, 5767) HAPPY SUKKOT - Chag Sameach! I have been updating a number of site pages and creating more PDF file downloads for the site (for an example, see this page). This is a rather slow process, unfortunately, but I am averaging about 10 new PDF files a day... I hope this enhanced format will be helpful to some of you.
10.06.06 (Tishri 14, 5767) HAPPY SUKKOT - Chag Sameach! And Shabbat Shalom, too! Yes, the sun is about to set over here in Minneapolis, and I am gettting ready for this important festival of our Lord. I have added some new material to the site as well, including Shalom Aleichem and an enhanced Friday Night Kiddush page.
10.04.06 (Tishri 12, 5767) I am continuing to add additional PDF download files for your personal study. Today I added several, including PDF files for the Fall Mo'edim (fall holidays): Elul, Rosh Hashanah, Tzom Gedaliah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, and Chanukah!
10.03.06 (Tishri 11, 5767) I created a number of PDF files for download, which I hope you will find helpful... Unfortunately, I have hundreds more of these to create, and each one requires a good deal of time to develop from the HTML pages I originally created to share the material....
For example, look at the PDF file I created on the weekly Torah readings:
This document took hours to create from the HTML source code I use. Other pages are similar in terms of conversion efforts. Presently, I have many of the Hebrew Blessings completed, as well as the Kaddish, the Shema (part 1), the Lord's Prayer, and some other pages... Please, many of you have asked for better print capability here, so I covet your prayers for my strength to do this. Thanks.
I also added the Messianic blessing for Shabbat Candle Lighting to the site today (I also have the traditional (i.e., Rabbinical) blessing listed here):
10.02.06 (Tishri 10, 5767) The seventh (and final) feast given to Israel is called Sukkot, or the "Feast of Tabernacles." Sukkot is observed in the fall, from the 15th to the 22nd of Tishri (this year, October 6-14, 2006). During this time many Jewish families construct a sukkah, a small hastily built hut in which meals are eaten throughout the festival.
You can learn more about Sukkot by clicking the image below:
09.29.06 (Tishri 7, 5767) Tzom Kal to all of you who will be fasting for Yom Kippur Sunday and Monday. Chazak v'ematz, and may the Lord give you strength and courage as you live in the light of His Presence for the coming new year...
I added PDF versions of the Lord's Prayer for you to download and print (see below for more information).
09.29.06 (Tishri 7, 5767) I have been busy adding improved "printer-friendly" pages to the Blessings Section of the site (I will do the same to other pages of the site as I get time). These pages will provide higher quality printing for you, since they now use the Adobe PDF file format.
Converting the older HTML pages to PDF is not a trivial undertaking, however. Here's what I am up against. I need to take the original HTML document for each page and redesign it using Microsoft Word. Next I create the PDF file with high resolution so that when the graphics are printed they will not be overly "fuzzy." Finally, I upload the PDF file to the webserver, go back to its original HTML page and create a link to the new PDF file.
Each page takes me roughly 30 minutes or so to redevelop this way, so with over 1,000 web pages to re-create, you can get some idea of the amount of effort that is required to do this.... Still, I think it's worth the effort, since the printed pages look far better (for a sample, click here).
09.28.06 (Tishri 6, 5767) Shalom my friends. I don't want to alarm you, but I have been very sick for the last few months. My symptoms include waking up nearly every night coughing. Then there is a searing and burning pain. It's really bad. After this, the asthma is dreadful, and I have to stay up for an hour to get my breathing back to normal. This is wearing me out, since I have not slept well in months.
At a friend's prompting, I have decided to see a pulmonologist (I had already seen a GP and an allergist before regarding these symptoms, but they didn't really help). I will update you with the results as I learn them.
If you could offer up a prayer for my healing, I would be grateful... I am trusting that the ultimate outcome is surely in G-d's hands, but He asked us to pray for one another, and so I solicit your gracious intercession regarding this matter. Thank you. - John
09.27.06 (Tishri 5, 5767) Shanah Tova to you all... May the L-rd grant you heartfelt teshuvah and a renewed love for Him in the coming new year!
I am continuing to add additional Scriptural blessings pages to the site (see below). In addition, I am beginning to re-create the "printer-friendly" pages as PDF files, in order to ensure that page breaks and other printing anomalies won't occur when you print content from this site. Unfortunately, this is a tedious job for me, since there are over 1,000 pages that will require reworking, so I will be doing this as time permits. I will begin with the common Hebrew berachot (blessings). To see a sample, click here.
We are nearing the end of the Torah reading cycle, with only one more weekly reading to go before we return to Bereshit (Genesis). I wrote an abbreviated dvar Torah for parashat Ha'azinu ("Give ear!") and put it online here.
09.26.06 (Tishri 4, 5767) I added some additional Hebrew blessings from Scripture located in the Blessings section of the web site (click here for a list). I hope to include all the verses of Scripture that include the word barukh (and its inflections) as a means of practicing your basic Hebrew reading while learning some wonderful passages from the Word of God!
