Learn To Do Good:

This weeks Torah Portion is Devarim and the Haftorah is Isaiah 1:1-27. It contains:

1 This is the vision of Yesha‘yahu ….
15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; no matter how much you pray, I won’t be listening; because your hands are covered with blood.
16 “Wash yourselves clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing evil,
17 learn to do good! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, defend orphans, plead for the widow.
18 “Come now,” says Adonai, “let’s talk this over together. Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; even if they are red as crimson, they will be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel, you will be eaten by the sword”; for the mouth of Adonai has spoken
…. and
27 Zion will be redeemed by justice; and those in her who repent, by righteousness.

Yehovah lists some of the evils of those who have walked away from Torah and doing good. When I see the reference to hands covered with blood‘ and to ‘defend orphans’ my thoughts first go to the killing of many millions of our most innocent every year.

The murder of our unborn.

These innocents are orphans in the sense that their parents and all who should be protecting them have; whether knowingly or not, and whether by force or not, abandoned them.

We also, as a society, have abandoned them.

This is surely our nation and our worlds greatest ‘evil deed’.

“The greatest gift of God, I would think, is the Gift of Life. The greatest sin of humans, it would seem, would be to return that gift, ungratefully and unopened.” – John Powell

Yet, Yehovah always offers help, He is always waiting with open arms for us to turn back and talk with Him. He will ultimately execute justice and redeem the righteous who have repented of their Torah-less lives.

In the Deavrim Torah portion itself we hear from one of the greatest teachers of all time, who is known as ‘Moshe Rabbenu’, meaning “Moses, our teacher”.Moses spends his last days as teacher, sharing again the Torah and instruction on how to live by it.

Here in the Haftorah we also hear the instruction learn to do good’.

But how do we learn best? By gathering around us the best teachers – Moshe, Yeshua, Rav Sha’ul, etc. Those who best teach Torah, the instructions of our God on how best to live.

The Torah properly understood gives us a protective fence around us, within which we can live the most free life, because a righteous life, one lived within and in accordance to Torah will be a live without too many instances of ‘missing the mark’, of moral and ethical mistakes (i.e. sin), and in such a life when we “… spread out (our) hands” He will not hide His eyes from us and when we pray He will listen!

This Haftorah can also offers the great hope of Mashiach as well. As the Rabbis state, “The first words of the haftorah: “Chazon Yeshayahu” tells us that specifically during times of darkness, you can accomplish the vision of the redemption and that we will experience this great revelation with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.”

There Are Rivers We Will Not Cross – Parshah Chukat

This weeks Torah Portion, Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1) starts off with Moses being taught the laws of the Red Heifer, whose ashes purify a person who has been contaminated by contact with a dead body (I mentioned this in passing when speaking on the question of Atonement – see https://globaltruthinternational.com/2020/06/20/atonement-covering-our-sins-from-ourselves/).

And it speaks about the  40 years of journeying through the desert; Miriam dying and here the people thirsting for water. Yehovah tells Moses to speak to a rock and command it to give water. Moses gets angry at the rebellious Israelites and strikes the stone. Water issues forth, but Moses is then told by Yehovah that neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land … + more.”

Like all of Scripture this section raises some powerful thoughts and questions.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as always writes most eloquently that “… we are an unstable mix of reason and passion, reflection and emotion, so that sometimes grief and exhaustion can lead even the greatest to make mistakes, as it did in the case of Moses and Aaron after the death of their sister. Second, we are physical, therefore mortal.

Therefore, for all of us, there are rivers we will not cross, promised lands we will not enter, futures we helped shape but will not live to see. … Hence the life-changing idea of Chukat: we are dust of the earth but there is within us the breath of God. We fail, but we can still achieve greatness. We die, but the best part of us lives on.

… Life lives in the tension between our physical smallness and our spiritual greatness, the brevity of life and the eternity of the faith by which we live. Defeat, despair and a sense of tragedy are always premature. Life is short, but when we lift our eyes to heaven, we walk tall.

In reflecting on this at the end of a week where my youngest turned 21 having been born exactly 2 years after his grandfather and my father-in-law died, and also on the same day Emily, one of my nieces lost her young partner to cancer and he left behind 3 young children.

So, to me as well it has been a time to see tragedy and the brevity of life mixed with joy and celebration as seems so typical in this life.

It also leads me to reflect on the greatest tragedy in my world – the loss of one of my grandchildren – see https://globaltruthinternational.com/2014/03/25/amazing-ada/

And it was also only some 2 years ago that I lost my Dad, the man that shaped my life the most, and whose many talents now seem almost mythical in their greatness.

And reflecting on the joy of children leads me to another blog post I wrote as part of a series on Happiness – https://globaltruthinternational.com/2013/09/27/the-ten-happiness-principles-3/ which brings me full circle and back to the Sabbath!

Shabbat Shalom!

The Hebraic Mindset & the Times of Yeshua


While I have many presentations on the Hebraic Mindset (see for example at circumcisedheart.info), I think this talk I gave (also 10+ years ago), is a good followup on how we can re-evaluate Yeshua though a better understanding of his times; of the context in which he presented Yehovah’s message about the Kingdom of God. The pdf for this talk is here: http://circumcisedheart.info/The%20Times%20of%20Yeshua.pdf