Parashat Kedoshim

I wanted to emphasize Baruch’s commentary on this week’s parashah by also placing it here.  Shabbat shalom!

In this week’s Torah portion, idolatry is a major issue. HaShem warns of the serious offense of offering a child to Molech, a pagan false god. One who is caught committing such a heinous sin is to receive the death penalty. Naturally, this punishment was administered by stoning. Who is called to administer this stoning? The answer is the people of his community. In Chapter 20 and verse 4, one reads about what will be the response if this community fails to carry out the death sentence.

In this instance, not only is the man punished, but so also is his family. In fact the verse states,

And if the people of the land ignore with their eyes from that man, when he gives his offspring to Molech, not putting him to death, I will place My face against that man and against his family and I will cut him off and all who stray after him to commit harlotry after Molech from the midst of their people.” Leviticus 20:4-5

It is important to notice that when the community responded correctly, only the man was punished; but when the community ignored this sin, both his family and others who followed in this wickedness were also punished by HaShem. Why is this? The answer is that when a community ignores sin, then the individual will have an influence on those around him, first his family and then others; and in the end the spiritual condition of the community suffers significantly more.

Today, there is an epidemic within many believing communities. What is this epidemic? It is that sin is not dealt with like the serious matter that it is. It is not a coincidence that in this same section of chapter 20 (see verses 9-21) additional grievous sins are mentioned. When one commits a sin, it is truly sad. G-d is gracious, the blood of Messiah cleanses and there is of course forgiveness available for the believer. This is the power and the great blessing of the New Covenant ratified with Yeshua’s blood. Often the term “restoration” is used in dealing with the truly repentant sinner.

It is most significant that one understands the implications of the use of the term— restoration. Perhaps an additional word is necessary to help one properly comprehend the intent of the use of restoration. This word would be reconciliation. Let’s consider an example to assist us in reaching the proper conclusion.

If a spiritual leader should fall into a sin such as adultery, the community should take the following actions.

1. Bring this leader to repentance. It is only after he acknowledges his sin and seeks forgiveness from those whom he has offended, can the process of restoration begin.

2. The community needs to pray and act in all ways possible to help facilitate reconciliation between the leader and his wife, children and other family members.

3. The community itself needs to heal from this betrayal.

4. Here is the most frequent error that is made. Never, and I mean never, should the community attempt to restore this man to his former position of leadership. Many may hear this and feel that I am limiting the grace and power of G-d to bring about full restoration. I am not!

When the community has as its goal the restoration of their fallen leader, it places unfair pressure upon the wife and children to get on board with the restoration; and if it should take much longer for the wife to heal than it takes for the community to heal, then she is often viewed as unforgiving and lacking in her spirituality. This of course is a false perception concerning the wife.

Recently I read with deep sadness of a Christian pastor who failed morally, and only a few days had passed when members of this church were stating they looked forward to the pastor’s “restoration” and what G-d was going to teach him to share with them about this incident. Let me state something that may offend some, but when one commits adultery there should not be placed upon the offended spouse any assumption of reconciliation. According to the Law, the one who has committed adultery is to be stoned. Ladies and gentleman, Yeshua did not change the seriousness of this sin. Nor did He say the punishment is not warranted. Rather Yeshua said, “The one who is without sin cast the first stone.” I am certainly not without sins. I think every man can say in regard to this sin, “That if it were not for the grace of G-d, there goes I.”

The offended spouse may need significant time for healing. My concern is that the church is ready for things to go back to how they were way too quickly. (Personally I do not think that a man who has committed adultery should lead a congregation.) I realize many disagree with me, but let me be most clear in regard to my previous statement— never should one be returned to the same pulpit.

The family needs time to heal without any consideration of a so called “restoration”. This issue is so important and needs to be handled with love, compassion, and forgiveness. But please remember, the one who needs the greatest amount of prayer, grace, and love is the offended spouse. Failure to acknowledge this in both word and deed will actually hinder the family from truly experiencing a Godly reconciliation. The last thing, in fact, that the congregation should ever consider is returning the offender to the pulpit.

Shabbat Shalom

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Chol HaMoed Pesach

Chol HaMoed are days during a holiday which are not a Sabbath or Yom Tov.  We always look forward to these days, which occur during Passover and Sukkot.  During this time, the children are out of school and this is the time when families travel and picnic throughout the country.

