April 2008 Updates
Yom HaShoah - יום השואה
04.28.08 Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, takes place on the 27th of Nisan, which this year begins Thursday May 1st (at sundown) and runs until sundown on Friday, May 2. 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:
Parashat Kedoshim - פרשת קדשים
4.27.08 The weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat is Kedoshim ("holy ones") and concerns the call for the followers of the LORD God of Israel to become holy themselves.
In Hebrew, the word kedushah (from the root k-d-sh) means sanctity or "set-apartness" (other Hebrew words that use this root include kadosh (holy), Kiddush (sanctifying the wine), Kaddish (sanctifying the Name), kiddushin (the ring ceremony at a marriage), and so on). Kadosh connotes the sphere of the sacred that is radically separate from all that is sinful and profane. As such, it is lofty and elevated (Isa. 57:15), beyond all comparison and utterly unique (Isa. 40:25), entirely righteous (Isa. 5:16), glorious and awesome (Psalm 99:3), full of light and power (Isa. 10:7), and is chosen and favored as God's own (Ezek. 22:26). Indeed, holiness is a synonym for the LORD Himself (Hakadosh barukh hu - The Holy One, blessed be He).
The idea of the holy (kadosh) therefore implies differentiation: the realm of the holy is entirely set apart from the common, the habitual, or the profane. The holy is singular, awe-inspiring, even "terrible" or dreadful (see Neh. 1:5; Psalm 68:35). As the Holy One (hakadosh), God is utterly unique, distinct, sacred, and "set apart" as the only One of its kind. He alone is worthy of true worship and adoration, since He alone is peerless, without rival, and stands in relation to the world as Creator and Lord. Yes, only the Lord is infinitely and eternally Other -- known to Himself as "I AM THAT I AM" (Exodus 3:15).
Holiness, then, implies more than an abstract or indifferent "metaphysical" separation (as is suggested by various forms of dualism), but rather separation from that which is mundane (chullin), banal, common, or evil. In other words, holiness implies absolute moral goodness and perfection. It is impossible that the Holy One could condone sin, since this would negate the distinction between the sacred and profane and thereby undermine the nature of holiness itself. The Holy is in opposition to the profane and therefore the LORD must hate and oppose that which violates the sacred.
Various practical mitzvot are given in this Torah portion through which a Jew is sanctified, or set apart to be kadosh - holy - and therefore fit for relationship with God. God is not only "wholly Other" (i.e., transcendent) but also pervades all of creation (i.e., "immanent"), and those who are called into His Presence must therefore be holy themselves. Such practical holiness results in sanctification obtained through the observance of commandments (mitzvot). These commandments include both mitzvot aseh (commandments to do something) and mitzvot lo ta'aseh (commandments to refrain from doing something). In addition, chukkim, or "statutes" are given that further separate the Jew from the customs and profanity of the surrounding nations.
For example, though it is inevitable (and psychologically necessary) that we make judgments about other people, the Torah states, b'tzedek tishpot 'amitekha, "in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor" (see also John 7:24), which implies that we must be forgiving and good when we think of other people.
The focal point and the very heart of what holiness represents is stated as v'ahavta l're'akha kamokha - "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Note that the direct object of the verb (ahav - to love) is your neighbor. But who, exactly, is my neighbor? Some Pharisaical types have claimed that the word rea (neighbor) refers only to one's fellow Jew - not to others at large in the world. However this is obviously false, since the "stranger" (ger) is explicitly identified to be an object of our love (Lev 19:34). And note that Yeshua the Mashiach answered this question by turning it around. Instead of attempting to find someone worthy of neighborly love, I am asked to be a worthy and loving neighbor myself (Luke 10:29-37).
The phrase v'ahavta l're'akha kamokha is considered the most comprehensive rule of conduct toward others found in the entire Torah. Thus Hillel, a contemporary of the Lord Jesus, commented regarding this phrase: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary." The Lord Jesus said "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt 7:12). The apostle Paul also wrote "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (see Rom. 13:10, Gal. 5:14).
