Time to Answer the Call

Time to Answer the Call

Vayera (Genesis 18-22):

In this Torah Portion we read of Abraham pleading with Yehovah to spare the wicked city of Sodom.

Rabbi Sacks in an excellent article on this Torah Portion suggests that the key theme of history up until Abraham is a “failure of responsibility”.

He writes: “… Adam and Eve lack personal responsibility. Adam says, “It wasn’t me; it was the woman.” Eve says, “It wasn’t me, it was the serpent.” It is as if they deny being the authors of their own stories – as if they do not understand either freedom or the responsibility it entails.

Cain does not deny personal responsibility. He does not say, “It wasn’t me. It was Abel’s fault for provoking me.” Instead he denies moral responsibility: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Noah fails the test of collective responsibility. He is a man of virtue in an age of vice, but he makes no impact on his contemporaries. He saves his family (and the animals) but no one else. According to the plain reading of the text, he does not even try.”

Abraham on the other hand passes all these tests of his character. He displays personal responsibility, moral responsibility, and collective responsibility in relation to Sodom.

This lesson is so much for our time right now, this week and most especially if you live in the USA.

It’s one thing to take personal responsibility and even be morally responsible in how you live, but collective responsibility means being prepared to stand up against the crowd, against fear and intimidation and stand for the principles of Torah, for truth, for honesty and integrity and for justice.

Some years ago I wrote an article ‘Why is the Church Silent?’ which discussed the rights and wrongs of ‘rescuing’ (standing up for the unborn).

See http://circumcisedheart.info/Christian%20site/Where%20is%20the%20outcry%20-%20CETF%20Version%20Apr%2007.pdf

While this issue is still in my opinion more important than almost every other issue and seemingly much more important than who wins an election in a foreign country (speaking as an Australian), but there is a very strong sense that this is a watershed moment in history, not just the history of the USA, but world history, redemptive history.

There is no doubt that the current election counting for the President of the USA has been seriously corrupted  in at least 7 distinct ways by the Democrats and those in bed with them, and it seems likely that a Socialist Dictatorship is about to be inaugurated in the USA which will then become a puppet of the Communist Party of China.

As pointed out by a dear friend and kindred spirit from Texas, while the election decision this year will most likely involve the Courts and go all the way to the Supreme Court of the USA, it is not likely to change the fraudulent outcome, as he argues that the Courts really don’t wish to be caught up in political fights.

But before we turn off and lie down in submission to the will of the criminals behind this massive fraud, now seems the time to head the call to engage, to demonstrate as Abraham did, collective responsibility.

This can be done through prayer and protest, through social media activism, through supporting those on the frontlines in anyway you can.

But how many will heed the call. Sadly, it has been my experience as someone who has stood up and stood in front of the ‘murder mills’, that most find this a bridge too far.

Why? Because it costs. It costs in a way that taking personal responsibility rarely does. It can cost you your livelihood, your friends, even some in your family.

Whether or not it is Yehovah’s will that the country that is the leader of the free-world descends into a Socialist nightmare or not, it is very clear that all lovers of righteousness and Torah are called to be counted.

Rabbi Sacks also quotes the very powerful works of the poet John Donne, which have always been amongst my favourite call to arms:

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself …
Any man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, never send to know for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for thee’.

May all lover of Truth, of Torah, of Yeshua and Yehovah, answer the call and stand up and be counted at this momentus time.

Link to Rabbi Sacks article ‘Answering the Call’:     

https://www.aish.com/tp/i/sacks/Answering-the-Call.html

PS: Only a few hours after writing this I heard that Rabbi Sacks has passed away. (1948 -2020). May his memory be a blessing! Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet.

Delight Yourself In The LORD

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

The current Torah Portion (Nitzavim-Vayelech) speaks to a number of vital foundational elements of our faith in Yehovah. In this short post I wish to address two of them.

