V’zot Haberakhah   Week ending September 29, 2018
Torah – Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12 Haftarah – “Joshua 1:1-18

Brit Chadashah – Revelation 22:1-5
V’zot Haberakhah (and this blessing) is the final parasha (portion) in our year long focus on the words of Torah. It is a fairly brief portion that really speaks volumes more than meets the eye. Moshe (Moses) is about to die. The L-RD allows Moshe to speak blessings upon the people, then he is taken upon the mountain and is shown the Promised Land, then is taken home. After his death, the L-RD takes and buries him in a location that to this day is not known to man.
My focus on this week’s portion really is just to show how it is not the end of our study, but it is another link in the circular chain that is Torah. As if to show that the end of Torah is actually the beginning, there is a special link to the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of Bereshit (Genesis). There are other links of which we will look at one more, but to see this first one you have to look at the Hebrew words “Israel” and Bereshit”.’ The last letter in Yisra’el is the lamed. The first letter in Bereshit is the Beit. Lamed beit form the word leb, which is Hebrew for heart! The sages point out that this is no coincidence but rather HaShem (YHVH) showing us that his heart is Torah. Or another way to say it is to say
that he is showing us his heart through Torah. We also know that death is an illusion as shown in earlier parashot. This is why the Priests were not allowed to have contact with the dead. Our apparent death on this side of reality is
really just our stepping over, or our birth into the world to come. This is depicted in the death of Moshe leading directly to Bereshit (In the beginning). This is not a flashback, so to speak, but rather a continuation. This is why at the end of Sukkot and the completion of the reading of Deuteronomy, we immediately begin reading Bereshit so that we experience this immediate new creation or birth as part of Simkah Torah (joy of Torah.) Let’s go now and take a look at the Haftarah portion in Joshua. Before we do, I want to remind you of the words of Rabbi Cliff. You will recall that he has taught that every word in Torah is extremely important. So, if we see something repeated two or more times, it is critical that we slow down and pay attention to what is being said as there are no wasted words in Torah!
Joshua 1:6-9, “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the
L-RD your G-d [is] with you wherever you go.” (NKJV)
Be strong and of good courage, or in other words, be courageous! We see this basic
instruction repeated three times in three verses, back-to-back.
Joshua, in a moment has gone from being the servant of Moshe to the servant of the L-RD! That is quite the promotion. We see the first time he is being instructed how to think and behave with regards to leading the people. In this instruction, we know the reason is because the L-RD is indeed with him and therefore he has nothing to fear. “ONLY be strong…” We see in verse 7 that the word only is added to the command. It is as if we are being cautioned to focus! We cannot be strong and courageous if we give ourselves to entertaining fearful or any other contrary thought pattern to what we have been commanded to do. Another thing to point out in verse 7 is that this time we are not seeing Joshua, and therefore we as well are being instructed to be fearless, strong leaders of people but we are being instructed to exhibit strength and courage in following the Torah, the law or instructions that Moshe gave us on behalf of the L-RD! The success of the mission is dependent upon strict adherence to the Mitzvah or commands. It is in this lifestyle, if you will, that we then experience success. Verse 8 is reminiscent of Psalm chapter one. We are told that these words shall not depart out
of our mouth. The results of such living is retold to be success and prosperity.
Then immediately in verse 9 we are reminded to be strong and of good courage! I think this speaks to our human tendencies to have wandering minds and wandering eyes. I can almost picture Joshua, or even us today, hearing these words from the L-RD, and being built up for a moment. Then upon hearing how we are to keep ALL the commands perhaps our thoughts wander and we begin to doubt our ability to fulfill such a monumental task. Or maybe we are fearful that we won’t be able to live up to the expectations G-d has laid out before us. Then, a loving Father who is watching the countenance of his beloved child fall even as he was
finishing his instructions stops and reminds him of the initial charge to be strong and courageous. For it was for this very reason these words were spoken in the first place! As we finish Torah and immediately begin again may we all remember the charge to be strong and of good courage. The Father has not given us a task so great that we cannot accomplish it. Alone that may be true. But, we are not alone, we have the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) here to help us in our weakness, to illuminate the Word and encourage us to stay upon the right path.
May we all strive to have a prosperous new year in our Torah studies and may it manifest in every area of our lives!
Chazak Chazak ve’nit Chazek Be strong! Be strong! And may we be Encouraged ! Shalom!

Parasha Nitzavim Week ending September 8, 2018
Torah – Deuteronomy 29:10-30:20 Haftarah – Isaiah 61:10-63:9

Brit Chadashah – Romans 10:1-12
As we race towards the conclusion of another year on G-d’s calendar, we are finding ourselves nearing the end of the blessing of the month of Elul. We are also embarking upon the final parashot (portions) of Torah. In fact, these final portions all were written on the final day of Moshe’s life. Nitzavim comes from the opening verse this week. “When you stand.” Yes, this is how Moshe (Moses) addressed the people of Israel just prior to their receiving their inheritance known as
the Promised Land. But there are some implications of the word I want to make you aware of at this time, before we dig in to the meat of this week’s study.
Nitzavim doesn’t merely point to the physical act of standing upon one’s feet any old way. There is an uprightness to it. It speaks to me to the Holiness (set apart) of the people being addressed. It speaks to me of being at attention, as in a state of readiness. I want you to see now how the opening verses speak to us even today as we approach the end of 2018 on our Gregorian calendar and the end of the year 5778 on the Hebrew calendar. We are all going to stand before the L-RD one day. The Fall Feasts of ADONAI point to this very event. Even now as court is being conducted in Heaven, we all, in essence, are standing before the King and Judge. We then enter into the ten Days of Awe when the King deliberates what his judgements will be upon every man, woman, child and nation for the coming year.
Todah Rabah! Thank you very much to our Messiah Yeshua for His intervention on our behalf!
Deuteronomy 29:10-15, “All of you stand today before the L-RD your G-d: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 “your little ones and your wives–also the stranger who [is] in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water– 12 “that you may enter into covenant with the L-RD your G-d, and into His oath, which the L-RD your G-d makes with you today, 13 “that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and [that] He may be G-d to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 14 “I make this covenant
and this oath, not with you alone, 15 “but with [him] who stands here with us today before the L-RD our G-d, as well as with [him] who [is] not here with us today.” (NKJV)
There is much to glean from the verses above. I just want to point out that the Word makes it clear that G-d, through Moshe, is not just speaking to those people present at that time but to us here and now as well. Let’s take a moment to also look at some very important verses that follow the above. They contain a sobering warning we need to hear in our time today just as much, if not more than
they needed it back then.
Deuteronomy 29:16-20, “(for you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by, 17 and you saw their abominations and their idols which [were] among them–wood and stone and silver and gold); 18 “so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the L-RD our G-d, to go [and] serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; 19 “and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of
this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’–as though the drunkard could be included with the sober. 20 “The L-RD would not spare him; for then the anger of the L-RD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the L-RD would blot out his name from under heaven.”
The verses warn that in part the reason they were brought through the nations that they had was to show them the evil ways of the peoples in those lands. They all had forms of godliness, in that they believed in and served “higher powers.” They engaged in all manner of filthiness and had great riches. We are warned to stay away from such things. My attention is particularly drawn to the riches
part! The reason is that our riches, for the most part, are promised in the world to come. Yes, there are certain blessings intended for this life as well, but they are all tied with the strict adherence to the Law (Torah.) Verses 19 and 20 are particularly sobering. May all those asleep in the light (to borrow the title from Rabbi Cliff’s book) wake up soon! Shalom and may we all be sealed for a good and
healthy and prosperous new year in HaShem (YHVH). Shalom

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!