It is the High Holidays, and we are looking to the L-rd for our own personal teshuvah (repentance) as well as for the national deliverance of Israel. In Rabbinical Judaism, Yom Kippur marks the climax of the ten day period of repentance called the "Days of Awe" (yamim nora'im in Hebrew) - which began on Rosh Hashanah. In the Hebrew calendar Yom Kippur begins at nightfall on Tishri 9 (this year, Sunday, October 1st) and continues 25 hours through the next day until nightfall (Monday, October 2nd). It is a day marked by complete fasting, prayer, and additional synagogue services.
For more information about Yom Kippur, click the image below:
09.25.06 (Tishri 3, 5767) Tzom Gedaliah (the Fast of Gedaliah) occurs on Tishri 3 (according to the Talmud, the date when Gedaliah was murdered [tractate Rosh Hashanah 18b]), the day following the second day of Rosh Hashanah. During the fast, no food or water may be ingested from sunrise to sunset. Among Orthodox Jews, Tzom Gedaliah is considered a prelude to Yom Kippur.
09.22.06 (Elul 29, 5766 - Erev Rosh Hashanah) Shalom Chaverim, and it is my sincere prayer that you are blessed in this coming new season of life.... May the L-rd bless you and keep you and shine His glory upon you for this coming new year! And may you be ready to hear the sound of the great shofar that will call you into His glorious presence soon!
I am (slowly) adding some additional Hebrew blessings to this site that come directly from the Scriptures. Primarily, these are verses from the Psalms that use the Hebrew word barukh (or an inflection thereof). See and example here and here. Let me know what you think, too!
09.20.06 (Elul 27, 5766) I wrote a new Hebrew Meditation (the Burden of Grace) that looks at the verse, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily carries our burden, the God of our salvation" (Psalm 68:19), and considers how the phrase yom yom ya'amos lanu (who daily carries our burden) may be interpreted in two equally valid - and complementary - ways. I hope this meditation will encourage you. Shana Tova chaverim...
09.18.06 (Elul 25, 5766) Friday September 22, 2006 (at sundown) is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Also called Yom Teru'ah (the Feast of Trumpets), this sacred time has prophetic significance for the Messianic believer, since it commemorates both the creation of the universe by Adonai, as well as the "calling up" of the new creation at the behest of Yeshua, when the sound of the heavenly shofar inaugurates the anticipated End of Days (1 Cor 15:51-54; 1 Thess 4:15-18).
Since Rosh HaShanah falls on a Shabbat this year, the Torah Reading Cycle is suspended and holiday readings are substituted. For Jews living outside Israel, Rosh Hashanah is observed for an additional day (called yom tov sheni).
Shanah tova chaverim!
09.14.06 (Elul 21, 5766) I have made some minor changes to the site over the last few days, correcting a few things and enhancing a few others. Among other things, I created a simple test page of unicode Hebrew that you can view here. It would save me an enormous amount of time to use Unicode rather than graphics for Hebrew text on this site, but before I make the switch, I want to be sure that you can read the Hebrew in Unicode. Please check the test page and let me know your thoughts....
In addition, several friends from Israel emailed me and told me that the first line of the Lord's Prayer should read "Avinu Shebashamayim, yitkadesh shimkha" (rather than "Avinu Shebashamayim, yitkadash sh'mekha," as I had it from the Salkinson-Ginsburg edition of the Hebrew New Testament).
Well, to make that small change involved a lot of other changes, such as re-recording the prayer, changing the nikkud of the first verse, changing the transliterations of the first verse, re-creating the Flash program that plays the entire prayer back, and updating the "practice pages" for the Lord's Prayer... Oy. At any rate, I made the changes and the emended prayer is now online, B"H.
Finally, I have been moon watching during this month of Elul, in anticipation of the coming new year that begins at sundown on September 22. I am excited for the coming New Year (5767), and wish you all a heartfelt "shanah tova."
09.11.06 (Elul 18, 5766) Since this is a non-leap year on the Jewish Calendar, this coming Shabbat we have another "double portion" that includes both parashah Nitzavim ("You are standing") and parashah Vayeilech ("and he went"). For your convenience, I have listed my Torah summaries for both of these parashiyot on the main Parashah HaShavuah page.
In addition, I added some additional entries to the Glossary pages and also enhanced some of the presentation of the Lord's Prayer pages.
Next week Friday, September 22, 2006 (Elul 29, 5766, at sundown) is Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. Also called Yom Teru'ah (the Feast of Trumpets), this sacred time has prophetic significance for the Messianic believer, since it commemorates both the creation of the universe by Adonai, as well as the "calling up" of the new creation at the behest of Yeshua -- when the sound of the heavenly shofar inaugurates the anticipated "End of Days" (1 Cor 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
Since the first advent of Yeshua fulfilled all of the spring mo'edim to the smallest of details, we believe that His second advent portends similar fulfillment as revealed in the fall mo'edim. After the summer of harvest (John 4:35), the very first fall festival on the Jewish calendar is Yom Teru'ah, which is a picture of the "catching away" of kallat Mashiach (the Bride of Christ) for the time of Sheva Berachot (seven "days" of blessing) that the tzaddikim (righteous ones) will experience before the Great Tribulation and ultimately, Yom Adonai - the Day of the L-rd.
