Cheshbon HaNefesh Part 1

The month of Elul really gets the ball rolling for thoughts concerning the Fall Holidays:  Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.  This year Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on Sunday, September 4.  We will talk about Rosh Chodesh in another post.

Selchot (prayers of repentance) and Cheshbon HaNefesh begin near this time.  I will talk about Selchot in the next post.  Today I want to focus on Cheshbon HaNefesh.  Cheshbon HaNefesh is an accounting of our souls.  This is a book written my Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lefin in 1809.  It has a lovely introduction explaining how to use the book to to guard oneself from the evil inclination (yetzer hara) which battles man by using a variety of strategies.  His goal is to teach us to master our thoughts.  Now I would quote 2 Corinthians 10:5b, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah.”

I want to bring out a point here.  It is very important that as we study things within Judaism, we must check ourselves to make sure that we know what is scriptural and what is not.  My purpose in talking about the Cheshbon HaNefesh is to point out the areas it lists to examine ourselves as we approach the Fall Holidays.  It is always a good idea to search to see where we are weak, where we sin.  This can be a useful tool for introspection and self-examination.

The first character trait listed is equanimity.  This deals with rising above the inconsequential.  Being firm in one’s security with the L-rd (My addition).  This trait, when possessed, helps us not to be swayed by every little thing which enters our lives.  I believe one of the most important gifts G-d gives us is the assurance of our salvation once we have received His free gift.  This assurance should put us at ease and make us firm in this foundation so that we are not blown around by every little thing that happens.

I include myself when I say let us pray for G-d to give us His peace in our daily lives so as not to be frazzled and worried about every thing that crops up in our lives.

The second is patience.  “When something bad happens to you and you did not have the ability to avoid it, do not aggravate the situation even more through wasted grief.”  The author suggest that we see G-d’s perfection and His interaction with and care for His creation.  We must really evaluate how we respond to a situation.  Are we gracious, caring, forgiving?  Are we angry, frustrated, cruel?  We cannot always determine what happens to us, but we can determine how we respond.

The last one we will deal with today is order.  We see in the Bible that G-d is a G-d of order.  We see in I Corinthians 14:33:  “For G-d is not (the author) of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”  In Hebrew, the word “shalom” means not only peace, but also whole or complete.  We should not live chaotic, scatter-brained lives.  In order to be effective in our ministry, no matter what it might be, we must live an orderly life.  This will allow us to properly prioritize our lives and accomplish what G-d want for us.

The final step today is to think of these three character traits and see how weaknesses in them are causing sin, disobedience, or omissions in our lives.  This is the time of year when we are to look at ourselves honestly and prayerfully to see where we need to submit in obedience and repent from our disobedience.

 

 

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The Big Reveal!

IMG_2032I’m very excited to show you the finished Discipleship Manual!  Baruch worked very hard with Moran Rosenblit from Hope4Israel to produce this book.  The title in Hebrew is “Foundations of the Faith”.  There is teaching as well as question and answer sections.

We are very excited to get it into the hands of Israelis and help give them a theologically sound base from which their faith can grow!

Shabbat Shalom!

Tonight begins Baruch’s conference in Virginia.  We hope that those who live nearby will be able to come.  We appreciate our friend Patsy who arranged everything.

Please find below a brief commentary from Baruch on this week’s Parasha, Eikev.
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Parashat Eikev (Reward) Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3

In this week’s Torah reading, it is said that “HaShem will not take a bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:17) Throughout the Scriptures, there are several occurrences where those in leadership positions are commanded not to take a bribe. However, it is never said in the Bible, that one should not offer a bribe. Does this mean that it is acceptable for one to do so? The answer is obviously no. The reason why the Scripture only states that it is forbidden to receive a bribe is that if it were not sinful to do so, then there would be an incentive for individuals to try to pervert justice and transgress the law and offer a bribe. The Bible emphasizes that it is wrong for one to accept a bribe, and as a result of this, it removes the incentive for one to behave in such a manner.

