Shimon Peres 1923-2016

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Tomorrow is the funeral of Shimon Peres.  I did not agree with all of his politics and views, but I admire how he gave his life for Israel.  He was the last of the founding fathers of the Modern State of Israel.  He was the ninth President of Israel, the Prime Minister of Israel (twice), the Interim Prime Minister (twice) and was a member of 12 cabinets.  At the time of his retirement in 2014, he was the world’s oldest head of state.

Peres could speak Polish, French, English, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew.  He really was an extraordinary and gifted man.  He was educated in the Talmud by his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, who later was burned alive, along with the rest of Peres’ family who remained in Poland, by the nazis.  The actress Lauren Bacall was his cousin.

Peres and his immediate family immigrated to the land of Israel in the 1930s.  Here, he was very active in the youth movement, agriculture, and the Haganah (became the IDF).

While reading about Shimon Peres, what I found very interesting is that he wrote songs and poetry and one of his songs was performed by Andrea Bocelli!

Let’s take this opportunity to pray for the leaders of Israel.  They are under tremendous pressure from other governments and the United Nations, not to mention all of our security issues related to our “neighbors” and our enemies within.

Why Do We Travel?

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On the train in Romania

Some of you may wonder where Baruch and I travel and why we do it.  I think that is a very good question.

As English speakers, we have the huge blessing of a plethora of Bible study materials in the form of books, videos, television programs, etc.  Many people around the world know some English and are able to benefit from the teaching of LoveIsrael.org.

We are contacted regularly by people around the world asking that if we ever make it to their country, they would love for Baruch to speak at their congregation or that they would like to help put together a conference for us.

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At a synagogue in Kiev

One of the places we visited first was Romania.  Through that original contact, we have gone from Baruch speaking at 1 location to 5 locations in 2 different cities.  We also found the wonderful people at CredoTV who are doing the filming and production of our English television program.

When we go to these other countries, such as Romania, the Ukraine, or the Netherlands, they provide interpreters, so that everyone is able to understand the messages.

In the Netherlands, our conferences are now very well attended and self-funded.  We have a couple who have graciously volunteered to take care of all of the arrangements and promotion for our conferences there, as well as maintain a new LoveIsrael.org website in Dutch which is currently being developed.

Because some of the places we go were very affected by the Holocaust, many of the people either do not know much about Judaism and Israel or have heard false teaching.  We are taking the opportunities to share with people teaching from the Word of G-d as well as why Israel is important today and that G-d is not finished with her.

We are very excited about the growth of LoveIsrael.org around the world and are very thankful for the people who have volunteered to promote our work and teaching.  We are hoping the model in the Netherlands can be replicated in several countries in the future.

Please pray with us as we seek where to minister in the coming year!

THE FALL FESTIVALS

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The Fall Festivals begin with Rosh HaShanah at Sundown on Sunday, October 2.  Baruch has written a new article giving an overview of the Fall Festivals.  Hope you enjoy it!

The Fall Festivals

In this article, we will study the appointed days of the L-rd which take place in the seventh month. There are four special festivals which are in this month. According to the names given in the Torah, they are the Day of Sounding or the Memorial of the Sounding, the Day of Atonements, the feast of Tabernacles, and the Eight Day Assembly. Where as the festivals which occur in the Spring clearly related to Messiah’s Yeshua’s First Coming, many authorities believe that the Fall festivals relate to His Second Coming. To this view I offer a word of caution. While it is true that Yeshua did something significant on each of the Spring festivals:

Passover— He offered His life as the Passover sacrifice.

Resheet— He rose from the dead, the day that the counting of the omer began.

Pentecost (Shavuot)— He gave His Spirit on the conclusion of the omer period.

However; this does not mean that on each of the Fall festivals Yeshua will act in some specific manner similar to those significant events that He did on each of the Spring festivals. Rather, it is my opinion that the Fall festivals reveal theological truth that will help the reader understand major events that will take place in the Last Days.

Let us now embark in a brief study of each of the Fall festivals with the objective to learn the theological message that these appointed times reveal.

The Day (or Memorial) of the Sounding

This festival is commonly called today Rosh HaShanah or the Jewish New Year. However, in the Torah there are two similar names given to this appointed day. In Leviticus 23:24, the term זכרון תרועה appears, which means the Memorial of Sounding. The term “sounding” refers to the sounding of the Ram’s Horn, i.e. the Shofar. The term יום תרועה (Yom Teruah), the Day of Sounding, is found in Numbers 29:2. Once again, the emphasis of this festival relates to the Shofar. The fact that the Sages of Judaism mandated that Genesis chapter 22 be read on this festival explains a great deal. This chapter is about Abraham’s offering up Izchak (Isaac). At the last moment, the Angel commands Abraham not to harm his son, but there is provided in place of Izchak a ram, which is caught by his horns. It is in memorial to this event that the Shofar is sounded. What is the theological significance of this festival?