L-rd, help us to be ready! Maran Attah, Yeshua!
09.04.06 (Elul 11, 5766) I updated the weekly Torah portion (Ki Tavo) for this coming Shabbat and added some additional audio (on Proverbs 3:9-10).
08.28.06 (Elul 4, 5766) I updated the weekly Torah portion (Ki Teiztzei) and provided my usual dvar Torah regarding its content. Of particular interest to us, especially during the month of Elul, is to remember how Yeshua (Jesus) paid the ultimate price for our redemption by hanging as a curse in our place before the judgment seat of the Law of Adonai. This was foretold, of course, by Moses himself in the Torah.
The Law of Moses allowed that someone who was to be executed could be hung (or impaled) and exposed, presumably as a warning others. According to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 6:4), a pole with a horizontal beam was erected and the dead man's hands were bound and slung over the beam, leaving the body suspended. The LXX (Septuagint) inverts the word order and translates this as "hang him on wood so that he dies," which later was used to justify the Roman practice of crucifixion (see Y. Yadim, Megillat Hamikdash). The exposed body must not last beyond the day of execution, but must be buried before sundown.
Besides the shame and degradation of this manner of death, the one so executed would be unable to fall to their knees as a final act of repentance before God, thereby implying that they were under the irrevocable curse of God.
In this connection, we should note that Yeshua was initially charged with blasphemy by the Jewish leaders of His day (Matt. 26:65; Mark 14:64; John 10:33) - an offence that was punishable by stoning (Lev. 24:11-16). However, the provision made in the Law for an offender to be "hung on a tree" was used to justify the sentence of death by Roman crucifixion (Matt. 27:31; Mark 15:13-4; Luke 23:21; John 19:6, 15).
The followers of Yeshua understood the connection between this provision in the Torah and the salvation of the LORD. Paul wrote, "Mashiach redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree" (Gal. 3:13). The Apostle Peter also had this in mind when he wrote: "The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree" (Acts 5:30; cp. Acts 10:39-40); and, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24).
08.23.06 (Av 29, 5766) I added a new Hebrew blessing from a Messianic perspective (called Shehakol Niheyah) that thanks the L-rd for the glory of life given to us through Yeshua, Devar Elohim, the Word of G-d. I would love to add additional Hebrew blessings (from a distinctively Messianic perspective), though time and energy constrain me these days. Let me know if you would like me to add a Messianic Siddur online here.
08.22.06 (Av 28, 5766) I updated dvar Torah (parashat Shoftim) for this coming Shabbat. I have also been very busy on the Hebrew for Christians web forums, adding Psukim Yomi (daily verses) in Hebrew - with transliterations. G-d willing, I will add some of this material to this site and perhaps write a daily devotional from a Messianic perspective. I also would like to complete another book on basic Hebrew grammar, though I cannot afford to self-publish. Please pray that if it pleases the L-rd, He would provide me a way to write these additional books.
08.14.06 (Av 20, 5766) I wrote a new Hebrew meditation (based on Proverbs 18:10, entitled Migdal-Oz ("strong tower")) where I attempt to consider how the sacred Name of the LORD (YHVH) is a revelation of strength for those who have faith in Him.
08.13.06 (Av 19, 5766) I updated dvar Torah for parashat Re'eh for this coming Shabbat.
08.09.06 (Av 15, 5766 - Tu B'Av) Since Biblical times the 15th of Av has been celebrated as a holiday of love and affection, and in modern Israel it is celebrated as a sort of "Valentine's Day" (though it is a much older and sober holiday that St. Valentine's Day). Click here to learn more about this special holiday of love and romance!
08.07.06 (Av 13, 5766) I wrote a new meditation (Derekh HaYashar) regarding finding the "straight way" or "right path" during our sojourn here on earth. It is my hope that this meditation will challenge all of us to be more honest with ourselves as we consider the choices we face in our lives.
08.06.06 (Av 12, 5766) I updated my dvar Torah for parashat Eikev for this coming Shabbat.
08.03.06 (Av 9, 5766) Praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the restoration of the Jewish people, chaverim.
08.02.06 I wrote a short meditation from Psalm 28:6 entitled Cry for Grace:
Since we are about to begin the solemn time of Tishah B'Av -- the saddest day on the Jewish calendar -- it is good to remind ourselves that, despite the suffering of the galut and the repeated tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the millenia, the L-rd G-d of Israel is indeed gracious and compassionate to all who call upon His Name. Maran Atah, Yeshua... Tzom Kal to all who are remembering Israel...
08.01.06 I added a new meditation based on the Hebrew keyword shamar from
Psalm 121:7 (the L-rd our Protector), and added another one based on Psalm 27:1 entitled the L-rd my Light and Salvation. I originally wrote both of these short meditations awhile back for Zola Levitt's ministry, but I have updated them with audio and additional graphics. I hope they will encourage you in your walk with Yeshua our Mashiach.
07.31.06 I am updating some things on the site, for example, the "Thirteen Principles" of the Jewish faith pages... (for example, see here and here). Presently I am adding some additional images to these pages (with the hope that they will be more interesting), but eventually I would like to add the additional insight that comes from having faith in our Mashiach Yeshua - and how He provides the truth regarding the reality of G-d.