The mystery of holiness is that it is bound up in true love...
Book Project Update
04.26.08 It's been a grueling process, but the new book is nearly complete! I will provide you with more details shortly. Thank you all for your prayers for this work, chaverim!
New Hebrew Mediation: Living Transparently
4.24.08 I wrote a new Hebrew mediation (Living Transparently) based on Deuteronomy 18:13: "You shall be wholehearted (tamim) with the LORD your God." I hope you find it helpful, chaverim.
Something I find fascinating is the psychological phenomenon sometimes referred to as a "Gestalt Shift," a perceptual transformation that suddenly unveils new understanding. A classic example is the chalice/face drawing (shown below). In order to see the faces (or the chalice), we must choose our background which then transforms our frame of reference:
People live in despair because they are often double-minded. Consciously or not, they are attempting to look at two different things at once. When it comes to matters of ultimate concern, however, we cannot vacillate in our perception without risk of spiritual dissolution.
The theme of the meditation might be thought of as an appeal to come to the place of decision in your life. While that is true, it's important to remember that we cannot know the Living God unless He first chooses to reveal Himself to us. How can a dead man open his eyes and see otherwise? (Eph. 2:1-10)
The keyword here is tamim. Some versions translate it use in Deuteronomy 18:13 as, "Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God" (KJV), or "You shall be blameless before the LORD your God" (ESV); and so on. Another way to translate this verse is, "You will be complete with the LORD your God." On account of the finished work of Yeshua, our fulfillment and eternal destiny is made secure (Rom. 8:29-30).
Happy Passover, chaverim!
In each and every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as though he actually left Egypt. As it says: "You shall tell your son on that day, It is because of this that God took me out of Egypt" (Exodus 13:8).
Passover 2008 Collage
4.21.08 Here are a few pictures of our Seder we took Saturday evening, chaverim. It was a wonderful time together, and the Hebrew4Christians haggadah read smoothly (the entire Seder, from start to finish, took only 2 1/2 hours):
From right to left: 1) John carrying urchatz; [top]: 2) the seder table; 3) reading the haggadah; 4) Josiah eating matzah ball soup; [bottom]: 1) the seder plate; 2) Josiah eating matzah; 3) Josiah washing hands; 4) John bringing out the matzah tosh.
From right to left: [top]: 1) beloved Olga; 2) Irina lights the Pesach candles; 3) getting the matzah ready; 4) John and Josiah; [bottom]: 1) Josiah; 2) Reading the 4 questions; 3) even more food; 4) Josiah watches the the Breaking the Matzah (Afikomen).
LE'SHANAH HABA'AH BI'YIRUSHALAIM" - "Next year in Jerusalem", halevai. Wishing you all Chag Sameach and joy, chaverim.
Pirkei Avot and the Omer
Note: A tradition is to read a different chapter of Pirkei Avot (פרקי אבות, "Sayings of the Fathers") for each Sabbath during the Omer Count. Here is a sample from chapter one:
שמעון הצדיק היה משיירי אנשי כנסת הגדולה. הוא היה אומר, על שלושה דברים העולם עומד--על התורה, ועל העבודה, ועל גמילות החסדים
Shimon the Righteous was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: On three things does the world stand: on the Torah, on the service to G-d, and on deeds of kindness. (Avot 1:2)
Gemilut Chasadim are acts of chesed (love, kindness) that include giving tzedakah (charity), bikkur cholim (visiting the sick), tikkun olam (repairing the world), and many other ways of helping others.
You can read the Pirkei Avot online here.
Taking Passover Personally
4.17.08 It's not enough to recall, in some abstract sense, the deliverance of the Jewish people in ancient Egypt, but each Jew is responsible to personally view Passover as a time to commemorate their own personal deliverance as well. Therefore the sages teach: B'khol-dor vador:
B'khol-dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo k'ilu hu yatza mi-mitzrayim - in each and every generation an individual should look upon him or herself as if he or she (personally) had left Egypt.
