The Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot

In this podcast we finish our series on the ‘fall’ (autumn in Israel) festivals; that is Yom Teruah; Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

We look at the significance of this festival; how it is celebrated; and how it will be in the future.

Some references in the Podcast are:

‘A Crash Course in Jewish History’ by Rabbi Ken Spiro

The Miracles of the Land – see short blog post:

Hope you enjoy this look at a time of rejoicing!

Cosmic Hide And Seek

Here’s a most insightful excerpt from another great commentary on the ‘I will hide that I will hide’ text (Deut 31:18) in last weeks Torah Portion:

This world is like a cosmic game of hide-and-seek. We are given an invitation to this world; the invitation is called life. This invitation itself is a challenge: Who brought us here? Who sustains us here? What are we doing here?

To make the game more challenging and our success more meaningful and rewarding, there are various distractions and “false leads” which can take us away from the game. But our “Host” has not left us without a “crib sheet” to help us navigate this ultimate virtual adventure. He has provided a clear manual that is guaranteed to allow us to unmask Him and the purpose of our existence. This manual is called the Torah.

When we keep the Torah we see our “Host” more and more clearly. But if we don’t keep the Torah, He will hide himself more and more deeply, and finding Him will be very difficult indeed.

“I will surely hide My face.”

In the Hebrew language, the emphatic “to surely do” something is expressed by the repetition of the verb. In other words, the literal translation of the phrase “I will surely hide My face” is “Hide, I will hide My face.”

The very structure of the Hebrew language gives us an insight into this “hiding.” There are two kinds of concealment. One is a concealment where you know someone is there but you just can’t see him. The other is a concealment where you don’t even know if he is there at all. In this second type, the very fact of his being hidden is concealed. This is the ultimate hiding, where the very hiding is hidden.

When we are aware that G-d has “hidden” from us, He is not really concealed, because we realize that our hiding from Him has been reciprocated by His hiding from us. And so, we humble ourselves and return to Him, imploring his forgiveness. However, when the hiding is itself hidden, and we think that this is the way the world is supposed to be, then we are in big trouble because nothing awakens us to return to G-d. We think to ourselves, “This is the way things are supposed to be, isn’t it?”

Ignorance, they say, is bliss. But only while we’re ignorant of our ignorance. One day we will all wake up in the real “Supreme” court and we will then have to pay the price for our years of “bliss.” On Yom Kippur we have a chance to shake ourselves out of our self-inflicted ignorance. A once-a-year opportunity to throw ourselves on the mercy of the King. If we search with all our hearts we will find Him.” – from Parshat  Vayelech – by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair  (a Torah scholar and photographer)

Our Podcast on this topic is here at A Sharp Arrow and a Strong Draught Horse

The Day of Atonement and the bottom line

If you would like the background material for our Podcast on Yom Kippur, it is now available as a PDF here  at

Here’s a great quote to close off Yom Kippur and look forward to another great year.

”The bottom line (for Yom Kippur)?

The spiritual rewards reaped from a spiritual perspective far outweigh the benefits seductively paraded before us in the advertisements that daily bombard us with their false and alluring promises.

That is why we so desperately need Yom Kippur to help us rearrange our priorities. It is a day when we demonstrate that we can master our physical needs. We choose prayer over food. We choose communion with God over making more money. We do not wear our jewelry and our adornments so that no one need envy the possessions of others. We concentrate not on the things we covet that don’t belong to us but on the blessings God has already granted to us that could give us so much joy if we only fully appreciated them.

And that’s why Yom Kippur, with all of its deprivations, helps to teach us the real meaning of happiness and contentment.”  –        from

I pray that you experienced a Yom Kippur where you were able to in some ways ‘afflict your soul’ and gain a greater spiritual perspective. I hope and pray that your ‘spiritual heart’ was given priority over your ‘fleshly heart’ (Yetzer HaTov vs Yetser HaRa), so that you could more fully experience the holiness of this day.

I reflected with both deep thanks and some sense of sadness that last year in 2011 I had spent Yom Kippur at the Kotel, the Western Wall in Jerusalem. What an awesome day of prayer it had been! Today, a year later I was back in Brisbane and missing standing on the Temple Mount. If you have not experienced that blessing of being in Israel and Jersusalem, especially at one of the ‘appointed times’; for one of the Feasts of Adonai, I pray that it may be fulfilled for you ‘next year in Jerusalem’!

Shalom! Paul

Podcast on the Day of Atonement

Pastor Aubrey Burt and I (Paul Herring) have now completed and published our Podcast on Yom Kippur (- click here).

In this session we look at the significance of this very special Festival of God, and why, and how, followers of Yeshua might consider embracing it.

