Rosh Chodesh Sh’vat / ראש חודש שבט

Wed, 01 January 2014

at sundown (1st of Sh’vat, 5774)

Essence of Shevat Copied from:http://www.ritualwell.org/ritual/essence-shevat

Rosh Chodesh Shevat: Jan.-Feb., Tu b’Shevat

Article

This “Essence” is taken from the Sourcebook for Leaders, written by Rabbi Rachel Gartner and Barbara Berley Melits, for Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! This experiential program was created by Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies to strengthen the Jewish identity and self-esteem of adolescent girls through monthly celebrations of the New Moon festival. The program is now available through Moving Traditions.

Fast Facts

Shevat is the eleventh of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

Shevat comes at the same time as the secular months January/February. Days begin to grow longer, and the sun shines a bit brighter. In Israel, spring begins in Shevat. Deep underground, the roots of trees slowly wind their way towards water. High above our heads, branches stretch toward the brightening sun.

In Israel almond trees begin to blossom in Shevat. Because they are the first to bloom each Shevat and the nut resembles an eye, an almond tree is called shaked (watcher). Almond trees are said to “keep watch” for spring.

The mazal (constellation) for Shevat is Aquarius, d’li (a vessel filled with water). Miriam (Moses and Aaron’s older sister) was also associated with a vessel of water. Legend teaches that because of her righteousness, Miriam was followed by a mysterious well that sustained the Israelites during the years of the desert wandering. The well, filled with the waters of Creation, is still with us today.

In Shevat Jews take special care to fulfill our obligation to protect and preserve the environment.

Features

Shabbat Shira (The Sabbath of Song) falls on the Shabbat in Shevat when we read the Torah portion B’shalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16), which contains Shirat HaYam (The Song of the Sea). Moses sang this song after crossing the Reed Sea. Afterwards, Miriam led the women in singing their own Shirat HaYam as they danced and played tambourines to celebrate their freedom. The haftarah for Shabbat Shira (See “Festivites”) is the story of the wise judge Deborah (Judges 4:4-5:31) and the heroic woman Yael.

Shabbat Shira Customs

In recent years many women have written English songs about Miriam and her song. Today, many communities celebrate Shabbat Shira with concerts, sing-ins, or extra singing during Shabbat services.

Tu B’Shevat (literally, “the 15th of Shevat”) comes at the same time as the full moon and marks the New Year for the Trees. During Temple times, Tu B’Shevat was something like an ancient tax day. Any fruit that ripened before the 15th of Shevat was taxed as the last year’s crop; anything that ripened after the 15th counted as next year’s crop. These taxes, more accurately called tithes, went toward maintaining the Temple.

Tu B’Shevat Customs

Holding a Tu B’Shevat Seder. In the sixteenth century, the mystics of Sefat (a town in Northern Israel) became interested in Tu B’Shevat as a way to celebrate nature. They created a Tu B’Shevat seder and made up of prayers that enhance our appreciation for trees and fruits. The seder is modeled on the Passover seder and involves drinking four cups of wine and eating up to fifteen different fruits! Today there are many beautiful and creative Tu B’Shevat seders available in print.

Planting Trees. In the late nineteenth century, the growing Jewish settlements in Palestine found planting trees to be a crucial part of restoring the land. From that time until today, Jews all over the world collect money for planting trees in Israel.

Enhancing awareness about and protection of the environment. On Tu B’Shevat we should make an extra effort to learn about important environmental issues and recommit ourselves to protecting and nurturing our world.

Contemplating “The Tree of Life.” The Torah is often referred to as Etz Chaim, “The Tree of Life.” What does this metaphor mean to you?

Etz chaim he lamachazikim bah vetomcheha me’ushar
Deracheha darchey no’am vechol netivoteha shalom

From Proverbs 3:17-18

It is a Tree of Life to those that hold fast to it
And whoever holds onto it is happy.
Its ways are pleasant
And all its paths are peaceful.

Fabulous Females

Torah, Women, and Trees

Scholar Penina Adelman reminds us that important biblical women have names signifying trees. Esther in Hebrew is Hadas meaning myrtle, and Tamar (the name of Judah’s wife (Genesis 38), King David’s daughter (2 Samuel 13), and Absalom’s daughter (2 Samuel 14)) means date palm tree. The judge Deborah heard cases while sitting under tamar Devorah, Deborah’s date palm tree. The alon bachut, “the weeping tree,” stands where Rebecca’s nurse, another woman named Deborah, died. Adelman also points out that Etz Chaim He (The Tree of Life) is an important feminine symbol in Judaism. Women bear offspring, as the Torah bears wisdom, and trees bear fruit. A woman’s children are often referred to as the “fruit of her womb.” In Shevat we recognize the fabulous female connection to the life-giving cycles of nature.