First the practicality of Torah:  

Deut 30:10–‐ 14
10 “However, all this will happen only if you pay attention to what Yehovah your God says, so that you obey his commandments and regulations which are written in this book of the Torah, if you turn to Yehovah your God with all your heart and all your being.
11 For this commandment which I am giving you today is not too hard for you, it is not beyond your reach.
12 It isn’t in the sky, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will go up into the sky for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’
13 Likewise, it isn’t beyond the sea, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’
14 On the contrary, the word is very close to you –‐ in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it!


And I repeat! “… you can do it!”, you CAN obey the ‘Instructions of Yehovah’, that is the Torah!

But wait a minute; didn’t Jesus/Yeshua die on the cross because it was all too hard for us and we can only find peace and joy with God through his blood sacrifice?

Doesn’t Christianity teach us that it is all too hard for us; that we are hopeless sinners and can only find eternal life with God through the ‘entry fee’ paid by God Himself on the cross; that we have no hope otherwise; no hope because we can’t be righteous and obedient; that God’s commands are too hard for us!!?

There is something seriously amiss here – please see my article for more on this massive and foundational issue.

But there is more! He has given us the freedom of choice:

“I have set before you life and goodness, and death and evil: in that I command you this day to love G‑d, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments . . . Life and death I have set before you, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life.”

Clearly, neither the Jewish People nor any of the Gentile people need to heed the call to obey the Life giving Instructions of the Creator (Torah), though here He is pleading with the Jewish People to do exactly that.

But when we do!!

I have always loved Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Surely the Psalmist not only experienced this truth but sourced this truth from this Torah Portion, as we read in verses Deut 30:9-10:
9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, … For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 
10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Torah, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.


You will also note here that when your delight in in the Lord, His is in you as well!

And further, as we also read in this Torah Portion last week, when we don’t delight ourselves in Yehovah and turn back to Him with all our heart and soul we risk Him hiding from us and worse hiding that he is hiding!

There are always consequences to our actions. There are always choices and we, at least in this life, are never free from having to make those choices, weekly, daily, moment by moment.

Inaction is a choice, silence in the face of evil is a choice, remaining ignorant to His Truth is a choice, but delighting in Him and His Ways (Psalm 119) is the best choice!

PS: The King Who Hides:

I have written on more than one occasion about the incredible text where Yehovah states that ‘I will hide that I will hide‘ (Deut 31:17).

And I have also written on atonement and that  sin (missing the mark or rejecting the Instructions of God, i.e. Torah) does not keep God away from man, but that it  keeps man away from God, and how the Almighty gives us the method to cover the sins from ourselves (Atonement), so we don’t need to try to hide from Him.

So what if we are trying to hide from God and He is hiding from us and even more, hiding the fact that he is hiding from us! What hope have we?!

Is there any hope if we are so far from Yehovah and so unconcerned with such a reality. Heaven forbid that any of us could be in such a place, a place where it seems most likely that you would reject God to the point of rejecting His very existence – you can’t see Him, and He has in fact hidden Himself so well that you perhaps have no evidence  that He is or was there.

Yet, if you seek Him and if you seek Him with all your might and power He will be found by you! But what would ever prompt a person who has fallen so far to try again?

I don’t know, but I do know He is bigger and stronger than anyone’s disbelief, rejection, anger, bitterness, pain and/or pride.

He is in their every breath, there beside them in their every moment whether of joy or pain. He is always just a thought away.

But His grace is not cheap. There  is a price to pay. His hiddenness can only be ended by our repentance, our ‘teshuvah’, our turning back with our whole heart, so that we can once again ‘delight ourselves in the Lord!’.



Love IS Not Enough

More on this weeks Torah Portion, Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness …” – Martin Luther King

It would appear that love is the highest of emotions, yet is it enough and should it be first in our priorities?

In the Torah; in the Shema, we are commanded to love God with all our heart(s), with all our soul and with all our might.

And there is no question that love brings joy, but is it enough as it can also bring tears?

One of America’s greatest and most well-known marriage counsellors, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach says that love is not enough when it comes to marriage, but that lust needs to be cultivated between a couple and especially cultivated by the husband. His book on marriage,  Kosher Lust: Love is not the Answer’ is in my opinion the best ever written on the subject.