Some articles referred to such as ‘Col 2:16 and the Sabbath’ and ‘Yeshua THE High Priest’ are at

Other relevant links are:

Some Scriptures mentioned regarding finding atonement are:

Leviticus 4:1-35, Deuteronomy 4:26-31; I Kings 8:46-50; Isaiah 55:6-9; Jeremiah 7:3-23; Ezekiel 18:1-23; Hosea 6:6; 14:2-3; Micah 6:6; Psalm 40:7-9; 51:16-19; Proverbs 10:2; 11:4; 16:6; II Chronicles 6:36-39


Moses and the King who Hides

Having briefly touched on this week’s Torah Portion and how I suspect that Moses would have been heartbroken, I also want to raise an interesting issue around the concept of the Almighty, the King of the Universe ‘hiding’ himself.

Moshe Kempinski in his Torah Portion Podcast points out that the Hebrew in Duet 31:17 literally reads ‘I will hide that I will hide’, where we read in English: “and I will abandon them and hide my face from them.”

Apparently, the Jewish sages understand this to mean that God will hide or turn His face away even when people don’t know that He has!

That is, they may think they are walking in Truth, and with God, when they are NOT!

What a profound and challenging thought!

In a related story that Moshe Kempinski shared in his Torah Podcast, he relates the story of the Rabbi grandson of the great mystical Rabbi Baal Shem Tov. He is sitting outside studying Torah when one of his grandchildren comes crying to him. His grandchild has been playing hide and seek and found the perfect hiding place. The only problem was no-one found him! After the child had been soothed and went off to play, the Rabbi pondered on this. When his wife came out to the verandah where he was sitting, the Rabbi was crying. She asked why. He said, God hides so well, that few try hard enough to find Him!

God WANTS us to find him! We WILL find him when we seek Him with all our heart, mind and soul!”

I had written a blog post (at some 18 months ago on this concept of ‘The King Who Hides’. It is reposted below:

The King who hides:

I recently heard a good analogy.

A young King saw a beautiful but poor peasant girl and was taken by her grace, her beauty and her joy. He desired to get to know her better and perhaps win her heart. He did not want to command her obedience or to intimidate her, but wanted her to love him for himself.

Yet if he faced her in all his finery and authority and with all his royal assembly and displayed the great breadth and majesty of his Kingdom, he would have little hope of getting to know her on level terms, of getting to develop a mutual and balanced relationship.

He must therefore disguise himself. Not in any dishonest or devious manner, but simply to find a way to let her see the man behind the Kingdom, in the hope that she might connect with his true self, his values, his character and natural beauty.

This is perhaps an analogy for how God interacts with us.

He hides Himself to some degree, He sets a distance between himself and us. Without such disguise, such ‘hiding’, we would be overwhelmed, and our relationship with the Almighty could not develop with the simplicity and normalcy that successful courtship requires.

The Almighty has ‘hidden’ Himself from us to such a degree that he calls on us to seek him and that only by seeking him with all our hearts, minds, strength and soul will we find him.

Consider Proverbs 2:1-5

1. My son, if you will receive my words, and store up my commandments within you;

2 So as to turn your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding;

3 Yes, if you call out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding;

4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures:

5 then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, and find the knowledge of God.

We can see here that the Almighty calls us to receive his words and by meditating of his words and commandments we will be obedient to them. We see here that we need to seek with great diligence as God’s treasures are hidden.

Luke 11:9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Also Jeremiah 29:13

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.

This verse in itself is extremely powerful and I believe sums up the truth that, while God may be hidden, He can be found and we can enter into a relationship with the Creator and King of the Universe. Our King calls for our whole heart.

Are you listening? Are you willing to search for Him and His hidden treasures?

To give a little more of the context of Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart”, we see Jeremiah prophesying about the return from exile in Babylon:

Jeremiah 29:

10 “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

13 You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,

14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

The context then was that the Almighty himself would lead some of the Jewish people to turn back to Him and He would hear them.

The last king of Babylon was Belshazzar. Belshazzar was aware of what the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied at the time when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel:

“And this whole land [of Israel] shall be a ruin, and a waste, and these nations [the tribes of Israel] shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when the seventy years are fulfilled, that I will punish the king of Babylon …” (Jeremiah 25:1112)

Naturally, this is something Belshazzar was worried about and so he kept count. Unfortunately for him he miscalculated by one year. The year 371 BCE arrived, and Belshazzar assuming that the prophecy had not come true, decided that God must have abandoned His people, the Jews and that he will not therefore restore them to Israel as promised in the Jeremiah prophecy. He also, therefore thinks he won’t be punished.