The kavannah (inner intention of the heart) for the observance of Passover is summed up well by this simple phrase: B'Khol-dor vador. As we partake of the Seder, we must embrace it as our own -- as if we were personally there (in Egypt, or at the foot of the Cross) and understand that this mighty redemption was accomplished for my sake, as well as for yours...
We recall the words, bishvili nivra ha'olam -- "For my sake was this world created," while we also recall the words, anokhi afar ve'efer -- "I am but dust and ashes."
For Messianic believers, kavvanah refers to our apprehension of the ultimate deliverance from the bondage of sin and death through the grace and love of the Mashiach Yeshua -- our True Passover Offering.
Were you there, at the Cross, where Jesus died for your sins?
The 17th of Nisan
4.16.08 Passover is Nisan 15th, which this year begins Saturday April 19th (at sundown). The resurrection of Yeshua occurred on Nisan 17, which this year occurs sometime before dawn Tuesday, April 22. The Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Rosh HaShana 11a) states that "In Nisan our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt and in Nisan we will be redeemed." Nisan is also the month assigned to the tribe of Judah (from which tribe Yeshua came).
Other events that occurred on this date are:
- Noah's Flood Ended: Gen. 8:4. Note that the seventh month was later designated as the first month at the time of the Exodus (Ex. 12:2). Our new creation in Messiah began on the anniversary of the rebirth of the world.
- Israel Crossed the Red Sea: Some sages believe that Israel crossed Yam Suf on this date. They reason that from the crossing of the sea to the arrival at Sinai was 47 days (Ex. 19). Three days later would mark the 50th day as the original occasion of Shavuot and the commemoration of the giving of the Torah.
- The Wave Sheaf offering was made at the Mishkan (and later, at the Temple). This was the first fruit of the Spring barley harvest. For more information, see Reshit Katzir.
- Haman was hanged. According to various Jewish authorities, the villain Haman was hanged on the gallows he had specifically prepared for Mordechai the Jew on this date.
- Jesus was resurrected on Nisan 17. In 1 Cor. 15:20-23 Paul clearly links the firstfruit offering with the resurrection of Yeshua our Mashiach. Yeshua's resurrection was like a "wave offering" presented before the Father as the "firstfruits" of the harvest to come! Moreover, Yeshua presented His firstfruits offering to the Father on this day (Matt. 27:52-53). Yeshua is the first-begotten of the Father (Heb. 1:6); the Firstborn of Creation (Col. 1:15-16); the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5) and is the Firstfruits of those who are to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Baruch HaShem. And just as He is our Firstfruits, so "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created" (James 1:18). For more information, see Reshit Katzir.
Inspecting the Passover Lamb
4.15.08 Today is Nisan 10 on the Jewish Calendar, the date when Yeshua rode into Jerusalem upon a lowly donkey just a few days before His crucifixion (Matt. 21:1-16). The Holy City would have been a busy place, bustling with excitement and (due to Roman oppression) filled with Messianic expectation. Countless Jews would have streamed in from around the world to observe the Passover with their extended families. The Law required (Ex. 12:1-6) that each family select a lamb (called korban Pesach) four days before the sacrifice was to be offered at the Temple. During this time the lamb would be examined to ensure that it was defect-free and therefore acceptable for sacrifice at the Temple.
Note that when Yeshua first entered the city, He was greeted by the cries of Jewish Passover pilgrims: "Hosanna!" This word is actually the phrase "hoshiah na" (הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא), meaning "please save" or "save now." The Jewish pilgrims were actually singing from Psalm 118:25-26 and applying it to the greater Son of David, Yeshua, who was now in their midst:
Matthew notes that hoshiah na was addressed to Yeshua Himself, "to the son of David"
(לְבֶן־דָּוִד), thereby indicating that the Messianic Hope was presented to Israel (Matt. 21:9). For a flickering moment proper praise was given to Yeshua as Israel's King (i.e., Mashiach), though of course He had purposed to come to them as Mashiach ben Yosef, their Suffering Servant, the One of whom the prophet Isaiah clearly foretold.