He writes: “When men lust for their wives, and act on this lust in the proper way, almost any marriage can be made whole.”

So in marriage love is not enough, but this is even more widely true.

Love in bringing some closer can at the same time make others more distance and even make others feel rejected, which may be why that, in this week’s Torah Portion we are given the lesson that when love is likely to be the cause of conflict, it must take second place to justice.

To quote Rabbi Sacks on this:

“Love is partial, justice is impartial.

Love is for someone specific; justice is for everyone.

Love brings personal satisfaction; justice brings social order…

When it comes to the relationship between humans, there is an order of priority. First create justice, then express love. For if we let those priorities be reversed, allowing injustice in the name of love, we will divide and destroy families and groups and suffer the consequences for a long time…. 

without justice, love will not save us. It may even destroy us.

It seems we are in a world increasingly descending into hate, into fear and isolation and totalitarianism. We can try to heed Martin Luther King and shine light and love into our world, but perhaps first we need to seek justice.

How?

Perhaps we should start by shining light and love and truth on the greatest injustice that exists in our world today.

And then after exposing this injustice with light and love and truth, we can then try to bring justice to bear. And maybe with some success, and some justice we might see a love grow that might truly expose other injustices and bring much light and truth to bear.

And what is this ‘the greatest injustice’?

Abortion. The murder of the most vulnerable and innocent of humanity, the unborn child.

The numbers defy belief at 50 million+ pa worldwide! Nothing else comes close, yet perhaps all other injustices feed on this, the greatest injustice.

If we can’t see injustice here, how can we hope to see it elsewhere?

Yet, here’s the rub. I have been involved in the pro-life movement for some 35 years and while I have seen individual lives saved, I deeply despair that we are capable of rectifying this the greatest injustice.

I see only One Hope and One Man, the Messiah Yeshua ben Yosef.

We need him now, we need his return as Messiah ben David; in the full power and authority of the One God Yehovah to bring restoration, redemption and rectification to this world.

I don’t believe there is any other option or hope for this world as it sinks further into ignorance that breeds hate and division.

We should never give up as we are called to do ‘tikkun haOlam’ (Repair the World), and if we know the One True God of Israel and His Truth we would want to be found faithful, yet I don’t think we can do it without divine intervention.   

Acts 17:31 “… because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Revelation 19:11: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and wages war.”

So this Shabbat and every day I pray, Come Lord Yeshua, come!

For more on ‘tikkun haOlam’ please see my article Amazing Grace on   ‘building the world with grace’ (Psalms 89:2). – http://circumcisedheart.info/Amazing%20Grace.pdf

Humility and taking up space:

A common definition of humility is ‘The state or character of being humble; freedom from pride and arrogance.’, but this is incomplete as I will endeavour to highlight. It is also vital not to associate the word humiliation with humility as they really have no correlation.

Firstly though, as a human trait that rejects arrogance, humility is a vital foundation. Typically arrogance is seen in people who want power and control over others. But it can also be seen in people whose arrogance in their own superiority means that their opinion of others is so low that they want nothing to do with them.

Therefore, the failure to see the uniqueness and value of other people is in a sense a form of arrogance.

And the opposite of arrogance is humility. At its most basic foundations humility is an appreciative and thankful attitude that results in the awareness that everything we have is a gift, and that other people are equally important.

In this week’s Torah Portion, the Torah is speaking about a king and it specifies three temptations to which a king in ancient times was exposed. A king, it says, should not accumulate many horses or wives or wealth – the three traps into which, centuries later, King Solomon eventually fell.

Then it adds:
“When [the king] is established on his royal throne, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this Torah … It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to be in awe of the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not feel superior to his brethren or turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time in the midst of Israel.” (Deut. 17:18-20)

If a king, whose subjects are bound to honour, is commanded to be humble – “not feel superior to his brethren” – how much more so the rest of us. Moses, one of the greatest leaders of all time, was “very humble, more so than anyone on the face of the earth” (Num. 12: 3). Was it that he was great because he was humble, or humble because he was great?