Yesterday, Baruch and I decided to take advantage of the day and headed to Tel Aviv.  Many people do not like Tel Aviv; the hustle and bustle and traffic jams.  But I love it.  It has such energy and variety of people.

We left early and started our day at the southern tip of Yafo (Joppa).  Yafo is an ancient city, where Simon the Tanner lived.  See Acts 10, beginning with verse 5.  It wasn’t crowded at all.

We walked along the coast all the way to the old port area, which they have remodeled with shops, restaurants and play areas for children.  By this time, the crowds had started picking up.  By the time we were walking in southern Tel Aviv again, it was wall to wall peope.

We walked all through the city and had a lovely day.  I hope you all are enjoying the wonderful Passover holiday!

I did want to share one funny story.  Baruch and I came across two men in the street yelling at each other.  Baruch remarked, “I think they are going to hit each other!”  All of a sudden, they grabbed each other, kissed cheeks, and bade each other farewell!!  The culture here is so interesting.  It is hard to tell if people are mad at each other or just conversing!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

Passover Part 2

Some people have asked me how I organize my Passover preparations and seder meal.  For cleaning, I begin with the bedrooms and bathrooms and work my way toward the kitchen.  My children are old enough that they can clean their own rooms.  This entails taking everything out of drawers and cleaning the drawers thoroughly, washing windows, changing sheets and sweeping well.  I keep the kitchen for last.  I throw out all food items with leaven in them.  But, for the 2 weeks or so leading up to Pesach, I try to use up all my spaghetti, cereals, etc., so as to minimize what needs to be thrown away.  I remove everything from the refrigerator and clean the entire inside with soap and water.  I then replace the shelves and line them with aluminum foil.  I similarly clean my stove, microwave and stovetop.  After everything is clean, we replace dish scrubbers with clean ones.  I then close up the cabinets and cover them with paper and use my Pesach dishes and pots and pans for the holiday.

Seder night preparation.  First I determine how many people we will be having for the seder.  Last year we had our family plus 7 guests.  This year it looks like we will be having our family plus 8.  I then decide upon a menu.  On the left side of a full sheet of paper I write the menu.  On the right hand side I list all of the ingredients I will need to purchase to prepare the menu.  I have kept the sheets of paper for several years now and at the end of each year I write notes to help me better prepare for the next year.  For example, I have found that the grocery stores sell out of cakes, cookies and chips in the middle of the chag (holiday).  Therefore, I purchase extra so as not to run out.

Also, don’t forget to buy the items for the seder plate!

Pesach (Passover) Part One

We read about the institution of Pesach in Exodus chapter 12.  There we read that on the 10th day of the first month (Nissan) that each household was to take a one year old lamb, without blemish, into the house to care for.  Should the household be very small, one and his neighbor may join together to share.  The lamb was to be kept and cared for until the 14th day of Nissan, and then he was to be killed.  It is important to note that on that same day, at the same time of day, Yeshua died on the cross for our sins.

The Israelites were then to take the blood of the slain lamb and place it upon the lintel and doorposts of their home, so that the firstborn of that home would not be slain.  In that same way, the eternal punishment for our sins, those of us who have accepted Yeshua as our Messiah, our sins have been covered by the blood of Yeshua.

As we know, the Israelites had to leave Egypt in haste and did not have time for their dough to rise.  In commemoration of this, during Passover we do not eat bread, but matza.

We are in the time of Pesach preparation.  All those who observe the holiday are in the midst of Pesach cleaning.  This can be very involved.  In the neighborhood where we used to live, you would actually see people dragging their stoves outside to thoroughly clean them inside and out.  Cupboards and closets are emptied and cleansed to make sure there is no Chametz (leaven) present.  This can be food in the kitchen or crumbs in the sofa cushions.

During this time I also set up a special table and begin filling it with Passover foods.  During the holiday, the supermarkets will run out of cookies, cakes, etc., which are kosher for Pesach, so I buy all I need early.

For the duration of the holiday, special dishes and pots and pans are used.  During the rest of the year, these are usually stored in an out of the way place and then brought out just for the holiday.

I hope you have all begun your Pesach cleaning!  Stay tuned for part two….