October 2007 Updates
10.31.07 I added additional words to the Hebrew Glossary pages. I am still feverish and dealing with the neck/shoulder pain. Tomorrow I go see a doctor for follow up. Your prayers are sincerely appreciated, chaverim.
Words, Words, Words!
10.30.07 I am feeling a little better today (B"H) so I decided to update the Hebrew Glossary pages with 70 or so new terms and phrases. There are more to come (IY"H), and I am hoping to write a new article (or two) on middot halev (the moral qualities of the Jewish heart) and pri ha-ruach (the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23).
Your prayers for my health (see below) are sincerely appreciated, chaverim.
I'll praise You in this storm...
10.29.07 I went to ER yesterday... the pain was too much. I was put on an IV drip (anti-inflammatory and morphine). It helped, but I have got to tell you that this pain was excruciating..... My prayers were right out of the fire. I know many of you know what I mean.
I am back on Prednisone and Vicodin(sp?) to help me sleep... I have a follow up in a few days. Your prayers are appreciated, chaverim....
Note: My ISP was hit by a email trojan, so email sent to me is being delayed at this time. The issue should be resolved in a few hours, IY"H.
Parashat Chayei Sarah
10.27.07 I updated the Torah reading for this coming Shabbat (Chayei Sarah), which continues the great story of God's sovereign love for Abraham and his family.
New Hebrew Glossary Quiz: Middot HaLev
10.27.07 Words and definitions mean little apart from their historical and cultural context. In order to understand the meaning of a word, it's always good idea to understand both its history (etymology) and also its usage over the millennia. To expedite your level of literacy, I began working on a simple flash program that lets you to quiz yourself on 50 Hebrew words/phrases that represent some contemporary Jewish values (middot halev). I've just started this project, but here is a crude first attempt at what I have in mind:
Let me know if you like this idea. I can add sound to each word as well.
New Hebrew Meditation
10.25.07 There are times when the only prayer I can muster is a simple, "Help, Lord!" -- usually said when I am wrestling with anxiety or difficulties of one kind or another. Living in the "already-not-yet" state of redemption is a soul-building venture that helps us to acquire the precious middah (quality) of patience: "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19).
Today I wrote another (very brief) Hebrew meditation based on Psalm 38:22 (Make haste to help me) that I hope might encourage you to persevere despite whatever trials you are facing, chaverim. Suffering produces endurance (Rom. 5:3), but God surely is faithful "to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 1:24).
10.23.07 I updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Vayera).
This wonderful portion of Torah includes the Akedat Yitzchak ("binding of Isaac"), the story of how Abraham was tested by God to bind his beloved son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, the place of the future Temple. At the last moment, God stopped him from going through with the sacrifice and provided a substitute. Abraham then named the site Adonai-Yireh, "the LORD who sees."
As Messianic believers, we understand the Akedah as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice the heavenly Father would give on our behalf. Unlike Abraham, God the Father actually offered His only Son upon Moriah in order to make salvation available to all who believe. As Abraham said, Elohim yireh-lo haseh ("God Himself will provide a lamb").
Consider how the Akedah provides a prophetic picture of the Mashiach Yeshua as the "Lamb of God" (Seh haElohim) who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Both Isaac and Yeshua were born miraculously; both were "begotten sons"; both were to be sacrificed by their fathers at Mount Moriah; both were to be resurrected on the third day (Genesis 22:5, Hebrews 11:17-19); both willingly took up the means of his execution; and both demonstrate that one life can be sacrificed for another – the ram for Isaac, and Yeshua for all of mankind. Indeed, Isaac is a clear picture of the Greater Seed of Abraham to come, the One who would remove the kelalah (curse) and save us from death.
The Akedah of Yeshua (i.e., His crucifixion at Moriah) was the altar where the justice and chesed (love) of the Father fully met.
Midrash about Moriah
According to Jewish legend, God chose the site for His Holy Temple in order to honor brotherly love.