Alan Morinis, the author of Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar’  has some great wisdom to share on this topic. Here are a few of his thoughts on humility:

“Being humble doesn’t mean being nobody, it just means being no more of a somebody than you ought to be.

Humility is associated with spiritual perfection. When humility effects depression it is defective; when it is genuine it inspires joy, courage and inner dignity.

Mussar (Jewish ethics – see an introduction here ) teaches that real humility is always associated with healthy self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem leads to unholy and false feelings of worthlessness.

Being humble doesn’t mean being nobody, it just means being no more of a somebody than you ought to be.

If a leader as great as Moses was so humble then there is surely more to humility than the shrinking meekness we ordinarily associate with the term.

Too little humility — what we’d call arrogance or conceit — is easily seen as a spiritual impediment, but the opposite is also true. Too much humility also throws a veil across the inner light of the soul.

Humility is limiting oneself to an appropriate amount of space while leaving room for others….

This definition also fits Maimonides’ concept that humility is not the opposite of conceit, which would be self-effacement, but rather stands between conceit and self-effacement. Humility is not an extreme quality, but a balanced, moderate, accurate understanding of yourself that you act on in your life. That’s why humility and self-esteem go hand-in-hand.

When you understand humility in terms of the space you occupy, it’s important to clarify that we are not all meant to occupy the same amount of space. Some people appropriately occupy a lot of space, as would be the case with a leader — think of Moses again. But if a leader laid claim to even more space than was appropriate, they would be a Pharaoh …

Humility is the first soul-trait to work on because it entails an unvarnished and honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.

… Without humility, either you will be so puffed up with arrogance that you won’t even see what is really needing some work, or you will be so deflated and lacking in self-esteem that you will despair of being able to make the changes that are lit up so glaringly in your self-critical mind.” – from https://www.aish.com/sp/pg/48906552.html

I find it insightful to consider not just that arrogance is a rejection of humility, but that not ‘taking up less of the space you should be occupying’ also displays a lack of humility. I can understand why, but it then poses the question, how do you know that you have failing to ‘occupy the space’ you should be. It would seem much easier to recognize when you are arrogant and ‘feel superior’ to others, but not so easy to see when you are not being all that you can and should be.

I have often felt that I have not exercised the gifts that God has given me to the full extent possible and made the impact that I could and should have made on His behalf, and yet to even think such a thing might simply be an example of an arrogance of thought, in imagining myself more capable than I am and having more wisdom to share than is the reality.

So clearly, some introspection is always called for, but seeking to do ‘tikkum haolam’ (to help to repair the world),  should never be seen as a failure or as arrogance, at least when the success of such endeavours is left to be judged by the Almighty. That is, perhaps I have occupied my ‘space’ to a fair and reasonable extent, but my error has been in not being able to see the full picture as I was not meant to – seeing the full picture of the contribution is a vision only given the God Himself.

Regardless of where you currently stand on your life’s journey, I think it a valuable exercise to try to be introspective occasionally and reflect on your ‘space’ and place, on your own sense of humility.

And perhaps there are some very trustworthy people in your life who can help you to assess the this soul-trait in you and whether it is in need of some correction, one way or the other.

You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy:

Joy is more than happiness, joy is a living, breathing dancing and singing thing! And joy is to be shared, to be embraced with others.

Yet joy is often rejected – to seek it we need only to open the Book of Psalms and to deeply breath the words of King David:

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning …
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Yehovah my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:6-13)

 A life lived well is a happy life, but joy is not in life; in long life; it is in the moment. To be joyful you need to live in the moment and when we do and we experience such joy it should make us want to dance and sing!

King David danced; King David’s words sing, they sing of joy, a joy that comes from deep within, from knowing Yehovah and His great love.

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!

Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Light is sownfor the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
(Psalm 97:1, 8-12)


Look past the calamity and confusion of this time for a moment; look at the beauty of this world and all her people. Consider every breath as a breathing in of the spirit of God, as it is the Almighty who creates all including the air we breath and it is His love that moves the sun and stars and this earth’s rotation that provides the atmosphere that fills our lungs with life-sustaining oxygen.