Upon entering Jerusalem, Yeshua immediately went to the Temple and drove out all who sold there, overturning the tables of the "moneychangers" and the seats of those who sold pigeons (Matt. 21:12). There were actually TWO separate cleansings of the Temple recorded in the New Testament. The earlier cleansing is described in John 2:13-22 and the later one is described in (both) Mark 11:15-19 and Matthew 21:1-16. In Mark's account of the second cleansing, Yeshua actually stopped the "carrying of the ritual vessels" -- meaning He LITERALLY stopped the sacrifices of Israel. Mark 11:16 states: "And he would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the Temple." Despite performing miraculous works of healing in the Temple that day -- including opening the eyes of the blind and causing the disabled to walk -- the kohanim (chief priests) and soferim (scribes) were "indignant" at His actions and therefore sought to put Him to death (Mark 11:18).
In the evening Yeshua left the Temple for Bethany (בֵּית עַנְיָה), the home town of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, where He stayed the night. The following morning He walked back to Jerusalem, and being hungry, saw a fig tree along the way. When He saw that the fig tree was without any fruit, Yeshua pronounced these words: "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once (Matt. 21:18-19).
Over the next two days, Yeshua was accosted by various priests, scribes, Pharisees, etc. -- the whole religious establishment -- which culminated in His denunciation of them beginning in Matthew 23. He then laments over Jerusalem and retreats from the Temple with these words:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple (Matt. 23:37-24:1).
In Matthew 24 Yeshua's disciples made a last-ditch appeal for Jewish tradition and ceremony by pointing out the glory of the Second Temple. "Look at these beautiful buildings of the Temple, Lord..." It was then that Yeshua pronounced judgment on the Temple and the Levitical system, predicted the Roman destruction of the Temple, and so on. This was apparently unfathomable to the disciples, who apparently still considered Yeshua to be a "reformer" of Temple Judaism, perhaps the one who would restore it so that the Kingdom of God would be finally manifest upon the earth.... Yeshua went on to explain the signs of the End of the Age (אַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים) that would precede the promised Days of Messiah (יְמֵי הַמָּשִׁיחַ), otherwise known as the Messianic Kingdom. He foretold that one day praise would rightly be given to Him as Israel's True King, but only after the travail of the coming Great Tribulation upon the earth. Only after the Jewish people cry out to Him as their LORD (Matt. 23:39) would the Kingdom of God be established in Zion.
Over the course of these days Yeshua was thoroughly "inspected" by the kohanim but was found to be tamim - without spot or blemish (Lev. 22:21-22). During His early Passover Seder with His disciples, Yeshua foresaw His imminent sacrifice and associated the matzah with His body and the Cup of Redemption with His shed blood (Matt. 26:26-29). The New Covenant was going to be "cut" in the Person and Sacrifice of Yeshua... Later that same night, Judas betrayed Him and Yeshua was arrested at Gethsamane (גַּת־שְׁמֵנָה). An illegal convention of the Sanhedrin was called. Yeshua was falsely accused, abused, and the following morning sentenced to die. He was bound and taken to Pontius Pilate who, though he found no fault in Him, spinelessly complied with agitated the crowd that called for His crucifixion (Matt. 27:11-31).
Yeshua was crucified (before sundown) on Nisan 14, prophetically corresponding with the time when the Passover lambs were sacrificed at the Temple. He was on the cross for six (Jewish) hours (see note below). He was nailed to the cross at 9:00 a.m in the morning and was dead by 3:00 p.m. Darkness was over the land for the last three hours Yeshua was on the Cross (Matt. 27:45). His body was removed before sunset, just before Passover began, in accordance with Jewish law.