In the days before the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) was built, two brothers, Shimon and Levi, inherited a large field from their parents. This field was on Mount Moriah, in the heart of the Promised Land. Instead of dividing the land into separate fields, however, the two brothers decided to work the field together. Every morning they got up early and worked the days together. At harvest time, they would cut the wheat, bind it into sheaves, and divide it equally into piles. Then each brother would carry his pile into his own storehouse.
One year, after harvesting all day in the sun, the brothers decided to sleep beside their piles of sheaves instead of carrying them to their storehouses.
But late that night Shimon could not sleep. He kept thinking of his brother Levi. "It isn't fair that the harvest is divided equally between us. Levi has a family to support, but I am alone.... Why should I take so much? It is better that he receive a bigger portion." So Shimon got up, gathered up as many sheaves he could from his pile, and surreptitiously placed them on his brother's stack. He then went back to his own pile of sheaves and slept sweetly.
Awhile later, Levi awoke from a dream. In his dream he saw his brother Shimon as an old and sick man. He thought, "It isn't fair that the harvest is divided equally. Shimon is all alone. He has no wife or children to care for him when he gets old. He will need more grain to help him prepare for his future. It is better that he receive a bigger portion." So Levi got up, gathered up as many sheaves he could from his pile, and surreptitiously placed them on his brother's stack. He then went back to his pile of sheaves and slept sweetly.
When daylight came, the two brothers went to load their wagons but were amazed to see the same number of sheaves in their piles as before. Perplexed, they quietly finished their work and went home.
But neither brother could sleep that night. Each kept thinking of the needs of the other. Finally, each went to his storehouse, took as many sheaves as he could carry, and began walking quietly to his brother's house. Suddenly, halfway between their homes, the two brothers saw each other in the moonlight. In an instant, they both understood the other's heart. Embracing, they gave each other a kiss of brotherly love.
And it was on that spot, atop Mount Moriah, that God chose the site for His Holy Temple.
For some more about Moriah, see this brief article.
Dealing with Pain...
10.22.07 Well I finally couldn't take it anymore. I went to the doctor today and they think I have a compressed disk in my neck. That explains the neck/shoulder/arm pain and numbness I have experienced the last few months. I am scheduled to see an occupational therapist later this week. Meanwhile I am on some drugs to help me get some sleep, reduce the inflammation...etc. I appreciate any prayers you can offer for me and this ministry.
A word of thanks to you...
10.19.07 I want to thank each and every person who has helped Hebrew4Christians stay online over the last couple years. As you might already know, I am not paid by a church, synagogue or other organization for my work here, so whatever I do at this site (and on the forums) is done on my own time and effort. When you email me with a kind word or offer a donation, it really lifts my spirit and encourages me to go on, despite some setbacks I've faced over the last year. Please know that I deeply appreciate your love, support, and especially your prayers. Kol tuv, chaverim.
10.18.07 A Messianic friend recently remarked to me, "Jews don't need to convert to Christianity; they just need to be "completed," like the Apostle Paul who became a completed Jew." Now what do we make of such a statement? Click here for some thoughts concerning the question.
The Olive Tree Metaphor
10.17.07 I created the following simple flash animation to help visualize the relationship between Israel and the Church (for a detailed examination, click here). And for additional information about God's sovereign plan concerning Israel, please read Romans chapter 11.
Parashat Lekh Lekha
10.16.07 I updated the weekly Torah portion (Lekh Lekha) for this coming Shabbat.
Please keep me and my family in your prayers, friends. I have been experiencing a lot of pain as a result of going without sleep the last few years. You might not know this, but I am not paid by a church, synagogue or other organization for my work here. All that I do at this site (and on the forums) is done on my own time -- and often at the expense of sleep. Please ask the LORD to impart supernatural grace to keep going. I am also starting to write a new book that I hope will be of value to many of you. Simply put, your prayers for my health are absolutely vital for this ministry to continue. Shalom.
