Ki Tavo Week ending September 1, 2018
Torah – Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8

Haftarah – Isaiah 60:1-22

Brit Chadashah – Ephesians 1:3-6; Revelation 21:10-27
Parasha (portion) Ki Tavo (when you go in) is one that paints a beautiful picture for us to understand and live out in our day.
As we continue in the month of Elul, a Holy time of repentance and returning to G-d, I am going to focus on a single point and perhaps be a bit uncharacteristically brief. Moshe (Moses) on behalf of G-d is charging the people with instructions prior to crossing the Jordan river and entering the Promised Land. They are being called to remember all the Mitzvot (Commands). But one particular instruction stands out to me this year above all. We will even take a quick look into verses from the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) that are not actually included in the above readings.
Deuteronomy 27:1-8, “Now Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people, saying: “Keep all the commandments which I command you today. 2 “And it shall be, on the day when you cross over the Jordan to the land which the L-RD your G-d is giving you, that you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. 3 “You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the L-RD your G-d is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the L-RD G-d of your fathers promised you. 4 “Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over the Jordan, [that]
on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today, and you shall whitewash them with lime. 5 “And there you shall build an altar to the L-RD your G-d, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron [tool] on them. 6 “You shall build with whole stones the altar of the L-RD your G-d, and offer burnt offerings on it to the L-RD your G-d. 7 “You shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before the L-RD your G-d. 8 “And you shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law.”
The people are called to be a Holy, set apart people that point to the world encompassing them to the One, True and Living G-d. As such, they are instructed to erect these stones that are covered on the outside with plaster and are to inscribe them with all the Commands of G-d for all the world to see.
I really like what the sages have to say about verse 8 specifically with regards to the phrase, “very plainly.” They say that what this meant was that they were to inscribe the Mitzvot in all 70 languages that were spoken on the Eretz (Earth) at that time. What a picture! These Commands are indeed for all people, the Jewish people were the people that were chosen to bring this way of living to the world.
Remember that the plain text is exactly what it says it is. This was literally the instructions given and carried out by a very real people at a very real point in our history. I want to encourage you to consider the fact that on a deeper level we are all called to erect such stones. What I mean is that we are called to be living stones in G-d’s Kingdom. We ought to have His Word in us to the point that it shows in very real, tangible ways on the outside just like the physical stones we just read about. They should be a testimony to the world around us. Our lives and very presence ought to convict the world of their sin, transgression of Torah all while pointing to the Perfect Remedy offered by Yeshua (Jesus.)
1 Peter 2:1-9, “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the L-rd [is] gracious. 4 Coming to Him [as to] a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by G-d [and] precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to G-d through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, [He is] precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. 9 But you [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
May we all continue to return to HaShem (YHVH) as we move closer to the Fall Feast Days of ADONAI. May we also work to be greater and more effective living stones. Shalom!

Week ending August 18, 2018 by Rabbi Jeff Grillo

Shoftim
Torah – Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 Haftarah – Isaiah 51:12-52:12

Brit Chadashah – John 1:19-27; Acts 3:22-23
This is probably the one parashat (portion) that I quote throughout the year, more than any other. It is simply too important to ignore in the times in which we live. So, to begin I will reiterate the main point I challenge anyone who will listen to pay close attention and make application. Then, I will introduce something new I have not pointed out before.
Shoftim translates as “judges.” We are instructed in the opening words of this study to place judges at the gates. On the pashat, or surface level, of the text they were told to do exactly what it says. We make application by putting into practice the principle that is contained in the instruction. Now that Yeshua (Jesus) has made the once for all time Atonement for our sin and sent the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit), we are the Temple in which His Spirit dwells. We make application by appointing judges, or standing watch over our gates and being very picky about
what we allow in our “gates.” These gates being our eyes and ears, and even our mouth. Our eyes, because we need to be careful what we allow ourselves to look upon. We avoid looking at things that may cause us to lust, covet or otherwise draw us from the all out pursuit of G-d and His Holy Word and Will for our lives.
Our ears, because likewise we need to avoid listening to gossip, coarse joking, music that leads us away from worship of our King and other such snares.
Our mouth, because we should guard against speaking anything that is contrary to the Word of G-d or that may cause harm to anyone else. All these things are especially important in this the beginning of the second week of the month
of Elul, a special time of repentance ahead of Rosh HaShanah, also known as Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets.) As we “clean house” and set ourselves right with His Will and return to Gd, we really need these judges in place to help keep us on the right path. This year I want to look at the Haftarah and Brit Chadashah portion and offer up some focus and encouragement. Especially as we as a Congregation are preparing for our next outreach in a matter of about two weeks.
Isaiah 52:7-11, “How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good [things], Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your G-d reigns!” 8 Your watchmen shall lift up [their] voices, With their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye When the L-RD brings back Zion. 9 Break forth into joy, sing together, You waste places of Jerusalem! For the L-RD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The L-RD has made bare His holy arm In the eyes of
all the nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our G-d. 11 Depart! Depart! Go out from there, Touch no unclean [thing]; Go out from the midst of her, Be clean, You who bear the vessels of the L-RD.”
Also, let’s quickly look at John 1:22-23, “Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I [am] ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the L-RD,” ‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.” Yokhanon (John) was a malech. The word malech is typically translated into English as the word “angel.” A more correct translation is simply “messenger.” While many times a malech was indeed a celestial, Holy being sent from G-d, it is also important to note that human
malechim were also used. I point out these Scriptures and explain the word malech to remind you that whether you are a member of the Rock of Israel Congregation, or you are a person reading this post on the
internet, or in a book format down the road you need to know the L-RD has intended for YOU to be a malech! Blessed is the feet of those who bring good news! The Gospel/Good News is something we all ought to herald to the world around us as often as we possibly can. Our times of corporate evangelism is a wonderful thing; however, it is not intended to be the only time we share the Good News. It is training, encouragement, motivation, instruction to offer up a few of the intentions behind why we do this. Ultimately, it is to train you to be able to
do it effortlessly wherever your daily life takes you. Whoever you are, and wherever you are take advantage of this time during the month of Elul to
get back on track with G-d, but as a new beginning of sorts when it comes to your personal evangelism. Shalom! 