A Note about the Jewish Hour (sha'ah)
In rabbinical thinking, the hour is calculated by taking the total time of daylight (from sunrise until sunset) of a particular day and dividing it into 12 equal parts. This is called sha'ah zemanit, or a "proportional hour."
Since the duration of daylight varies according to seasons of the year, a proportionate hour will therefore vary by season. The "sixth hour of the day" does not mean 6:00 a.m. or even six 60 minute hours after sunrise, but is the 6th proportionate hour of the 12 that are counted for the day in question.
For example, if the sun rises at 4:30 a.m. and sets at 7:30 p.m., the total time of daylight is 15 hours. 15 hours * 60 minutes is 900, which divided by 12 yields a proportional hour of 75 minutes. The "sixth hour of the day" therefore begins 450 minutes after sunrise, or about 11:30 in the morning.
The calculation of these zemanim ("times") are important for the observance of Jewish holidays and Sabbath candle lighting hours. The results will vary depending on the length of the daylight hours in the particular location.
The Cross of Yeshua is the true Holy of Holies where God Himself offered His Son as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world... It is there that He made agonizing intercession for us -- the Just for the unjust -- so that we are spared from God's wrath and eternally reconciled to Him. Just as the original Passover foreshadowed God's deliverance of His people from Egypt and slavery, so the Passover of Yeshua represents God's deliverance of us all from the power and slavery to sin.
It is through His substitionary death combined with our faith in His love for us that we are imputed righteousness before God Himself (2 Cor. 5:21). For this Passover season, let us all say, "Blessed is He (Yeshua) who comes in the Name of the LORD!" Amen.
Resurrection Day: Passover is Nisan 15th, which this year begins Saturday April 19th (at sundown). The resurrection of Yeshua occurred on Nisan 17, which this year occurs sometime before dawn Tuesday, April 22. For more information, see Reshit Katzir.
Dates of the Passover Season
4.10.08 Technically speaking, Passover (Pesach) is a one day holiday that recalls the deliverance of the LORD by means of the blood of lambs immediately followed by the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot). Modern Judaism, however, combines both of these into an eight day holiday that begins on the 14th of Nisan and ends after sundown on the 22nd of Nisan. This year (5768) Pesach starts Saturday April 19 at sundown and ends Sunday April 27th at sundown (in Israel Passover lasts for seven days, not eight). The first and last two days of Passover are Sabbaths when no work (melakhah) is permitted. The intermediate days (days 3-6) are called Chol HaMo'ed and only essential work is permitted. In the Diaspora, the Passover Seder takes place on the the first two nights of the festival, though in Israel there is only one Seder, on Nisan 14.
The Passover Lamb, called korban Pesach (קרבן פסח), is the central focus of this holiday. Without the lamb, there literally is no Passover... After the destruction of the Temple, however, Rabbinical Judaism developed the Seder as a ceremonial replacement for the Torah's commandment to eat the sacrificed lamb (actually, lamb is one of the foods traditionally not eaten during a modern Seder, though the ze'roa, or roasted shank bone, is included as a reminder of its importance). The Rabbis developed fifteen distinct steps in the traditional Seder (which you can learn about here).
Passover is the only festival that the LORD made special provision so that if someone missed the occasion (on account of illness, ritual impurity, or some other valid reason), he or she could make it up 30 days later on Iyyar 14 (Num. 9:9-12). This is called Pesach Sheni. God wants His children to observe this festival, chaverim...
In addition to getting the house ready for Passover (by removing all traces of chametz), it is customary to give money to the poor to help them enjoy this sacred time. Funds set aside are sometimes called Ma'ot Chittim, "coins for wheat" (מַעוֹת חִטִּים) and are given as tzedakah for the less fortunate (you can offer a donation to Israel's poor here).