Through this, one learns an important principle. Although a person should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, removing the incentive from a particular sin can go a long way in causing another not to sin. This is why sinful behavior can never be rewarded or tolerated. A few years ago I was involved in a situation where someone embezzled money from the estate of another. When this offense became known by the relevant parties, one would think that the offender would return the money and seek forgiveness. This did not take place; rather lawyers were brought in to negotiate a settlement. Years passed before finally the money was returned. In the end, the lawyer fees, other expenses, and the aggravation cost far more than the money which was taken. In fact, it would have been better from a mere fiscal perspective to simply ignore the offense and settle the estate. Many people told me that as a believer I should forgive and be gracious. However, this misappropriation of the concept of grace would have actually been a betrayal of my responsibilities to the deceased. In addition to this, many people were watching. For example, the children and grandchildren of the offender were closely following this matter. It was important for them to learn that such behavior is not beneficial. In other words, it was proper for them to understand that there was no incentive to act in such a manner. In the end, the offender just wanted to be finished with the ordeal, for the money became irrelevant and it was returned.

In short, it is very important for a society to remove any and all incentives concerning sin. When this principle is ignored, sin will increase.

Shabbat Shalom

Decision made!

Thank you to everyone who responded!  I do want to clarify that it will be me, Rivka, writing the posts.  As I can, I will try to also post something now and then from Baruch.  Not sure if you all know that I am Baruch’s wife.

I will begin with Rosh HaShanah.  I will really try to do my best to make the posts interesting, informative, include pictures and hopefully link a few videos that I make along the way.  We can all learn together!

Blessings!

Tell Me What You Think

I am prayerfully considering blogging the Biblical calendar…meaning posting about every fast, holiday, new moon, shabbat, etc.  Please give me your feedback.  If you think it would be helpful and you would enjoy it, leave me a comment.  Thanks!

Shabbat Shalom

Here is a commentary by Baruch, concerning this week’s Parasha, Va’etchanan.  If you have not done so, you might want to check out http://www.1335kingdom.com and order Baruch’s latest e-book concerning the end times.  Shabbat Shalom!

Parashat Vaetchanan (And he entreated) Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11

Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses sees what is called “This Good Mountain” and “the Lebanon” (see Deuteronomy 3:25). Although most English translations think that this is the area called Lebanon, like the country today, it is odd that the direct article appears on the word, i.e. the Lebanon. Most Rabbinical scholars believe that this passage related to Jerusalem, which is the good mountain and is called “the Lebanon” because this word can mean white, as in a reference to purification, i.e. the altar which would be built there for atonement.

The point that I want to make is that Moses longed to make it to Jerusalem. I wonder if we have that same desire to enter into the New Jerusalem? At our study center in Israel, we are meeting on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday evening after Shabbat) to study the book of Luke. Recently, we completed Luke Chapter two and learned about Shimon (Simeon). It is said about this man that he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. This is not only a reference to the Messiah, but what Yeshua will establish, i.e. the Kingdom.

If you had to make a list of ten things in which you were most interested, where would the Kingdom be on that list? I was teaching about the Kingdom and I mentioned that the fullness of the Kingdom would come in two distinct stages. The first is the Millennial Kingdom and the second and final stage is the New Jerusalem. The fact that more and more “evangelicals” state that they are amillennialists is most alarming. This tendency reveals a problematic methodology in interpreting the Scriptures and a lack of concern for the Gospel. Did you know that more people will accept Yeshua as L-rd in the Millennial Kingdom than in this age?

I have encountered several pastors that do not want to admit that they reject the Millennial Kingdom and therefore they identify themselves as Pre-millennial. This term simply means that Yeshua will return before the Millennial Kingdom. However, they simply only believe in one stage of the Kingdom or combine some of the elements of the Millennial Kingdom into the New Jerusalem and affirm that Yeshua comes before the Kingdom; hence they say they are Pre-Millennial. Such a methodology is dishonest and outside the bounds of Systematic Theology. It also is irreconcilable, as when one studies both the Millennial Kingdom and the New Jerusalem there are things, which are mutually exclusive. For example, there is a Temple in the Millennial Kingdom, but not in the New Jerusalem.

I strongly recommend that one embark on a Biblical study of the Kingdom in its entirety, you will be glad you did.

Shabbat Shalom

 

Baruch in Virginia

Below is the flyer with all the information for Baruch’s speaking event in Virginia.  If you know anyone who lives nearby, please email them and invite them.  It will be a great time of learning.

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