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April 25, 2015
Iyar 6, 5775

Yom HaAtzma'ut

Tazria
 

Lev. 12:1-13:59

2 Kings 7:3-20

John 6:8-13;
Matt 8:1-17

Metzora
 

Lev. 14:1-15:33

 

Happy Birthday Israel!

Israeli Memorial Day - April 21st at sundown

The Hebrew word zakhar (זָכַר) means "remember," and zikaron (זִכָּרוֹן) means "memorial." Yom HaZikaron (יוֹם הַזִּכָּרוֹן), then, is the "Day of Memorial" for those soldiers who gave up their lives in battle for the creation and defense of the State of Israel. In 1951 the Israeli Knesset established Iyyar 4 (the day immediately before Israel's Independence Day) as Israel's Memorial Day. In more recent times, the holiday has also become associated with victims of political terrorism.

Although Yom Hazikaron is observed on the 4th of Iyyar, it may be moved earlier or postponed if its observance (or that of Israeli Independence Day, which follows it) conflicts with the weekly Sabbath. This year Yom HaZikaron is postponed one day to occur on Tuesday, April 21st at sundown (the first siren is sounded at 8:00 p.m.), with various commemoration services scheduled throughout the following day.

Israeli Independence Day - April 22nd at sundown

After the Jewish people had suffered for nearly 2,000 years of exile as clearly foretold by Moses (Lev. 26:38, 44; Deut. 28:64-64) and the Hebrew prophets (Isa. 43:5-6; Jer. 30:11; Joel 3:2; Ezek. 36:8-10; Hos. 9:1-10, etc.), Israel was miraculously reborn as a nation in their ancient homeland on May 14, 1948 (Iyyar 5, 5708). Today Jews across the world celebrate Iyyar 5 as Israeli Independence Day

As mentioned above, the date for Yom Ha'atzmaut can vary from year to year. For instance, this year it is moved a day later (i.e., to Iyyar 6th). On our secular calendar Independence Day is therefore observed Wednesday, April 22nd at sundown until the following sundown.

Note that the word Atzma'i (עַצְמָאִי) means "independent" in Hebrew. The word atzmaut (עַצְמָאוּת) means the state of indepedence, which comes from atzmi - "my bones" (עֶצֶם). Hence the "Day of Independence" is called Yom Ha'atzmaut in Hebrew. The name reminds us of God's promise to revive the "dry bones" (עֲצָמוֹת) of Israel by bringing the Jewish people back from their long exile (Ezek. 37:4-5).

עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי / am Yisrael chai: "The people of Israel live!"  The nation of Israel is God's "super sign" that He is faithful to His covenant promises (Jer. 31:35-37). Celebrating Israel's independence acknowledges God's loyal love for us all.

Countdown to the Harvest...

We are in the midst of Sefirat Ha-Omer (the "Counting of the Omer"), a 49 day countdown that runs from Nisan 16 through Sivan 5. The first day of the omer count begins on the second day of Passover, and the last day occurs the day before Shavuot ("Pentecost"). On our Gregorian calendars, these dates run from April 4th until May 23rd this year. This is a countdown period leading to the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the giving of the Holy Spirit to Yeshua's disciples...

Rosh Chodesh Iyyar

On the Torah's calendar, the month of Iyyar falls between the great month of redemption (i.e., Nisan) and the third month of revelation (Sivan), and is therefore primarily regarded as a "month of passage" to prepare us for the revelation given at Sinai (Shavuot). Every day of this new month is counted in anticipation of the coming time of Shavuot.
 

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֵיךָ יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ חדֶשׁ טוֹב בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אָמֵן

ye·hi · ra·tzon · mil·fa·ne·kha · Adonai · E·lo·hei·nu · ve·lo·hei · a·vo·tei·nu
she·te·cha·desh · a·lei·nu · cho·desh · tov · ba·a·do·nei·nu · Ye·shu·a · ha·ma·shi·ach · amen
 

"May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers,
that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Amen."

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Note: Regarding the date for the new month, I follow the "standard" calendar system used by the Jewish community living in the Diaspora worldwide. Rosh Chodesh is celebrated for two days on months with just 29 days, so it will begin a day "early" for Iyyar, that is, on Nisan 30, which this year begins Saturday, April 18th after sundown.

Blessing before Torah Study:

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Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
     
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
     
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
     
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
     
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
     
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
     
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
     
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
     
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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