The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat HaGadol (the Great Shabbat) because it was the day when the Jewish people miraculously took sheep (which were considered sacred to the Egyptians) for the Passover Lamb to be sacrificed four days later. This year Shabbat HaGadol occurs on April 19th (the same day as Passover itself).
Sefirat Ha-Omer (the "Counting of the Omer") begins from the second night of Pesach until the day before Shavuot ("Pentecost"), i.e., from April 21st until June 8th this year. This is a countdown period leading the giving of the Holy Spirit to Yeshua's disciples...
Because Yeshua is the true Lamb of God "who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), Passover marks the ultimate liberation of the entire world from the bondage to evil. Like the original Passover in Egypt, the blood sacrifice of the Lamb causes the wrath of God to "pass over" those who are trusting in the LORD's provision for redemption, but in the case of the sacrifice of Yeshua, this redemption delivers us from the cruel bondage of Satan and causes the wrath of God to be put away from us forever (Heb. 10:12).
For more information about Passover, please see the Passover Pages, starting here.
Parashat Metzora - פרשת מצרע
4.07.08 I updated the Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Metzora).
How was it that Yeshua was able to touch the metzora ("leper") and yet remain clean (Matt 8:1-4)? Only because He Himself is the LORD, the Healer. Just as Yeshua spoke with greater authority than Moses (Matt 5:21-48), so He was able to do what Moses (and those under the Levitical system of worship) could not do -- namely, reach down in compassion and take away the uncleanness from our lives.... Only Yeshua enters the "leper colony" of humanity and takes away our tzara'at (sin) by becoming ish machovot - a Leper Himself, the Just for the Unjust, that He might make us acceptable before the LORD:
Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
4.06.08 Shalom Chaverim... I have been experiencing some pretty rough attacks from the evil one lately and ask you to offer up a prayer. I am also struggling with physical pain.
Self-Examination and Passover
4.03.08 Shalom Chaverim... This is just a personal note to let you know that I have been feeling somewhat weary lately. The "synchronicity" issue I wrote about (see below) might be behind some of this. Though we are indeed "eager to keep the feast" of Passover this year (1 Cor. 5:7-8), many good Christian friends have already celebrated "Easter" a couple weeks ago and that sadly creates a sense of "disconnect" for us.... We yearn for the day when we are all united in the truth of Yeshua our Mashiach. Maran Atah!
Notice that this passage (1 Cor. 5:7-8) also commands us to perform our own bedikat chametz - or search for leaven in our lives... We are called to become a "new lump," that is, a new substance that is untainted by the sour and rotting influences of our past lives. Since the Mashiach has been sacrificed as our Passover Lamb, we are new creations, made "unleavened" by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we are told to "put away" the old nature - the yetzer ha'ra (evil inclination) - and purge the old influences that inwardly canker and make us sick. In other words, since we are now "new dough" made free from the corrupting power of sin by the grace of God, we should be on guard not to allow the secretive influences of "leaven" back into our lives. (A little leaven leavens the whole lump.) We are made holy and clean by the sacrifice of the true Lamb of God Himself and our lives should reflect that truth... May God help us all walk without hypocrisy in our lives. Amen.
The Biblical New Year - and Passover
4.01.08 This Saturday (at sundown) marks the Hebrew date of Nisan 1 (called Rosh Chodesh Nisan), which recalls the start of the Exodus from Egypt and the beginning of Jewish national history. Rosh Chodesh Nisan is the first day of the first month of the Hebrew Calendar (i.e., Biblical New Year's Day) and a time to begin preparing for Passover (the Seder begins Saturday, April 19th at sundown this year). In addition to the regular Torah reading, Exodus 12 (concerning the "beginning of months") is read and Ezekiel 45 is recited as Haftarah.
I also updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Tazria) and also updated the PDF file.
Starting next week, most Orthodox Jews will begin (in earnest) the arduous process of preparing their homes for Passover. All chametz (yeast) must go!
Wishing you shalom rav and blessings for the year to come, chaverim!