The haftarah for Shabbat Shira (See “Festivites”) is the story of the wise judge Deborah (Judges 4:4-5:31) and the heroic woman Yael. It was selected because Miriam and Deborah both sang songs in celebration of God’s miracles. These two women’s poems, scholars tell us, are among the oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible.

Deborah, one of the Women of Light we read about in Kislev, is the only female judge named in the Torah. She was wise and fair. Deborah sat under her date palm tree and decided cases for the Israelites. Once Deborah, who was also called a prophet, urged the Israelites into battle, informing them that God had commanded it and would see to it that they would come out victorious “by the hand of a woman.” When the battle was indeed won, Deborah sang a victory song.

Deborah inspires us to act fairly, cultivate wisdom, and pursue justice. Deborah’s success as a judge–an occupation that in her day was dominated by men–reminds us that women can do anything.

Yael was instrumental in the Israelites’ obtaining the victory that Deborah had prophesied. When she encountered the enemy king, Yael invited him into her tent. She fed him milk to make him drowsy. When he fell asleep, Yael made sure he would never wake again by driving a tent peg through his temple.

Yael, like Judith of Kislev, inspires our praise for her show of courage in a situation of great danger. At the same time, her rather gruesome story reminds us of the evils of battle and should motivate us to do all we can to rid the world of war.

-fruit-shevat

Foods

The Tu B’Shevat Seder is filled with delicious and healthy fruits. Why not enjoy them throughout the month?

In the Tu B’Shevat seder, fruits are divided into three groups:

Fruits with insides we can eat and outsides that we can’t eat. Some examples are bananas, pomegranates, almonds, and oranges.

Fruits with outsides we can eat and pits inside, which we can’t eat. Some examples are olives, dates, cherries, and avocados.

Fruits that we can eat inside and out. Some examples are grapes, figs, and carobs.

Each of these groups can be thought of as different types of people or different moods we might experience. Some people, for example, have a hard, tough shell but are soft-hearted; other people can seem to be very easy-going but they have a lot of inner resolve and conviction. Try thinking about these distinctions and see what you come up with. You can also invent distinctions of your own.

Red and white grape juices are also important parts of the Tu B’Shevat seder. At the seder, white juice or wine is served as the first cup, symbolizing winter, when seeds are still dormant. Next comes white wine or juice with a dash of red, symbolizing spring and hinting at the seeds’ reawakening and the coming of colorful flowers. The third cup is filled with red wine or juice with a dash of white, symbolizing summer when fruits and vegetables grow freely, and we are reminded of the richness of life. Last comes a cup full of red wine or juice, symbolizing autumn, when we celebrate fully the fruits of the harvest season. This is a good month to drink juices and appreciate how delicious and healthful fruits are.

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. For wonderful materials on Tu B’Shevat including how to lead your own seder, see Ellen Bernstein, Ecology and The Jewish Spirit (Vermont: Jewish Lights, 1998) and Ari Elon, Naomi Hyman, and Arthur Waskow, Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1999).

. For more information on Judaism and Ecology, see Ellen Bernstein’s Let The Earth Teach You Torah (Shomrei Adamah, 1992).

Parashah 14: Va’era – וארא (I appeared)

Shabbat Times New Castle, DE 19720
This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Vaera – וארא
Havdalah (50 min): 5:37pm on Saturday, 28 December 2013

Torah: Va’era (I appeared) – Exodus 6:2 through 9:35
Haftorah (Writings and Prophets): Ezekiel 28:25 through 29:21.
B’rit Hadasha (New Testament): Romans 9:14-17; 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1.

Reference: http://www.therefinersfire.org/parashah_14.htm

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This Torah portion is awesome on many fronts; mainly because it reveals the raw power of our God!

First, in Exodus 6:2, we see YHWH giving His Name to Moshe (Moses): “I am ADONAI. 3 I appeared to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya’akov as El Shaddai, although I did not make myself known to them by my name, .

The tetragrammaton, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, consists basically these letters in English: YHWH (which is pronounced Yahweh).

So, God Himself revealed His Name to us, and man has had access to it all along as we saw in Genesis 4:26, yet actually only knowing Him up until then as El Shaddai, the God who performs hidden miracles and exercises mastery over Nature (Exodus 6:3)! Ironically, traditional Jews refuse to utter his Name for fear of mispronouncing it or misspelling it, etc., and on the other end of the spectrum, you’ll never hear the Father’s Name in most Christian churches as they are all concentrating on “Jesus” whom they believe came to abolish the Torah (YHWH’s divine Instructions in Righteousness)….