07.31.06 I wrote dvar Torah for parashat Va'etchanan for this coming Shabbat (also known as Shabbat Nachamu ("Sabbath of Comfort"), since it immediately follows the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, Tishah B'Av, which begins at sundown on Wednesday August 2nd this year (5766).
Tish'ah B'Av (the Ninth of Av) is a tzom (fast) day of mourning to remember the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the centuries, some of which coincidentally have occurred on the Ninth day of the month of Av.
07.26.06 I wrote a new Hebrew Meditation (Be Still) that considers the climactic verse of Psalm 46, namely: "Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (v 10). It might surprise you to learn that the word translated "be still" actually derives from a root word that means "to let go" or to "become weak," and even intimates a connection with death. Rightly understood, the verse does not support "contemplative prayer" techniques or other forms of mystical meditation, but instead stresses the cognitive awareness that the L-rd G-d of Israel is the Sovereign Power of the universe. The response to the glory of G-d is always profound humility and the mortification of the carnal nature.
We can only "be still" through an act of personal surrender to the will of a sovereign and loving God, who then will vanquish our enemies and keep us in perfect peace as we keep our thoughts and intentions centered on Him (Isaiah 26:3).
07.24.06 I have been very busy moving recently, though I managed to write dvar Torah for parashat Devarim (Words) for this coming Shabbat.
Note that the Shabbat that precedes the Fast of Av (Tishah B'Av) during the Three Weeks of Sorrow is called "Shabbat Chazon," the "Sabbath of vision," since the Haftarah that is read comes from the first chapter of Isaiah regarding the coming destruction of the Temple. With Israel at war against Hizbollah and other terrorists, more than ever it is imperative that we "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6).
07.17.06 I wrote dvar torah for parashat Mattot (Tribes) and parashat Masei (journeys) for this coming Shabbat (yes, this is a double portion).
It is significant that the war in Israel against the Hizbollah coincides both with the
Three Weeks of Sorrow and with a parashah that speaks clearly about the destruction of the ancient Midianites (who attempted to destroy the Israelites). Damascus, said to be the world's oldest continuously inhabited city, is prophesied to one day be utterly destroyed (Isaiah 17:1). Is it coincidental that Israeli intelligence has traced the work of the Hizbollah (and the Hamas) back to this Syrian capital? We are expecting increasing tension in the region, with Syria being clearly identified as the instigator of the attacks against the Jewish people. We are also looking for Iran (Persia) to become further embroiled in this conflict, as the stage becomes set for the time of Great Tribulation that the L-rd Jesus forewarned.
Jerusalem has indeed become a "Cup of Trembling" to all the world (Zech 12:2-3). The Muslims (including the president of Iran/Persia, Ahmadinejad) are anxiously expecting "al Mahdi" to appear who will lead the final crusade against the Jewish people; the Orthodox Jews are awaiting their Moshiach and expect him to appear during the coming war with Iran; and many Christians/Messianic Jews expect to see a false "covenant of peace" to be negotiated by a major political leader - called the "antichrist" or "man of sin" - who will ultimately betray Israel and set the stage for the final showdown between the G-d and the devil.
Meanwhile, is the United States in prophecy regarding any of these matters? There are obviously no direct references found in the Scriptures, so we must make various inferences and engage in some speculation.... That said -- and realizing that it's improper to be dogmatic about any one conclusion -- I think that a case can be made that either the USA will be so marginalized (perhaps through further terrorist acts or a financial meltdown) that it will be unable to defend Israel from her enemies (thus leaving her in peril during the "Time of Jacob's Trouble"), or the USA will actually be a key player in the brokering of peace in the region, and therefore could be understood to be "Mystery Babylon," the embodiment of the "revived Roman Empire" (of Esau's progeny). Certainly the Freemason connections of various world leaders and the growing momentum to establish a "new world order" suggests that the USA - the sovereign power over the literal location of ancient Babylon (i.e., Iraq), might indeed be part of the ultimate conspiracy against the nation of Israel... And certainly the USA fits the various descriptions of Mystery Babylon better than any nation that has since appeared upon the earth...
Chaverim, it is important to remember little Israel in your prayers - for protection from her rabid and innumerable enemies -- and ultimately for her salvation and restoration through the Mashiach Yeshua.
As Christians, we serve the L-rd of Glory - the One whose Kingdom is not of this world. We are indeed "citizens" of heaven, and therefore our allegiance is first and foremost to the L-rd G-d of Israel our Savior. The beloved Jewish people are currently estranged from the conscious awareness of grace of the L-rd Yeshua, but one day they will indeed cry out, Baruch Haba b'Shem Adonai, and then all Israel shall be saved (Romans 11:26). Meanwhile, as Christians, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people and we commit ourselves to pray for them and to stand with them, as the apple of G-d's eye... And remember, when Yeshua comes back to earth, He's not going to Rome, or London, or Washington DC - but to Jerusalem, the place of the Altar (the Cross). Yeshua is the King of the Jews - and He will always be such.