...because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop (1 Cor. 9:10)
10.12.07 I will be on sabbatical from heavy development of this site for awhile, though I will still update the weekly Torah portion. I hope to develop a new book during this time, should it please God. Shalom chaverim.
Yiddish, Yiddish, Oy! Bim-bim-bam!
10.11.07 I added some more Yiddish words and soon hope to create a flashcard applet that you can use to review your Yiddish (and Hebrew) vocabulary. However, time is limited and I am still wrestling with a lot of chronic pain, so I am unsure if I will be able to find the energy to create this.
Noah as a picture of Yeshua
10.09.07 I updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Noach). For some additional drash, read below.
Noach's name comes from the shoresh (root) nacham, meaning to comfort. Other Hebrew words that use this root include nichum (compassion), nuach (rest), and menuchah (rest from work). Noach's very name foreshadowed the coming of Yeshua. His father Lamech (meaning "powerful one") regarded Noach as a deliverer who would comfort us from the ravages of the curse (Gen. 3). In like manner it was prophesied that Yeshua would give us everlasting rest: "His rest shall be glorious" (Isa. 11:10), and He offers rest to the weary (Matt. 11:28, Heb. 4:9). His sacrifice on the Cross at Moriah undoes the kelalah (curse) over the children of Adam. Indeed, His life, sacrifice, and resurrection was like a "magic spell" that "spoke backwards" the sin of the "First Adam" - and by means of His deliverance the power of the curse was forever broken (Gal. 3:13, John 3:14, 2 Tim.1:10; Heb. 2:14; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 John 3:8, Rev. 22:3). By means of His Spirit we are given an everlasting comfort (John 14:16).
In the days of Noach "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (Gen. 6:5, 11), but Noach "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:8). This is yet another foreshadowing of the Father's choice of Yeshua as the uniquely Righteous Deliverer of the world (Matt. 3:17). Of Noach it was said that he was ish tzaddik (a righteous man) who was tamim (blameless) in his generation: Et-haElohim hithalekh-noach - "Noah walked with God" (Gen. 6:9). Likewise Yeshua was entirely tzaddik (Rom. 5:19, Heb. 4:15, 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:1), blameless (Heb. 4:15, 1 Pet. 3:18), and One who walked with God (John 5:19, John 8:28, etc.).
Just as Noach's obedience to God saved a remnant from all the earth, so did Yeshua's obedience result in "the saving of his house" (Heb. 11:7). And just as God blessed Noach and his sons" (Gen. 9:1) and with them established His covenant, so in greater measure was this fulfilled in the Person of Yeshua, who provides all spiritual blessings to those whom He calls his brethren (Eph. 1:3, Heb. 13:20; Heb 2:11). Yeshua is indeed the "righteous man" who saves us in the true teivah (ark), the body of His Church.
Eschatologically, the "days of Noach" are a picture of the idolatrous conditions of the world that prevail just before the calling up of the followers of the Mashiach Yeshua before the time of Great Tribulation upon the earth: "As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:37). The seven day warning given to Noach suggests the seven year tribulation period to come (Daniel's 70th week). But please note that "the LORD shut him in" (Gen. 7:16).
Noach's teivah had God Himself as its designer (Gen. 6:15f), and salvation in Yeshua is by God's design (Jonah 2:9; Eph. 1:9, 1:11). Noach's ark contained only one door (Gen. 6:16), just as Yeshua is the only door to salvation (John 10:9). Noach's ark contained three levels (Gen. 6:16) and salvation has three own experiential levels (2 Cor. 1:10): past, present, and future. In the past (at Moriah) Yeshua delivered us from the penalty of sin; in the present, He is delivering us from the power of sin; and in the future He will deliver us from the very presence of sin. Baruch Hashem - may that day come soon!