So to celebrate, Belshazzar throws a huge feast and brings out for all to see the Temple vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from Jerusalem. He orders his consorts and concubines to drink from Temple cups and to praise “the gods of gold and silver, copper, iron, wood and stone.” (Daniel 5:1-5)

At that moment, a large unattached hand appears and starts to write on the wall  – ‘The writing is on the wall’!

You probably know the rest of the story.

What you may not realize though, is that when given the opportunity to return to Israel, most reject the dream. There were estimated to be around a million Jews living in the Babylonian empire, yet only 42,000 go back ― only about 5% of those that went into exile 70 years earlier go back and the remaining 95% stays put.

The same thing happened in 1948 when the state of Israel was declared. There were about 12 million Jews in the world at that time and only 600,000 or 5% settled the land. The rest, some 95% preferred to stay in exile. This story is, of course, far from complete.

The recent and even more miraculous return (see my article ‘Israel: Return in Belief or Unbelief’ – at ), is a more complete, but still on-going, fulfillment of all of Jeremiah’s ‘return’ prophecies.

So now think of the implications! In seeing the fulfillment of these prophecies, can we now identify, who has sought God with all their heart, and who has found, or at least is finding Him?

Super-Heroes: Heartbreak for Moses!

In this weeks Torah Portion (Vayelech – Deut 31:1-30), we read about Moses last day and how the Almighty tells Moses that he is about to die, after the last 40 years leading the Nation of Israel in the desert.

God calls both Moses and Joshua into the Tent of Meeting (where His presence was most revealed; most real and ‘physical’ or felt). Along with ‘passing the baton’ to Joshua and encouraging Joshua as the new leader of His People, God informs Moses that the people will fail God (for a time) and God will hide His face from them!

Here is what He shared:

Deut 31:

“15 ADONAI appeared in the tent in a column of cloud; the column of cloud stood above the entrance to the tent.

16 ADONAI said to Moshe,

“You are about to sleep with your ancestors. But this people will get up and offer themselves as prostitutes to the foreign gods of the land where they are going. When they are with those gods, they will abandon me and break my covenant which I have made with them.

17 Then my anger will flare up, and I will abandon them and hide my face from them. They will be devoured, and many calamities and troubles will come upon them. Then they will ask, ‘Haven’t these calamities come upon us because our God isn’t here with us?’

18 But I will be hiding my face from them because of all the evil they will have done in turning to other gods.

19 “Therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the people of Isra’el. Have them learn it by heart, so that this song can be a witness for me against the people of Isra’el.

20 For when I have brought them into the land I swore to their ancestors, flowing with milk and honey; and they have eaten their fill, grown fat and turned to other gods, serving them and despising me, and broken my covenant;

21 then, after many calamities and troubles have come upon them, this song will testify before them as a witness, because their descendants will still be reciting it and will not have forgotten it. For I know how they think even now, even before I have brought them into the land about which I swore.”

The song that Moses writes for the people ends in hope (see Deuteronomy 32), with

“43 Sing out, you nations, about his people! For he will avenge the blood of his servants. He will render vengeance to his adversaries and make atonement for the land of his people.”

The Tanakh of course, shares in many places that despite all their wrongs and their turning away, HaShem will bring His People back into the Land of Israel, for His Name’s sake! See my article ‘Israel: Return in Belief or Unbelief’ (at for some of the evidence for this.

What I wanted to touch on though was Moses heartache!

Imagine, he has led the Jewish people out of Egypt; they have seen many miracles on a daily basis; they, this 2 million people, have ‘seen’ the Almighty in a way that no-one else has, and yet, after his forty years of leading them, Moses is told that they will turn their back on the Almighty!

And Moses can’t do anything about it; he is about to die; to ‘sleep’ with his ancestors!

How heart-broken must he have been; how despairing! He had been like a father to his brethren; he had devoted everything to them; he had rejected a royal life for them; he had sacrificed much and here he is being told in a sense that he has failed! Yes, he knew that at the great Day of Judgment; the People of Israel would be restored and all the prophecies to Abraham fulfilled, but what comfort now; in this his final moments.

Moses was a super-hero! And yet, in a sense HaShem tells him he has failed! Was it worth it?

Do you feel for Moses; do you empathize with him; when you have given your all and it appears you have failed? Evil still abounds! Man still hates his brother! What can we do?!

Let us turn to the Almighty, the King of the Universe and acknowledge we need Him; we need His strength; His comfort; His mercy and justice! His Messiah! His great Day; the Day of Judgment; the Day of Atonement; the Day of cleansing!

Super Heroes: It’s not about special powers

What is it that makes for super-heroes? What attributes do they need? What special skills like x-ray vision or special human strength do they need?

Perhaps the truth is that they need none of these; that is a more about their character and their sense of their place in the scheme of things?

Consider Moses.