07.05.06 I wrote the weekly Torah commentaries for parashiyot Chukat and Balak for this coming Shabbat. (Note: since I have been busy moving during the last week, I have been unable to add additional articles to the site recently.)
If you benefit from this ministry, please consider making a donation to help me keep it online and growing. Last month I had over 70,000 unique site visitors, but only two donations... Your help is appreciated.
06.27.06 I wrote d'var Torah for parashat Korach, which deals primarily with the rebellion of Israel as instigated by Moses' own cousin (Korah).
06.21.06 I wrote a new meditation on Habakkuk 2:4 ("The just shall live by his faith") and added it to the Mediations section of the site. The discerning reader will detect the tension between the duty of the believer to exemplify faithfulness and yet to rely on the faithfulness of the True Tzaddik - Yeshua the Mashiach - in order to be declared one of the tzaddikim of God. I hope you will find the meditation provocative and challenging in your own apprehension of the glory of God.
06.20.06 We are moving at the end of this month (oy), and therefore I will have less time to add new material to the site, since I will be schlepping boxes and furniture, etc., for quite awhile... I will keep the weekly Torah reading schedule up to date, IY"H, and will try to keep you posted on the status of the move over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the Torah portion for this coming Shabbat is called Shelach Lekha ("Send for yourself") and sets up the national tragedy referred to as the "sin of the spies." I added some enhanced audio for this coming week's summary, and I hope you will take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this study.
06.12.06 I wrote dvar Torah for Parashat Beha'alotkha and added some additional audio files to the site. I have been especially busy over on the forum, posting a lot of articles and materials as well.
06.05.06 I updated the Torah Reading summaries for this coming Shabbat
(parashat Naso) and added some new audio files.
I also hope to resume work on the Hebrew grammar section, as well as to add some additional articles soon. Please offer up a prayer for this ministry. Thank you.
Happy Shavu'ot! Chag Sameach!
06.02.06 Celebrating Shav'uot tonight! I wish you all joy and peace.
06.01.06 I spent some time revising the Shema section of the site in order to provide the complete Hebrew recitation as heard at synagogue. Now, in addition to the Shema proper, I have added part 2 (Vehayah) and part 3 (Vaiyomer), as well as a printable page of the complete Shema so you can further work on your Hebrew reading. Now you can work through the complete Shema at your own pace!
Note: In the future I hope (IY"H) to include simplified readings of the entire Shema, though this will take me some time to develop (for an example of the simplified reading idea, see this page).
Finally, this evening marks Erev Shavu'ot, a time in which Messianic Jews remember the fulfillment of brit chadashah when the Ruach Hakodesh was given to the kehillat Mashiach. It is my hope and prayer that you will likewise experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life during this special time.
05.30.06 Thursday June 1st (at sundown) is the start of the 6th of Sivan, the time traditionally recognized as the climax of the Passover season known as Shavu'ot ("weeks" or "Pentecost"). For traditional Judaism, Shavu'ot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (mattan Torah). In addition, Jewish confirmation ceremonies are often held at the synagogue for young adults to recommit themselves to Talmud Torah (the study of Torah) and to renew their decision to live as Jews.
Common Shavu'ot customs include decorating the home and synagogue with greenery, eating dairy foods and sweets (as samples of "milk and honey"), and staying up the entire night of Erev Shavu'ot (the night of Sivan 6th) to study the Torah (this custom is called tikkun leil shavu'ot). For the Messianic Jew, Shavu'ot is the time of celebrating the birth of kallat Mashiach - the Bride of the Messiah (or Church), since the Ruach HaKodesh was poured out to the believers in Jerusalem during this festival.
In the diaspora, Shavu'ot is celebrated on both Sivan 6th and 7th (though in Israel it is celebrated just on the 6th). Since the 7th of Sivan falls on a Shabbat this year, the Torah reading for Shavu'ot is a bit different than years on which it falls on a regular day of the week (the Parashah Hashavuah page has been updated to list the readings for this year's Shavu'ot services).
05.25.06 It is one thing to be deceived by another person, and quite another to "fool yourself" by engaging in self-deception. Of all forms of deception, I think it can be argued that self-deception is perhaps the worst, since the self becomes divided and unable to provide a unified defense against the power of the lie. As Soren Kierkegaard said, "Purity of the heart is to will one thing," but self-deception divides the power of the will and incapacitates the ability to see this "one thing" necessary in your life.
To help remind ourselves of the perils of being self-deceived, I wrote a brief Hebrew Meditation on Proverbs 21:2 that I hope you will find helpful. You can read it here.
05.22.06 I updated the weekly parashah page for this coming Shabbat (Bemidbar), and included additional audio to the reading. I have also been posting a lot of additional information on the online chavurah.
05.17.06 I am beginning to feel a bit better (B"H), though now my wife is sick with the stomach flu (as well as my little boy Josiah ben Yisroel). Please remember them in your prayers, since this is especially difficult for young Josiah.
Josiah ben Yisroel at age 18 months
05.16.06 Since this is a non-leap year on the Jewish Calendar, this coming Shabbat we have another "double portion" that includes both parashah Behar and parashah Bechukotai. For your convenience, I have listed my Torah summaries for both of these parashiyot on the main Parashat HaShavuah page.