Izchak is known as the child of the promise (see Paul’s teaching in Galatians 4:23). This means that the Ram was provided by G-d so that the covenantal promises which G-d had made to Abraham would not die. Hence, on the festival of the Sounding, communing called the Feast of Trumpets, one should remember what HaShem provided so the one that has faith, like Abraham, can receive the outcome of the Covenant, i.e. the Kingdom.

It is not a coincidence that it is the Sounding of a Trumpet which will accompany what Paul calls our blessed hope (also known as the Rapture). I shy away from making a statement like others that the Rapture will occur on the Feast of Trumpets; rather, I prefer to state that it is possible to understand many truths concerning the Rapture from what one learns from the Feast of Trumpets.

An interesting question concerning this festival is why do the Sages call this day, Rosh HaShanah? The common response is that there are four different New Years in Judaism. New Year for kings and the holiday year: This means that on the first of Nissan (the first month on the Biblical calendar) that a king was given an additional year and it was on the first of Nissan that the Holiday cycle began again.

New Year for tithing animals: On the first day of the sixth month (Elul) each animal would be given an additional year.

New Year for trees: On the fifteenth day of the eleventh month (Sh’vat) all trees would be given an additional year. This was to assist in fulfilling the commandment concerning trees not to eat of its produce for three years and in the fourth year give all the produce to the L-rd and only in the fifth year was a tree treated in the normal manner for trees.

Rosh HaShanah: This is the first day of the seventh month. Instead of sharing with you here the traditional explanations, allow me to present a more mystical view. The Hebrew word ראש Rosh can mean: head, chief, beginning. The Hebrew word שנה means year, but is derived from the Hebrew verbal root for change. Hence, Rosh HaShanah can also be understood as The Beginning of Change. The point which I would like to make is that the Fall festivals all relate to a Kingdom Change that is coming and it is our Messiah, Yeshua Who will act in the midst of these changes to ultimately bring about His Kingdom.

The Day of Atonements

The days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonements are called days of repentance or the days of awe, as one should be in awe of G-d’s great mercy to forgive those who have sinned against Him.

It is most significant that in the Hebrew Bible this day is referred to as יום הכיפורים the Day of Atonements. Most non-Hebrew speakers do not realize that the phrase is in the plural. What is the purpose of the use of the plural? It has a dual purpose. The atoning death of Yeshua does not just have implications for this world, but also for the age to come, i.e. the Kingdom. Notice how both the Feast of Trumpets and Yom HaKippurim relate to the Kingdom. What is taught theologically about this festival? Although all people need forgiveness from their sins and this requires that the sins be atoned for, it is important that although one is commanded to prepare his heart for forgiveness, it was one who was anointed by G-d who did all the work for atonement, i.e. the High Priest. It is significant that the Torah states that the High Priest was anointed (See Leviticus 16: 32). The term anointed is formed from the same Hebrew word from which the term Messiah is derived. Hence, it is through the work and calling of the High Priest that one can learn a great deal about the work and calling of the Messiah to deal with the sins of humanity.

The Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles)

The major theological message of the seven days of this festival is to trust in the L-rd for all things. There are two primary commandments associated with Sukkot. The first is to make and dwell in a sukkah (booth or tabernacle) for seven days. The purpose of this commandment is to remind the Children of Israel of the forty years they were in the wilderness and how G-d was faithful (dependable) to provide for all of their needs. The second commandment was to gather the four species; a palm branch, willow leaves, myrtle leaves, and an etrog (the fruit of a citron tree). One is commanded to gather this in his hands and wave it in traditionally six directors (North, South, East, West, up and down). Although there are different interpretations concerning each of the four species, most understand that collectively the lulav (the palm branch with the leaves of the willow and myrtle trees) and the etrog relate to G-d’s provision and the six directions which they are waved are connected to the grace of G-d. In other words, a person demonstrates his dependence on HaShem by accepting the grace which was provided to him by G-d.

The first day of Sukkot is a high Shabbat; that is, regardless of on what day of the week this day falls, it is treated as a Shabbat. The seventh day is called Hoshannah Rabbah, which means the Great Salvation. It concludes the special sacrifices and libations which were offered during each day of the festival.

Sh’meni Atzeret (The Eighth Day Assembly)

Not much is said concerning this special day in the Scripture. However, regardless of on which day of the week it falls, it also is treated as a Shabbat. In order to show that it should not be understood as the eighth day of Sukkot, the Sages forbid entering into one’s sukkah on Sh’meni Atzeret. The name of this holiday, the Eighth Day Assembly, relates to the significance of the number eight in Judaism. This number expresses “newness”, “redemption”, and the Kingdom. Hence, one should see a connection between depending upon the grace of G-d and being assembled into the Kingdom.

