Shabbat Shalom! – Parashat Ki Tavo

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Please find below a short commentary by Baruch on this week’s parasha, parashat Ki Tavo.  May you have a blessed Shabbat!

This week’s Torah reading opens up with the commandment to offer to HaShem the first of every fruit from the harvest. This commandment is connected to the Children of Israel dwelling in the Land. In fact, when the individual gives the offering to the priest he is to say,

I have declared today to HaShem your G-d that I have come to the Land which HaShem swore to our forefathers to give to us.” Deuteronomy 26:3

This offering should not be confused with the tithe, but rather it should be understood as a special symbolic offering that acknowledges the faithfulness of G-d is a unique way. As believers in Messiah Yeshua we too should acknowledge the faithfulness of HaShem to save us. In the Deuteronomy passage the individual would place a small amount of the first fruits in a basket and walk to the priest to present him with the gift. The amount that was given to the priest was not the important part of this command; rather it was the public observance of the command that was its main aspect. The idea here is that when one would place the fruit in the basket and would walk to the priest, his neighbors would see this one performing the commandment and would remember that it was HaShem who faithfully kept His promise which He had made with the Patriarchs. Also it was expected that others would see this and follow suit and obey the command.

Perhaps as believers in Yeshua, we too could remember the faithfulness of G-d to send His Son into this world and save us, by blessing another. There are those who are in need all around us. Some are in financial need, while others just may need some encouragement or some act of kindness. It would be wise to pray and ask G-d, how He would like you to acknowledge His faithfulness to others. It is not enough just to do the act, but remember the declaration that one was commanded to make before the priest. It is important that we share with those who HaShem leads us to bless the reason why we are doing this. People need to hear that we are responding to the faithfulness of our G-d to provide forgiveness for our sins by Messiah’s death on the tree. Without this declaration, the key element of the mitzvah (command) is not being fulfilled.

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Change

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Recently while traveling, Baruch and I were struck by the cooler weather in those other locations.  While in Israel our daily temps are in the 90s, we encountered weather in the 60s in Moscow and Europe.

We also have Rosh HaShanah and the other Fall Holidays coming up very soon.  This prompted me to think about changes I need to make in my life.  Last  year, (Aug 30/Sept 2), I wrote 2 posts about Cheshbon HaNefesh, where we seek to evaluate ourselves in an honest way and seek forgiveness for G-d for our sins.

One thing I wrote in my post last year was, “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.”  I must admit that I have failed in improving in this area.

I believe this is a great time to take an accounting of our lives.  I know that for myself, there are a lot of changes I’d like to make.  Whether it is in my spiritual life, family life, or daily life, there are changes which I believe I am to make.

Are you convicted of some changes you need to make?  Maybe in your prayer life or Bible study time?  Maybe you are to rearrange some priorities?  We all have areas of our life which need to be submitted to the will of G-d.

Let us commit together to pray that the L-rd will reveal to us the changes we need to make and show us how to make these changes.

Some Prayer Requests

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There is a great deal of suffering, need and anxiety in the world.  I just wanted to remind all of us of some of the situations we need to be praying about.

There is the escalating situation with North Korea.  We need to be praying for President Trump and his advisors to make the right decisions concerning how the United States should respond.

Hurricane Irma is moving toward the United States, and the latest report I saw showed it heading toward Florida.  Baruch and I moved to Miami in May a few months before Hurricane Andrew hit and we will never forget the devastation.

There is an escalating situation in Myanmar (formerly Burma) where the minority Muslims are being slaughtered by government forces in one of the regions.

We also have a huge praise.  There is a couple very close to us and the husband had Israeli citizenship but not the wife.  They were being given a hard time for quite awhile and, praise the L-rd!, she received her Israeli citizenship yesterday.  We are so happy for them.

Another praise.  We have over 450 people signed up for our Conference, which will be held in Orlando November 10-12.  Please pray for the many volunteers who are working to help make this a great conference.  We are very thankful for them.

Thank you so much for your prayers for LoveIsrael.  We appreciate them so much.  Let’s also be sure to read Scripture which gives us assurance and promises from G-d and encourage us in all things.  We know that He is in control and His plans and purposes will NOT be thwarted.

Negativity

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I was reading the headlines in my Yahoo feed over the past couple of days and saw headlines such as:

“Joel Osteen is being ripped to shreds over his response to Hurricane Harvey”

“Pence Is The Latest Trump Official To Be Doing Stuff A President Used To Do”

“Melania Trump’s tweet on addiction recovery backfires”

The words “viral”, “backlash”, “pushback”, “blasted”, are in almost every headline! People are using every opportunity to belittle, condemn, and spread hate.  I’m certainly not saying that we are to applaud and approve of the evil that is going on around us, but we do need to be very cautious in how respond.  This is not always easy.