You and I are here because Someone wanted us here – yes, your parents may well have wanted you as well, but the Creator wanted YOU, not just a new baby, a child, an anybody, but the unique, one and only you. He wanted you in this world and He wants you to grow to be all that He created you to be.

So celebrate that! The soul that seeks Truth and sees His Love is a soul that sings.

One of the important aspects of last weeks Torah Portion was gratitude. Having gratitude leads to being thankful and a thankful heart is one that can be quick to embrace joy when it presents itself in that short moment of time.

And in this weeks Torah Portion, the Israelites are commanded to be joyful: And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, …”(Deut 12:12)

It is amazing to think that the Almighty wishes you to find joy. Not just a good and safe or healthy life but a life of joy. In fact, the very failure to be joyful in living a life of righteousness and being grateful and joyful thanks to His Providence and abundance actually brings a curse “… Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness out of the abundance of all things” (Deut 28:47).

A failure to be righteous and to rejoice brings a curse and leads to decadence and decay. 

Seek joy. Open Psalms and read and sing.

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!


Atonement: Covering Our Sins From Ourselves?

I was recently asked what “… type of sacrifice that Yeshua, as our great High Priest, made?”.

Before I share I little in response to this, I should indicate that I reject most of the standard Christian theories around Yeshua’s death on the cross and what it represents. For example, I see Penal Substitutionary Atonement (developed during the Reformation) as totally in error, but I tend to find much to like with regard the Moral Influence Theory (see footnote), as well as supporting a degree of Vicarious Atonement (see link at the end of this blog post to an in-depth discussion of this understanding from Bruce Barham of Torah of Messiah).

But in trying to understand what is involved in Yeshua’s role as the High Priest in the Coming Age, I think that we should appreciate that he performs that same functions as the High Priest of Israel has in the past.

So, if we look back at the foundational passages on the High Priest’s role in atonement we find:

Lev 4:20 “ … And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.”

Aaron, as the first High Priest:
Ex 28: 29 “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD.

30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.

Lev 16:29-34  (speaking about Yom Kipppur, the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest would enter the Most Holy of Holies in the Temple):
“29 And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you.

30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins.

31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever.

32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments.

33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.

34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him.

Ex 30:10 “Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.”  – again, this is only possible in the Temple, and therefore, only when the Temple is standing.

These are just a few of the ‘atonement’ passages. The High Priest makes atonement for the people, but this is not the only way and means of people finding atonement. It is part of the process, but not all of it.

But what is atonement?

The word ‘atonement’ has more than one meaning in Judaism.  In the context here it appears to mean either the protection of a thing from external impact or the prevention of it making an impact, or both. That is, the underlying meaning is to cover something, so as to protect it, or allow it to be overlooked. For example, when Abimelech gives to Abraham a thousand pieces of silver as a “covering of the eyes” (the same Hebrew root word is used here as for atonement in the passages quoted above), the effect here is in order that his wrongdoing may be over-looked (Gen. 20: 16).

But we also need to be very much aware that every person who wishes to be part of the Coming Age, must also seek atonement through repentance and forgiveness, etc.

This is of course declared in many places in the Tanakh such as in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 18:  19 “Yet you say, Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father? When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live.

20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

22 None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live.

… 27 Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life.

28 Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

… 30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.

31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?

32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

So it may seem we have a conflict here.

We have a High Priest somehow providing this ‘covering’ and protection for us (are our sins really being overlooked by the Almighty?), and yet at the same time the Tanakh seems to clearly state that everyone is responsible for his own sins (and thus there is a sense in which no one else can ‘pay the price’ for us).

And here’s some further food for though on what does the Oral Torah says about it:

“The death of the righteous atones [for the generation]” (Moed Katan 28a). ▫ “Rabbi Hiya Bar Abba said: The sons of Aaron died the first day of Nisan. Why then does the Torah mention their death in conjunction with the Day of Atonement? It is to teach that just as Yom Kippur atones, so also the death of the righteous atones” (Vayikra Rabbah 20:12). ▫ Following the previous statement: “Death and Yom Kippur atone when accompanied by penitence” (Yoma 85b [Mishna]). 