May each of you have a blessed time remembering these Fall festivals and may the significance of these appointed days assist in your daily walk with our L-rd Messiah Yeshua and your preparation for the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d.

Kingdom Behavior Now

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It seems like we regularly see articles online about how Kate, wife of Prince William, is in trouble with the palace for inappropriate clothing, behavior, etc.  Everyone knows that one day she will be the wife of the king of England.  There are expectations upon her.

This got me to thinking about how we, as believers, are going to be in the Kingdom of G-d. Are we supposed to wait until then to behave in a proper way?  Can we just live any way we want to because we are saved and that’s all that matters?

Absolutely not!  The Scriptures are very clear that we become a new creation.  While we are still in our corruptible bodies and will still sin, we are to strive to live in a Kingdom manner today!  People are looking to us to see if our decision to die to sin and accept the shed blood of Yeshua to redeem us has changed us in any way.  Are we different than the rest of the world?

This is the perfect time to evaluate our lives and see if we are living in a Kingdom manner.  Shabbat Shalom!

Ki Tavo

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A peaceful scene from Eilat, Israel, taken by me this past Tuesday.

Here is a commentary on this week’s Torah Portion, written by Baruch.  Blessings and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashat Ki Tavo (When you come) Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8

Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22

In this week’s Torah portion Moses foretells Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land and an important ritual which the Children of Israel will go through. This ritual involved the 12 tribes standing on two mountains: Mount Grizim and Mount Ehval. Mount Grizim is associated with Blessing, while Mount Ehval is connected to the Curse. What is interesting is why Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Issachar, Yosef and Binyamin are commanded to stand on Mount Grizim; while Reuven, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naftali are ordered to Mount Ehval.

The first six tribes mentioned in this passage all came from either Leah or Rachel. These two women were part of Abraham’s family. Abraham is associated with Blessing. All the other tribes, except Rueven, came from either Bilhah or Zilpah. These two were maidservants and therefore associated with the Curse. Why was this? The answer is because sin and the curse go together. Where is the idea of sin found within the text? One needs to remember that the firstborn of Jacob was Rueven. He was not listed with the other brothers who came from the Matriarchs Leah and Rachel. Why was Rueven left out? The answer is found in the book of Genesis.

And it came about when Israel (Jacob) was dwelling in that Land and Rueven went and laid with Bilhah the concubine of his father and Israel heard.” Genesis 35:22

This sinful act brought a curse upon Rueven as he lost his right as the firstborn and it was given to the sons of Yosef (See 1 Chronicles 5:1).

An important principle to learn for all of this is that it is righteous obedience to the word of G-d, which is found in faith (Abrahamic Faith) that will position a person where he will be blessed by G-d. Those who are related to sin and the bondage which accompany sin will be positioned where they will experience the curse.

Now that this Biblical truth is understood, each person must choose which heritage he or she is going to embrace— the covenantal faith of Abraham or the bondage of the two maidservants. Prior to the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua it was impossible to choose the blessing, but now, as one reads in this week’s prophetic reading (Haftarah),

Arise and shine, for your Light (Messiah) has arrived, and the Glory of HaShem has shined upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

All one needs to do in order to find blessing is to take heed to the words of John who said, “…walk in the Light…” (See 1 John 1:7).

And at the Study Center…

This past week, Shabbat ended at 7:20pm here in Israel.  Therefore, we were able to meet at our Study Center at 8:00 pm for study, instead of Sunday evening.  We will keep this schedule until next summer.

Because of the change, we were able to have Havdallah again, which is a nice, short ceremony to end the Sabbath and bring in the new week.

At our meetings, we begin with prayer.  We then have the Havdallah service, followed by a teaching by Michael, who does some teaching at our study center, on the Parasha, which was Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8).  Then Baruch continued his teaching in the book of Luke in chapter 16.

This week we had a visitor and we also handed out the new Discipleship Manual and 1335Kingdom books.  Everyone is very excited to read and study them.

We appreciate your prayers for the people we meet and study with here in Israel!

Today in Israel

Today I traveled by bus to the south of the country.  I like traveling on Sundays and seeing all the soldiers going to base.  Here are a couple of pictures on the bus and the scenery at our break.

Israel has had another outbreak of terrorist attacks.  There have been 6 in a 24-hour period.  As I write this, I know there have also been attacks in the United States…New Jersey, New York and Minnesota.  It is hard to fathom that people still call Islam a religion of peace!

But we know that in these times evil will be called good, and good, evil.  The changes have come about so quickly.  I remember when Baruch and I were first married, almost 30 years ago, that he said that he saw the end times like water going down the drain of a bathtub.  Think about when you pull the plug.  At first the water swirls around slowly, but then it picks up speed and at the end, it goes down the drain very, very quickly.  And so we see things moving in the wrong direction at a very rapid speed.

There are many things to pray for today:  those injured in the terrorist attacks, Israel and the United States, ourselves that we would remain strong and faithful.

Blessings!