Yiddish Glossary Updates
10.08.07 Today I added a few more words to the Yiddish Glossary section of the site. I hope you find them useful....
I am quite relieved that the holidays have finally ended (even though they are precious and meaningful times, of course). I am in serious need of a rest and for some physical healing chaverim. My arms and left shoulder are constantly hurting. I think I have some sort of nerve damage to the shoulder. Please offer up a prayer for me. I can only sleep for a few hours and then wake up in a lot of pain. I takes hours before the pain diminishes. This really wearies me. Thank you so much.
10.05.07 (Simchat Torah, 5768) I updated the weekly Torah portion (Bereshit) and created a new PDF file for you to download. If you have been regularly reading and studying Torah with me, rejoice that we have completed the last book of Torah (Devarim) and are now begining anew with Bereshit (Genesis).
During the concluding pasuk of each book of the Torah it is customary for the congregation to stand as the Torah reader reads the final words. Then, in a dramatic manner, he signals to the congregation, who then respond with "Chazak, chazak, ve-nit chazek" (Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!):
This is a cry of encouragement to continue with the reading of the next book, and to return to this one again in due course. This custom may be derived from the words of Joshua to the children of Israel, "chazak ve'ematz" (be strong and courageous).
The Hebrew greeting Yasher Koach! means "May your strength be firm," and is often said to those who have had performed Torah reading aliyah at synagogue.
Note that the Hebrew Scriptures begin -- not from the first person perspective of some man's understanding of God -- but from an omniscient third person perspective, a Voice that reveals the Glorious Power that created the entire cosmos by means of His Word. The very first verse of the Bible, then, reveals the triune nature of God, further indicated by the use of the plural form of the name Elohim with the singular verb bara (he created). Indeed, in this very first parashah we a read a direct quotation from this Elohim that uses plural personal pronouns: "Let us make man in our image and in our likeness." Ultimate reality therefore is not some sort of monism wherein God is seen as an abstract monolithic Power that created all things (like an Unmoved Mover), but is echad (one) in a sense that is inherently relational, personal, and the expression of everlasting love.
10.05.07 (Simchat Torah, 5768) Shalom chaverim v'chag sameach. How good is God to give us the precious gift of His Word! Torah joy is our song tonight!
I am considering starting a new book project, the details of which I cannot not disclose at this time. If you have a heart for this ministry, I earnestly ask you to pray for me -- for wisdom, grace, and strength. I will provide more details later. Todah rabbah and kol tuv.
10.04.07 (Sukkot 7, 5768) Here are even more pictures of our sukkah taken this evening, chaverim. Our lulav is pretty dried out now and our etrog has shrunk a bit, but we look forward to that coming day when all of us will tabernacle together with the Lord in His coming glorious kingdom (Ezek. 37:26-28, Zech. 14:16-17, Rev. 20:2-7).
The last words recorded of Yeshua are: "Surely I come quickly" (Rev. 22:20):
This statement of intent is immediately followed by the last prayer recorded in the NT: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus":
When Yeshua comes -- and He surely will -- He is returning directly to Jerusalem to rule as Mashiach ben David over Israel (Isa. 9:3-7; 11:1-10, Luke 1:32-33; Rev. 20:2-7). Then will be gloriously fulfilled all the covenantal promises given to Abraham and King David (and attested to by the Hebrew prophets). King David himself will be resurrected to function as Yeshua's regent (Jer. 33:15,17,21; Amos 9:11), and other tzaddikim will rule as well (Isa. 32:1; Matt. 19:28). Jerusalem, the great "City of God," will finally be the political and spiritual center of the world (Zech. 8:3).
Eschatologically, this time period is called yemot hamashiach - the "days of the Messiah." During these days Israel will finally experience peace (Micah 4:2-4; Isa. 32:17-18), as well as tremendous joy (Isa. 61:7,10) and comfort (Isa. 40:1-2). All the nations of the earth that survived the Great Tribulation will finally concede that Israel is indeed the "apple of God's eye" and make their way to Jerusalem to pay homage to the King of the Jews during the Feast of Sukkot (Zech. 14:16-17). No longer will Israel be subject to the oppression of the goyim, but God Himself will place His sanctuary in her midst (Ezekiel 37:26-28). Social injustice and sickness will be removed from the earth (Amos 9:13-15, Joel 2:28-29), and the nations will destroy their murderous inventions as "swords are hammered into plowshares" and "spears into pruning hooks" (Isa. 2:4).