Week ending August 25,2018 by Rabbi Jeff Grillo

Ki-Tetz

Torah – Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 Haftarah – Isaiah 54:1-10

Brit Chadashah – Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 5:1-10
Ki-Tetze, Hebrew for when you go out, is the parasha (study) for this week. There is much to say about this study which contains the most number of Mitzvah (commands) than any other parashat. Out of the 613 Commands of Torah, you will find 74 of them in this portion. Before I get into the meat of this week’s study, I wanted to share a story I read earlier this summer. I want to share it because it is tremendous food for thought and perhaps may shed some light on a very common question many people have. Also, it ties in somewhat with one of the Commands in this parasha. The story goes that one day a student was asking his Rabbi a question. He wanted to know why it was that it seemed to be that wicked men prospered in this life while many righteous men appeared to suffer and struggle. The rabbi explained that the answer was straight forward and simple actually. Because the breath of G-d is in all men that there is at least a little bit of goodness even in a wicked man. Likewise, in a righteous man there is at least a small amount
of wickedness. Therefore, the wicked man prospers in this life in order that the good that is within him receives its just reward here and now, that in the life to come he receives his just, eternal reward. The righteous man suffers now for the small amount of wickedness that is within him so that in the life to come he receives his just reward for his good. Whether or not this is reality, I do not know for certain, but I do know that this makes more
sense than any other explanation I have ever heard offered up for this question.
Let’s look at an excerpt from this week’s Torah portion and see this principle being taught, at least in part.
Deuteronomy 24:12-15, “And if the man [is] poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. 13 “You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the L-RD your G-d. 14 “You shall not oppress a hired servant [who is] poor and needy, [whether] one of your brethren or one of the aliens who [is] in your land within your gates. 15 “Each day you shall give [him] his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he [is] poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the L-RD, and it be sin to you.”
In the above verses, we see a Command concerning day laborers. I recently heard an explanation of the day laborers that went something like this… When we come into this life we are like contractors sent for the purpose of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world.) In general, when we think of contractors and day laborers the following ideas come to mind. Day laborers tend to be people that are focused on the here and now. They work today and expect their reward today. They certainly have skills and abilities that are needed to work towards completion of a project, but again, they are not focused on long term goals, only short term satiation of their needs.
Contractors typically are given a deposit to begin the work. They have many skills and abilities as well, but are focused on the big picture and have a higher degree of knowledge, understanding to get the job done. They see the job through to the end, when upon satisfactory completion of the agreed upon project, they then receive their reward in full. In essence, those of us who have found Yeshua (Jesus) and are working for His Kingdom are like contractors. We receive the deposit which is enough to equip us to achieve the goals we are sent here to accomplish. Yeshua taught that we ought to store up our treasures in Heaven, which agrees with this concept. Those who have not found Yeshua are like the day laborers, who are short sighted and concerned only with the temporal things of this life. Let’s go back to the beginning and look at the opening verse.

Deuteronomy 21:10, “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the L-RD your G-d delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive.”
When you go forth. It is not a question of whether or not you may go to battle, this fact is assured. Also note that the word “you” is used. This is important as it links the Command to us in our day and time. Yes, this applies to us! How? We are not soldiers going forth in battle, are we? In a sense, yes we are! Here in the month of Elul, we are returning to G-d and His Ways. We are in the midst of a time of repentance. Our battle is not against flesh and blood as Paul writes. We are in an ongoing battle against Yetze Harra, the evil inclination. We ought to be  waging war always against the things in our lives that tempt us to stray from the path set
before us.Fast forward now to the end of this study.
Deuteronomy 25:17-19, “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 “how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you [were] tired and weary; and he did not fear G-d. 19 “Therefore it shall be, when the L-RD your G-d has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the L-RD your G-d is giving you to possess [as] an inheritance, [that] you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.”
Here in the parasha containing the most Commands of any other study in Torah, we start out with the fact that we will go to war against sin. We conclude now with us being urged to remember the Amorites and Moabites and to blot their name out!
These were peoples who attacked the weakest among the people. They specialized in “doubt” if you will. Judaism, our foundation of faith is based in action. Shema means “hear and do.” So here we are given a great number of Commands we are expected to hear and do. In conclusion, we are encouraged to erase doubt and fear. Doubt not that you can do that which is required of you. Fear not that you will somehow fail. Remember also you have the wonderful Atoning blood of Yeshua! Fear not, doubt not and wage war against all that comes to detour you from His Way. Shalom!