05.11.06 I have had the stomach flu lately as well as some other trials. I have made some minor corrections to typos found in the grammar sections.
05.06.06 I wrote the weekly parashah drash for this coming Shabbat (Emor) and added the Hebrew audio for the opening of the reading.
05.03.06 We are in process of "counting the omer" that was to be brought to the Jewish Temple every day from the second day of Passover up until the great festival of Shavu'ot ("Weeks" or Pentecost). For more information about this, click here.
05.01.06 This coming Shabbat we have another "double portion" that includes both parashah Acharei Mot and parashah Kedoshim. For your convenience, I have listed my Torah summaries for both of these parashiyot on the main Parashat HaShavuah page.
I have been very busy on the Hebrew for Christians forum, posting various articles that pertain to the soon coming of the Mashiach Yeshua and the judgment upon the nations. The forthcoming war in Iran (Persia) is highly prophetic, and is a clear indicator that we are indeed in acharit hayamim ("the end of days"). We are close, and there is precious little time left to prepare for the outbreak of Chevlei Mashiach that comes to test all the nations of the earth. I pray that you are ready - and that you have a personal and saving relationship with G-d through His Son, Yeshua the Mashiach.
Yakar b'einey Adonai hamavta lachasidav
04.28.06 I wrote a new Hebrew meditation (Yakar) on a pasuk from Tehillim 116:15, "Precious in the eyes of the L-rd is the death of His saints." I hope it will encourage you in the face of loss and suffering in your own life...
04.24.06 Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, takes place on the 27th of Nisan, which this year begins Monday April 24th (at sundown) and runs until sundown on Tuesday, April 25th.
Shoah is the Hebrew word for "destruction" and is another name used to refer to the European Holocaust, when six million Jews - including one and a half million children - were systematically murdered by the Nazis (YH"SH, Y'Sh) during World War II.
We must never forget what happened to the Jewish people, just as we must always be vigilant for political power that seeks to impose fascist control or that seeks to "scapegoat" other peoples for political purposes...
For more information about the Nazi Holocaust, please take a moment and read these pages:
Zola Levitt gets Promoted
04.22.06 As many of you already know, Dr. Zola Levitt, one of the pioneers of the Messianic Jewish movement and a true champion of the faith, died on April 19th, after a fight with cancer... Zola was a remarkably gifted teacher, author, musician, and lover of Israel - a real "gooteh neshumah" and gracious man of G-d. Though we rejoice that Zola is now in the presence of the L-rd G-d of Israel whom he faithfully served until his death, we are saddened over the loss of a great teacher and dear friend.
Please offer a prayer for Zola's family and for Zola Levitt Ministries. ( Kaddish ) If you wish to express your condolences to the Levitt family, please visit the Zola Levitt Ministries web site (www.levitt.com) for additional details.
We'll see you on the other side, chaver!
04.22.06 This coming Shabbat we have a "double portion" that includes both parashah Tazria and parashah Metzorah. For your convenience, I have listed my Torah summaries for both of these parashiyot on the main Parashat HaShavuah page.
04.10.06 Pesach Sameach! Happy Passover! For a Passover Meditation, please see Seh Elohim - the Lamb of God.
Cleanse out the old leaven
that you may be a new lump,
as you really are unleavened.
For Mashiach, our Passover lamb,
has been sacrificed.
Let us therefore celebrate the festival,
not with the old leaven,
the leaven of malice and evil,
but with the unleavened bread
of sincerity and truth.
1 Cor 5:7-8
I added this years Passover Torah Reading Schedule to the site.
More Humor Pages
04.06.06 I added a few more pages of Jewish Humor to the site, and also made some additional (cosmetic) changes to other areas as well. Hatzlahah!
The Meaning of Torah
04.04.06 I wrote an exploratory article that raises some questions regarding whether the Torah of Moses is immutable (as is held by traditional Orthodox Judaism) or whether it is subject to overmastering purposes and plans of the L-rd. In other words, is the word "Torah" to be linked to the covenant made with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, or is it perhaps grounded in a deeper covenantal purpose of G-d that is intended to embrace all of humanity? For more, click here: ("Can Torah be Changed?")
Preparing for Passover
04.01.06 Starting this week, most Orthodox Jews are preparing their homes for Pesach (Passover). All chametz must be removed from the house (or at least carefully segregated from all living spaces). Additional preparations and planning for the Passover Seder (to be held on the evening of April 12th) are also being made.
I wrote a brief Torah summary on Parashat Tzav for this coming Shabbat. This Shabbat, which precedes Passover, is called Shabbat HaGadol ("Great Sabbath") to commemorate the time when the Exodus generation set aside the Pascal lamb for the original Passover. An additional (musaf) haftarah reading comes from Malachi 3:4-24.
Biblical New Years Day
03.29.06 HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!
Nisan 1 (Thursday, March 30, 2006 at sundown) is the Biblical New Years Day, the start of the month of the Exodus from Egypt and the beginning of Jewish national history. It is also the first month used for counting the festivals (mo'edim) of the Hebrew Calendar and for reckoning the years of reign of the Kings of Israel.