May that day come speedily and in our day!
Swords into Plowshares
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
10.03.07 (Sukkot 7, 5768) Last night began Hoshana Rabbah, or the "Great Salvation," a climactic time of praise to the LORD. It is a common practice is to stay awake all night when Hoshana Rabbah begins, reading the book of Deuteronomy and Psalms in preparation for Simchat Torah (which in Israel begins the following day, though in the Diaspora, occurs the day after the intermediate day of Shemini Atzeret). Piska Tava b'Yeshua.
Yeshua (Jesus) is of course the Central Message of the Torah -- its inner meaning and incarnation. He is the Torah made flesh (John 1:14), the faithful Mediator of the New and Better Covenant (Hebrews 8:6), and He does what Moses and the Sinatic covenant could never do, namely, write the Torah within our inward parts and upon our hearts so that we might truly be the people of God (Jeremiah 31:31-34). By means of His sacrificial death, the righteous demands of Torah are fully satisfied, and the LORD is glorified as both just and merciful (i.e., the justifier of those who put their trust in Him).
Since Yeshua the Mashiach (Jesus Christ) is Torah Ha-Emet - the True Torah - we should likewise celebrate the Joy of Torah in our lives. Yeshua is the Living Torah, the Living Word, written upon our hearts so that we can truly dance and embrace the Truth given from God. By means of His suffering, we can now truly dance!
The Torah (i.e., law) is holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12), but those seeking righteousness based on it's demands will discover the tragic fact that it is powerless to impart righteousness and life (2 Cor. 3:7-18). It is sin within the human heart that condemns people - not the Torah. The crucifixion of Yeshua condemned sin in the flesh (again, it did not condemn the Torah) and now the righteousness of God is imparted to those who embrace Yeshua by faith (Rom. 8:3-4). Enabled by the Holy Spirit, with the Torah now written upon our hearts (Jer. 31:31-3; Heb. 8:10-11), we are empowered to fulfill the requirements of the law based on a new covenant relationship with God (Gal. 2:16, 3:2). We no longer seek righteousness by means of maintaining ritualistic or other ordinances (Rom. 4:5, Gal. 2:16) but by receiving the free gift of Mashiach's righteousness imputed to us through our trust (Eph. 2:8-9). Because of Yeshua's victory, we do not strive for acceptance before the Father, we abide within it, chaverim…
Joy despite pain....
10.01.07 (Sukkot 5, 5768) Here are some pictures from our time in the sukkah this evening, chaverim. Chag Sameach and love to you all.
As you can see, we added some further beauty to the sukkah, adding hanging fruit and some additional lights (our custom is to add something of beauty to the sukkah each day for the entire eight days).
Note: I have been dealing with a lot of pain lately -- physical pain -- that is hindering me quite a bit (I had a motorcycle crash about 5 years ago. My shoulder got smacked up pretty good. The year before I had a car accident for which I had neck surgery. These are the two places the pain is most acute). I will probably have to go to the doctor to get checked out. Halevai... "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor 4:16). Our trust is in God for refuah shelmah.... and your prayers are sincerely appreciated!
At any rate, I wish you a yom tov and great joy for Sukkot and always. I added about 30 new Yiddish words to the online glossary today, some of which must be used with care (typical of the sardonic nature of Yiddish expression).
I still hope to take a sabbatical from this site soon. I really need it, LORD knows. I hate to let it sit fallow -- even for a couple weeks -- but on the other hand, I am confident that getting out of the way is often the best way for God to do His work. We don't shvitz our way into heaven, though there are certainly spiritual battles along the way.
Kol tuv chaverim