“Why is the death of Miriam juxtaposed to the laws of the Red Heifer? This teaches that just as the Red Heifer brings atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement” (Moed Katan 28a).

The Rabbis say: “[Messiah’s] name is ‘the leper’, as it is written: Surely he has borne our grieves, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him leper, smitten of God, and afflicted…  Those of the house of the Rabbi say: ‘the sickly’, for it says: Surely he has borne our sicknesses” (Sanh 98b). 

Also the Midrash says: “I will take one of their righteous men and retain him as a pledge on their behalf, in order that I may pardon all their sins” (Shemot Rabbah 35:4).  

I think though that Rabbi Moshe Avraham Kempinksi has a great perspective where he also alludes to the idea of a ‘covering’:

“… Yet we must still ponder the fact that we have been directed by our prophets to understand that repentance begins with our actions.        

Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, said HaShem of hosts.” (Malachi 3:7)   

Then again, we hear the words of the prophet Zechariah:      

“Therefore say you unto them, Thus said HaShem of hosts: Return unto Me, said HaShem of hosts, and I will return unto you, said HaShem of hosts.” (Zechariah 1:3)   

HaShem waits for our initial returning to Him with a contrite heart.  

It is important to note that our sages discussed the power of Yom Kippur to atone (Lechaper) for sins and they did not  determine that the day has the power “to cleanse” (LeTaher).   The Malbim in sefer HaCarmel describes the word Lechaper – to atone as having several possible meanings. It can mean “to cover”, to ”redeem” or to “superficially wash”.

Yet all those three actions do not truly remove the sin. They simply cover or beautify it. The sin and its potential impact continues to exist in the world. The sin still needs to be made pure or to be deeply cleansed. So one might ask why we bother with a Kaparah that simply covers, if in fact we have not eliminated the essence of the sin itself?  

To understand this one must truly ask another question “Who are we covering the sin from?”.

The instinctive answer is that we are attempting to hide or cover our sins from G-d. That cannot be true as King David declares in psalms: “For He knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalms 44:22)   And in the book of Job we read: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose can be withholden from You.” (Job 42:2)  

 Yet sin has a powerful impact on our souls and our will power. Sin does not keep G-d away from man, sin keeps man away from G-d.

We feel so unworthy and so dirty that we cannot even look upon His face Ezekiel declares: “Therefore, O you son of man, say unto the house of Israel: Thusly you speak, saying: Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them; how then can we live?” (Ezekiel 33:10)  

So G-d gives us the method to cover the sins from ourselves. The day achieves that “covering”. (itzumo shel yom mechaper). It is only after they have been covered from our sight that we regain the determination to gather our strength and continue into the intense process of tahara, or cleansing.

“And therefore will HaShem wait, so that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have compassion upon you; for HaShem is a God of justice, happy are all they that wait for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)   << end quote>>

So, the argument here is that the Day of Atonement really acts as a way in which we ‘cover’ our sins from our own eyes, so that we may look forward and work harder to avoid ‘missing the mark’ (sin) in the future, and therefore display the true fruits and ‘tikkun haOlam’ that should result from our repentance and forgiveness.

For much greater depth on atonement, please see Vicarious Atonement: Origins and Correct Understanding at https://www.torahofmessiah.org/vicarious-atonement

Footnote: Moral Influence Theory of Atonement

This approach understands that Yeshua’s life and death brought about a massive and positive change to humanity. This moral change comes through the teachings of Yeshua alongside his example and actions.

Within this theory the death of Yeshua is understood as a catalyst to reform society, inspiring men and women to follow his example and live good moral lives of love.

This theory focuses on Yeshua’s entire life, not just his death. The Moral Influence theory emphasizes Yeshua Ha Mashiach as our teacher, our example, and our leader.

What Narrative Is This All A Part of?