Is our goal to be right, or to communicate truth in love?  Every word we say will be scrutinized.  Remember what Yeshua said!  “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:  be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16).

I’m sure you are recognizing as well that we are now not only in the minority, but we are being marginalized and hated more and more, just as the L-rd told us!

This is the time for us to be supportive of one another and pray for one another!

Parashat Ki Teitzei – Shabbat Shalom!

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Beautiful flowers I saw during my walk yesterday.

Baruch and I are looking forward to walking tonight to one of the Messianic congregations here in town.  Baruch will be teaching on Preparation for a Biblical Yom Kippur, as it is exactly 4 weeks until the holiday.  It is hard to believe that Rosh HaShanah begins at sundown on September 20!

I will be sharing a lot of holiday related information over the next few weeks.

Here is a brief commentary from Baruch on this week’s Parasha:

We are called to live in a way that manifests our relationship with G-d to others. Sadly many believers forget this when conducting business. I have found some wanting to use the concept of grace as a means for not meeting their obligations. Such a tendency is strongly condemned in this week’s Torah portion.

You shall not cheat a poor and needy hired worker from among your brothers or one who dwells within your land or within your gates. On that day you give to him his wages, the sun should not set upon him, for he is poor, his life depends; he should not have to call to HaShem concerning you, for this shall be a sin for you.” Deut. 24:14-15

The way one conducts business says a great deal about one’s true spiritual condition. If one cannot be trusted to handle properly the things of this world in a manner that brings glory to G-d and testifies to one’s faith in Yeshua, then why would G-d entrust to this person the things connected to the Kingdom of G-d?

In this passage it specifies the poor and the extremely needy individual. Why? Because, those who are in great need are the very ones of which it is easiest to take advantage. Once I saw a person who was certainly above middle class dealing with someone who had done some lawn work for him. Although it was clear that he had agreed to pay the individual at the end of the day this man said he did not have the agreed upon amount. He knew this man had traveled more than an hour to work. He told him he could pay him less right now but if he wanted to receive the full amount he would have to come back the following week. Because the man needed the money very badly he agreed to take the lesser payment. I learned that it was not because he truly lacked the money to pay, he saw the plight of the man and exploited his need for money immediately to his financial advantage. As our text says—this is sin!

And important thing to remember is what the prophet Haggai says about gains through unrighteousness means. HaShem will take them away. How you ask? Perhaps through a sickness that causes you to pay the doctor money you were not expecting to have to pay or through an unexpected car repair. Believe me G-d has no trouble collecting ill gotten gains. Beware He often takes interest with them.

Why not pray this Shabbat on how to reflect the business practices that Messiah would practice and place your focus on the treasure in heaven.

This and That.

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Baruch and I arrived home around 3am on Tuesday.  Tomorrow night, Erev Shabbat, Baruch will be speaking at a Messianic congregation here in town.  Then Motzei Shabbat, Saturday night, we will be at our study center.

Yesterday we had a Skype with a couple in Singapore.  They are going to try to set up some meetings for us with leaders both from Singapore and Indonesia and Malaysia. In some countries, there are many people very hungry for Bible teaching.  We are hoping to get the word out about Baruch’s teaching and would like for it to be used as much as possible.  While we are not allowed to go to Indonesia or Malaysia, due to our Israeli citizenship, we can still use a network of people to get the word out.

I would like to ask all of you to please pray for people who are going through difficult times.  I receive a lot of emails, and I know that there are people who feel alone or isolated.  There are also people who are struggling to find a community of believers who believe the whole Bible as the holy, inspired, inerrant Word of G-d.  Won’t you join me today to pray for them?  Thank you!

 

The Choral Synagogue in Moscow

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Yesterday, Baruch and I walked to the Choral Synagogue in Moscow.  It is a very large, beautiful building.  It was quite an arduous process to get the synagogue built.  The first set of plans were rejected.  The second set were approved and work began in 1887.  In 1888, construction was halted, as the city intervened again and required the builders to remove the completed dome and the exterior image of the scrolls of Moses.  Construction dragged on for five years, until the authorities once again banned it in 1892, giving two choices: sell the unfinished building or convert it into a charity.

The synagogue was finally used for its intended purpose beginning in 1905.  In 1948, Golda Meir came to the synagogue.  She made an unofficial visit there for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur in her role as Israeli Ambassador to the Soviet Union.  The Soviets were furious.

Here are a few photos I took during our visit.  As you can see, it is a very beautiful synagogue and very large.  According to internet sources, there are about 100,000 Jewish residents of Moscow.

The ladies’ section.

 

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