Starting next week, most Orthodox Jews will begin (in earnest) the arduous process of preparing their homes for Pesach. All chametz must go! This is also a time to begin taking extra steps to prepare for the Passover Seder (Wednesday, April 12th this year).
I also wrote my Torah Commentary for this coming Shabbat (Vayikra), which I hope will get you to thinking about the connection between the blood of the Lamb of God and the festival of Passover....
03.27.06 I wrote a brief meditation on Psalm 33:16(17h) entitled "The Light of His Countenance" that considers how the chesed of the L-rd, as revealed through the sacrifice of His Son Yeshua the Mashiach, is the only solution we have for the problem of our fear of death. God's love is stronger than the pretense of death, and our hope in the love of God overcomes the despair of infinite anxiety and guilt.
03.24.06 I wrote an exploratory article that raises some questions regarding whether the Torah of Moses is "immutable" and forever unchanging (as is held by traditional Judaism) or whether it is subject to the overmastering purposes and plans of the LORD. In other words, is Torah some sort of "blueprint" that the LORD used to create the universe (i.e., a divine plan that He Himself is subject to and therefore cannot change), or is it subject to His will, to be used as He sees fit? This question may be rephrased as "Does God will the good because it is good, or is something good because God wills it?"
03.20.06 I wrote an abbreviated dvar Torah on Parashat Vaiyakhel and put it online for this coming Shabbat. (I really wish I had more time and energy to devote to this parashah, since it is extremely rich and full of wonder...)
Passover Note: This shabbat also is called Shabbat HaChodesh (the Sabbath of the Moon), since it is in preparation of the new moon of Nisan (the first month of the Jewish year and the start of the Jewish biblical calendar). An additional reading (Exodus 12:1-20) is added as a maftir in most synagogues).
My health is not so good lately (again). I have an inner ear ache/infection that is really troublesome, especially since I am a musician (I went to Urgent Care today but had to leave because the wait was too long). Any prayer said to the L-rd G-d of Israel for my healing and strength is appreciated...
03.15.06 The Jewish Tanakh provides several lines of prophetic evidence that demonstrate that Yeshua haNotzri is indeed the promised Mashiach of Israel. To help you better see some of these prophecies, I wrote a short article called Hamyuchal Hamashiach (the Promised Messiah) that provides a list of various prophecies in the Torah that are fulfilled in Yeshua (I also created a PDF version of this information so you can easily print and share it with a Jewish person you love!)
In addition to the regular Torah reading for this week (parashat Ki Tisa), this coming Shabbat is also one of the four Shabbatot ("special sabbaths") of the year when an additional Torah portion (musaf) is read - even though it is not a holiday. This Sabbath is called Shabbat Parah ("Sabbath of the Cow"), and the musaf portion recalls the Red Heifer sacrifice - a clear picture of the purification that our L-rd Yeshua gives to those who put their trust in Him.
03.14.06 Purim Sameach, chaverim!
H A P P Y P U R I M ! ! !
Chag Sameach! I added some additional information about the connection between Purim and Yom Kippur in the Purim article and Purim Blessings page.
I also added a number of new download materials for those of you who are self-studying Biblical Hebrew, including:
- A new Alphabet Summary Quiz Sheet
- Some Practice Grid Pages for you to work on your Hebrew penmanship
- A nice one-page summary of the Hebrew Consonants
- A nice one-page summary of the Hebrew Vowel system (nikkud)
I also made numerous other changes and enhancements over the last few days (too many to list here). I also added some new Hebrew learning products that you might want to consider purchasing, both because they are excellent tools for learning Hebrew and since a percentage of the proceeds helps this lowly ministry stay online as an educational resource.
03.05.06 I added the weekly Torah reading for this coming Shabbat (Tetzaveh). Monday of next week (March 13th, 2006) is the festive occasion of Purim, so you might want to plan your seudat this week!
03.03.06 I updated the weekly Torah portions to include a navigation bar that will let you go from week to week (backward and forward) throughout the yearly reading cycle (I also added the traditional Jewish blessings read before and after reading from the Torah on each page). In the future, I hope to enhance these short summaries to include more in-depth studies based on the Hebrew text - but time is short (the Mashiach Yeshua is coming back soon!) and I also want to add additional grammatical and exegetical materials here as well, so we will see how things develop, IY"H.
In case you haven't joined the online discussion forum, might I encourage you to do so? Actually, the forum has taken a sort of life of its own, and really functions as a place of fellowship and sharing among people of various levels of Hebrew knowledge. We hope to see you there!
03.01.06 I have been very busy making some code changes for the online forum over the last few days; however, tonight I stayed up late and wrote abbreviated dvar Torah on Parashat Terumah for this coming Shabbat. I hope this might encourage you.
We serve under a covenant mediated by our Kohen Gadol Yeshua, the mediator of the better covenant, based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). We are not subject to the "fire and darkness of smoke" given at Sinai, but rather can come into the Holy of Holies - made without hands - by means of the sacrficial lifeblood of the Mashiach Himself, poured out so that we may have "at-one-ment" with God. Praise the Name of the LORD - we can ascend His holy mountain without fear of being judged, since the One who loved us and gave Himself in place of our sinful condition has made ultimate Kapparah for us!