The latest Torah Portion commentary from Rabbi Sacks introduces a fascinating re-take on a very familiar biblical story, that points to a very significant perspective on our world today.

I recommend reading it: https://www.aish.com/tp/i/sacks/What-Is-Going-On.html

In it is this quote: “Richard Rumelt: “A great deal of strategy work is trying to figure out what is going on. Not just deciding what to do, but the more fundamental problem of comprehending the situation.”
Narrative plays a major role in making good decisions in an uncertain world. We need to ask: of what story is this a part?”

Consider the world we live in today, with the Corona Virus Plandemic and how the MSM has loved to use this virus to spread fear, dis-information and Statism. Or how they have painted the recent news from the USA of the anarchists, looters, rioters and murderers of innocent business owners and citizens trying to protect their communities and properties as all being justified, peaceful and necessary activists. When we view this, it is hard to know how to react, and even harder to know the full truth if all we have easy access to is the distorted Leftist ‘truth’ of the MSM, Hollywood and Academic (Dinesh D’Sousa’s book  ‘The Big Lie’ should be mandatory reading for anyone wishing to be better informed on how distorted the narrative that we are presented with really is).

Caleb and Joshua were able to see the beauty and potential in the land of ‘milk and honey’. They were able to look past the challenges, avoid the fear the seemed to cloud the judgement of the other 10 ‘princes’ of their tribes, and instead see what Yehovah wanted them to see. They viewed the Land of Israel and the future promised to them with optimism and great anticipation, just as Yehovah intended. We need to do the same!

So how do we look past these filters and see the big picture, and see what real story this is all a part of, a story of redemption and hope, a story of ultimate victory over darkness.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness …” 
– Martin Luther King

To the atheist and agnostic seeingwhat story is this a part’’ of, seeing the big picture is not really possible, because the big picture requires a faith and knowledge of the Creator of the Universe, Yehovah and His plans for us in these days of the final full revelation of His Master Plan.

There are a number of voices that really do appear to have something of a handle on the day to day detail of the Master Plan. People like Rabbi Mendel Kessin (https://tikkunmedardus.ch/donald-trump-and-the-coming-of-messiah/#H55) seem to have a reasonable grasp of some of the finer details.

But ultimately, we need to trust. 

There are a great many reasons why we should trust Yehovah, such that when faced with a confusing and seriously conflicted world we can continue to walk in righteousness and obedience to Him knowing that He really is in ultimate charge and that we will come out the other side of these times of growing evil and delusion and step into His World of great light when the Great Day finally dawns.

See blog posts: Our Ultimate Fate and Faith and Things Not Seen – Hebrews 11:1

But I would also suggest we are called to do more. We are called to stand up and be counted, to speak out against the false narrative that may start with the MSM, Hollywood and Academia, but has now spread to a great many sadly mis-informed everyday people that we live amongst.

We need to share the voice of truth in our own communities: https://globaltruthinternational.com/2017/03/12/raised-for-a-time-such-as-this-the-example-of-hadassah/

Part of sharing Truth, is being ‘truth’, being righteous.

Perhaps you could ask yourself: 
“Will my life be a sanctification of God , or a desecration? Will my life further enhance the good reputation of God, or will my choices today bring dishonour on Him and further denigrate the reputation of good standing of the Almighty in the eyes of the world?”

What does it mean to be God’s Witness?

Loneliness: A Path Towards Intimacy With Yehovah

In this week’s Torah Portion we read of Moses’ despair and loneliness:

He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on Your servant? What have I done to displease You that You put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? … I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how You are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favour in Your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Numbers 11:11-15)

This may have been the lowest point in Moses’ life. After all he had gone through, he felt the people had rejected his leadership and just brought great grief on him.

Yehovah’s response was apparently not one of sympathy, nor did he agree to Moses’ request to kill him. Instead Yehovah tells him to appoint seventy elders who would share the burden of leadership.

It would seem fair to infer from this response that Moses was as least in part feeling very much alone in his role and leadership. He had come to a place where his faith, his deep intimacy with HaShem had lead to great loneliness and while he clearly knew HaShem was with him, it appears he had a serious lack of companionship in his role.