What a super-hero he was! Yet, he had no super-powers, he couldn’t even speak well! He had just spent 40 years farming in the desert before he began his great mission.

But think back to the event that changed his life. He was a prince; he lived in the most absolute luxury of his day as a Prince in the household of the Pharaoh. But he saw an injustice and decided it was his responsibility to intervene!

Moses took responsibility; Moses became, in a sense, in that instance, a leader, one of the greatest leaders of all time! Taking responsibility is the Jewish definition of leadership.

Taking responsibility is seeing that the world  was in some sense made just for you – for you to have an impact to change it for the better – when you recognize this and repent of your failure to actualize your responsibility, then you too are on the path to becoming a great leader and super-hero!

Every Yom Kippur (through the great 10 Days of Awe) you again have a chance to reflect and to turn back to HaShem and to take responsibility for YOUR world, to repair or improve it – this is Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

Become a super-hero today; take hold of the awesome and unique responsibility that the Almighty has given you to change the world, your world, for the better.

It is a sin to fail to use your God-given gifts for the betterment of your world. You are ‘missing the mark’ when you are NOT being the super-hero you were designed to be!

I hope you can come back early next week and catch our upcoming Podcast on Yom Kippur and being a super-hero; a man or woman with a future in the world to come!

Our podcasts are at

From Awe to Atonement

From Unity (through Yom Teruah) comes strength of mind;

from Strength, peace of mind;

from Peace, deep introspection,

from Introspection comes recognition of wrongs committed;

from  Recognition comes repentance (turning back to HaShem).

Repentance seeks forgiveness and,

Forgiveness brings Atonement and,

stays Judgement (Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement)!

You have 10 Days – choose Life!

“We shall ascribe holiness to this day. For it is awesome and terrible.

Your kingship is exalted upon it. Your throne is established in mercy.

You are enthroned upon it in truth. In truth You are the judge,

The exhorter, the allknowing, the witness, He who inscribes and seals,

Remembering all that is forgotten. You open the book of remembrance

Which proclaims itself, And the seal of each person is there.

The great shofar is sounded, A still small voice is heard.

The angels are dismayed, They are seized by fear and trembling

As they proclaim: Behold the Day of Judgment!

For all the hosts of heaven are brought for judgment.

They shall not be guiltless in Your eyes

And all creatures shall parade before You as a troop.

As a shepherd herds his flock, Causing his sheep to pass beneath his staff,

So do You cause to pass, count, and record, Visiting the souls of all living,

Decreeing the length of their days, Inscribing their judgment…”

  • From the great  Unetanah Tokef prayer

King David wrote:

1. O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than God
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,

7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,

8  the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9  O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8)

In these Days of Awe, we should reflect not only on the awesome majesty of the Creator and King of the Universe, but also on the amazing role that he gave to us, to human beings made in His image. He is a personal God; He is always in our Presence; He is always communicating with us!

In fact, as we learn from Ps 19, He is speaking to us through His Creation every day and night!

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,  and night to night reveals knowledge.

Ps 19 also tells us that:

8  The Torah of Adonai is perfect, 
restoring the inner person.
The instruction of Adonai is sure,
making wise the thoughtless.

9  The precepts of Adonai are right, 
rejoicing the heart.
The mitzvah of Adonai is pure,
enlightening the eyes.

10 The fear of Adonai is clean,
enduring forever.
The rulings of Adonai are true,
they are righteous altogether,

11  more desirable than gold,
than much fine gold,
also sweeter than honey
or drippings from the honeycomb. …

15  May the words of my mouth 
and the thoughts of my heart
be acceptable in your presence,
Adonai, my Rock and Redeemer!

Let us seek the Almighty in these days leading to the great Day of Judgment and Atonement. May we fully turn back to our King and may we be given life so that we can also enter in the Appointed Time of Sukkot, the Marriage Supper of Heaven!

Aubrey and I will be speaking on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in our next Podcast. If you haven’t listened to Parts 1 and 2 on Yom Teruah (the Day of Trumpets), you can hear it here.

Shout in Unity – the Day of Shouting

Yom Teruah/Rosh Hashanah has already drawn to a close for some of us (it’s after sunset on Tuesday 18th Sept. 2012 here).

If you enjoyed the Podcasts at ‘A Sharp Arrow & a Strong Draught Horse‘ and would like some supporting documentation, our background doc is now online  – Click here: 10 Questions on Yom Teruah

The Day of Shouting (also called the Day or Feast of Trumpets; Yom Teruah or Rosh HaShanah) is a great day;  an amazing and intriguing Day of Celebration instituted by the Almighty.

Why? What is it’s significance? Why is the theme of Unity so foundational to this time? Listen to the 2 Part Podcasts or read the article – if you have more questions please be in touch.