02.23.06 I wrote an abbreviated dvar Torah on Parashat Mishpatim and put it online for this coming Shabbat. (I really wish I had more time and energy to devote to this parashah, since it is extremely rich and full of wonder...)
02.22.06 On account of my illness, the Torah portion will be later than usual this week, though I hope to have it finished by Thursday night (just in time for Shabbat). Your prayers for my health are sincerely appreciated.
02.19.06 Though I am still on "sabbatical" rest due to my illness, I wrote a short Hebrew meditation on Psalm 34:7 (Desires of the heart) that I hope you will find edifying and encouraging. It is my prayer and utmost hope that we will all find our ultimate satisfaction and delight in the celebration of the Presence of the L-rd. All other "loves" that we hold dear become "disordered" and verge on the idolatrous if we do not give preeminence to the Reality of the L-rd and His love for us. May it please the L-rd to help us all live fully awake lives, attuned to Voice of His Love calling out to us.
I will be writing my dvar Torah on parashat Mishpatim tomorrow night, IY"H. I am beginning to feel better physically, though I have developed asthma that seems to come on in the evening. I will be going to see the doctor again soon, and hope that I can get some sort of medication to help, since the asthma attacks keep me up at night... Your prayers for this ministry and my health are sincerely appreciated.
02.13.06 I wrote the Torah summary for parashat Yitro for this coming Shabbat. Note that this is an abbreviated parashah, since I am taking a sabbatical rest in order to recover from my recent bout with pneumonia.
PS. The Hebrew for Christians web forum was hacked over the weekend (see note below), and I spent most of the day today restoring the database and various operating system files. However, after installing some additional security patches late this evening, the database server again crashed, and the board is once again not running. My apologies to all of you who are members of the chavurah. Please understand that I am doing my best to get the discussion forum up and running as quickly as I can. Thank you for your patience - and more importantly, for your prayers.
02.11.06 The Hebrew for Christians online discussion forum appears to have been "hacked" and rendered inoperable. I have a call in to my IP to see whether we can revive it from its incapacitated state. Since the forum is vulnerable to outside attacks, I am considering replacing the current forum software (phpbb) with vBulletin, since vBulletin seems more secure from malignant hackers. This is no small proposition for me, however, since the present forum already has over 17,000 posts now online, and the thought of doing a conversion to new software seems especially daunting... and time-consuming.
02.11.06 This coming Monday is Tu B'Shevat (the 15th of Shevat), a sort of national Arbor Day observed in the land of Israel. Though it occurs in January/February on the Gregorian calendar, Tu B'Shevat traditionally marks the first day of spring in Israel, too. Click the image below for more information about Tu B'Shevat:
02.06.06 I am still recovering from my recent illness with pneumonia, and I am trying to abstain from the practice of staying up late every night working on this site (see the notes below).... Nonetheless, I provided a very brief Torah summary for both Parashat Bo (which was late last week) and Parashat Beshalach (for this coming Shabbat). I apologize that these summaries are "thin" in comparison to my previous divrei Torah, but I am pretty wiped out right now and unable to do much, I'm sorry to say. Please keep me in your prayers, since I am still experiencing chronic fatigue and pain. Thank you.
01.27.06 I am on a sabbatical (see the notes below), though I managed to write a highly abbreviated weekly Torah Summary on Parashat Va'era. After my last bout of pneumonia, I feel like I have half the strength I used to have. If you are willing to pray for me, I would appreciate it very much....
01.26.06 I am taking a week's sabbatical, perhaps more. The repeated long nights of working on the site until dawn have caught up with me, friends, and I am still trying to fully recover from pneumonia. There will be only a very limited Torah portion for this coming Shabbat. If you have any questions or comments, please email me or visit the online chavurah (forum). Thank you.
01.23.06 I have been very busy on the forum making updates, and also preparing for this week's Torah summary... In a few weeks, IY"H, I will return to working on this site, and in particular, adding new material to the Grammar sections. Until then, please follow along with the weekly Torah readings and pray for the grace of God to be given to us all.
01.19.06 I finally found the time to write up the weekly Torah summary for Parashat Shemot, as well as brief summaries of the Haftarah and Brit Chadashah readings. I hope these will help you better understand the Scriptures and more fully love the LORD God of Israel!
01.17.06 I have been very busy lately. Presently I am working on the weekly Parashah for this coming Shabbat (Shemot), as well as an all-Hebrew tract that lists some of the prophecies of the Mashiach and their fulfillment in the New Testament. I hope to put this online sometime, though it might be a few days. The love of our LORD be with you and your families... - John
01.08.06 I wrote my weekly Torah summary for Parashat Vayechi (the last Torah portion for the book of Genesis) and added it to the site. If you have been reading Torah since the cycle began last Simchat Torah, please receive my heartfelt Yasher Koach and Chazak! for completing sefer Bereshit!
01.02.06 I hope you had a peaceful and joyous Christmas and Chanukah Season! I wrote the weekly Torah Summary (Vayigash) and added it to the site late tonight.