Moses is not the only person in Tanakh who felt so alone that he prayed to die.

So did Elijah when Jezebel issued a warrant for his arrest and death after his confrontation with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19:4).

So did Jeremiah when the people repeatedly failed to heed his warnings (Jer. 20:14-18).

So did Jonah when God forgave the people of Nineveh, seemingly making nonsense of his warning that in forty days the city would be destroyed (Jon. 4:1-3).

All these prophets felt alone and unheard. They carried a heavy burden of solitude. Which should lead us to recognize a similar narrative is reflected in the life of the greatest prophet, Yeshua.

Yeshua was a man and prophet who also spent a lot of time alone and in communion with Yehovah. Yet he also appointed his ‘elders’; his 12 apostles to share the burden with. There is no doubt Yeshua saw much in these 12 men of faith, yet they struggled to see the world as he did; to sense the despair that he did; and grief for his people and planet as he did.

Yeshua wept with great despair over Yerusalem, the apple of God’s eye, the place of the Holy Hill of Zion, and the Temple of Yehovah.

 Luke 19: 
“40 But he answered them, “I tell you that if they keep quiet, the stones will shout!”
41 When Yeshua had come closer and could see the city, he wept over it, 
42 saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for shalom! But for now it is hidden from your sight.”

Yeshua clearly had great insight, even if he was not directly given foresight from Yehovah, he could see what the natural consequence of the current situation was.

Not only did Yeshua spend much of his earthly life before his crucifixion aware of how far humanity, for the most part, was from Yehovah, he knew what it meant to share everything and sacrifice everything for others. He had said before his life was offered and taken, that no greater love hath a man than to lay his life down for a friend.

What love, what faith, what strength! he displayed in willingly walking into Jerusalem and to being ‘poured out as a libation on the Holy Hill’ (Ps 2:6) (http://circumcisedheart.info/Christian%20site/Psalm%202%20verse%206%20commentary.pdf).

King David was clearly another great man of faith who spent much time feeling alone in his leadership as well. The Psalms share much on this:

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.”
(Ps. 6:6)

“How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 13:1-2)

“Out of the depths I cry to You, Lord …” (Ps. 130:1)

Which naturally leads us to this Psalm:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me so far from my cries of anguish?” (Ps. 22:2)

And to Yeshua quoting this in what was most likely his greatest moment of despair: “At three, he uttered a loud cry, “Elohi! Elohi! L’mah sh’vaktani?” (which means, “My God! My God! Why have you deserted me?”)”  Mark 15:34; Matt 27:46. CJB

The loneliness of all these great prophets brought them into an unparalleled closeness to Yehovah.

Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the dome of the sky speaks the work of his hands.  Every day it utters speech, every night it reveals knowledge. Without speech, without a word, without their voices being heard, their line goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world….”

A place of solitude can help us see the truth and the glory of God as described in Psalm 19.

A place of solitude, yes even a place of loneliness, can be a place where there is little to distract us, little to muffle the still small voice of Yehovah reaching out to us with His free gift more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey.

And where there is solitude, and silence, we are able to better listen and hear the words of our God. The very words that created this Universe.

So remember when you feel alone, especially when you feel your world is ignoring the Creator of the Universe, the God of Israel. The God of Mercy, Grace and yes Justice, remember that many great people of faith have walked this road before you and that it may well have helped them to develop a deeper relationship with God.

“Plumbing the depths, they reached the heights. They met God in the silence of the soul and felt themselves embraced. … It is when we feel most alone that we discover that we are not alone, “for You are with me.” –  Rabbi Sacks

“Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me.” – Psalm 23:4

And remember that Yeshua, even in accepting that his closest companions would desert him in his hour of need still acknowledged that God was with him:

“Yeshua answered, “Now you do believe. But a time is coming — indeed it has come already — when you will be scattered, each one looking out for himself; and you will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone; because the Father is with me.” – John 16:31-33 CJB

And the secret to never being separated from the Father?

“…. The Father has not left me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” – John 8:29  NKJV