Moving on to Exodus 6:6-7, we see YHWH making a wonderful promise to His people:

Exodus 6: 6 “Therefore, say to the people of Isra’el: ‘I am ADONAI. I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians, rescue you from their oppression, and redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am ADONAI your God, who freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians.

The word “redeem” stands out because it basically means “to free from captivity by payment of ransom.” The Israelites couldn’t extricate themselves from the Egyptians; they were held captive under hideous, deplorable conditions – and YHWH Himself promised to “redeem” them. Two thousand years ago, He sent His Son Y’shua to redeem the whole world from “Egypt” (paganism, sin, a life of separation from YHWH). How awesome for the Creator to bother with a creation that has been disobeying and disappointing Him since the very beginning!

In Exodus 6:9 when Moshe (Moses) related the above to the people of Israel, “they wouldn’t listen to him, because they were so discouraged, and their slavery was so cruel.”

In Exodus 6:12 (also see Exodus 6:30), we see Moshe complaining of his fear that no one will listen to him because he is a “slow speaker.” The thing he apparently didn’t realize is that YHWH “chooses” those whomever He wishes, regardless as to their short-comings! That is welcome news for those of us with “hang-ups” or inferiority complexes.

It’s part of human nature to become discouraged, depressed, angry, etc. whenever we experience severe hardships or when YHWH is pushing them to do something that makes no sense at the moment (as was the case for poor Moshe who feared he simply wasn’t qualified). But we would do well to remember: Whenever YHWH gives us a “God-sized” task, it will always lead us to a crisis of belief…And what we choose to do about it, reveals how we truly feel about God! Just something to think about….

-Manorah

In last week’s Torah portion it was puzzling to see Moshe’s brother Aharon (Aaron) seemingly “coming out of nowhere,” but this week we learned that the brothers were from the Tribe of Levi, the priests (see Numbers 1:47-54, etc):

Exodus 6: 19 The sons of M’rari were Machli and Mushi. These were the families of Levi with their descendants. 20 ‘Amram married Yokheved his father’s sister, and she bore him Aharon and Moshe.

Some have attempted to “prove” predestination (via Pharoah’s condition of “being made hard-hearted”), or the idea that before the creation God determined the fate of the universe throughout all of time and space. But, in the case of Pharaoh, YHWH did remove Pharaoh’s free will by hardening his heart because He had already set aside the pagan Egypt for judgment – specifically, that He would “bring judgment on the gods of Egypt”.

Pharaoh was thought to be a god in Egyptian theology, so YHWH was determined to show His glory over pharaoh, the elements, nature, and so on – all designed to prove that YHWH was in charge. Could pharaoh have repented? Did he have that choice? Sure, if he had renounced his crown and the spiritual claims that came with it and given his life to YHWH. But, he never did that – YHWH knew all this beforehand….

And so this week we witnessed a true tug-of-war between YHWH and man – and guess who won! Every time Pharaoh attempted to challenge YHWH, he caused his people (who blindly and apparently unbegrudgingly followed/obeyed their leader) severe grief (as is the case of many leaders today who manage to deceive people into thinking they are perfect and have the answers to everything). Cases in point can be found in the first seven of the ten plagues YHWH sent to Egypt: Blood, frogs, lice, insects, death of livestock, sores and hail (Exodus 7:1 – 8:25).

Pharoah and his cronies honestly believed they could “take on” the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and they even attempted to use magic in their attempts to discredit Him:

Exodus 7: 8 ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ tell Aharon to take his staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, so that it can become a snake.” 10 Moshe and Aharon went in to Pharaoh and did this, as ADONAI had ordered – Aharon threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a snake. 11 But Pharaoh in turn called for the sages and sorcerers; and they too, the magicians of Egypt, did the same thing, making use of their secret arts. 12 Each one threw his staff down, and they turned into snakes. But Aharon’s staff swallowed up theirs. 13 Nevertheless, Pharaoh was made hardhearted; and he didn’t listen to them, as ADONAI had said would happen.

Only YHWH could turn a stick into a snake, but the sages and sorcerers used trickery in attempt to duplicate YHWH’s powers. Note, however, in verse 12 we see that Aharon’s staff “swallowed up theirs” – a sure sign that human “magic” is no match for YHWH!

In Exodus 7:22, the magicians were even able to duplicate YHWH’s “blood” plague. Please read this scripture with the following question in mind: What result did Pharaoh’s actions have on all the people who witnessed the awesome feats of the magicians?

Exodus 7: 22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts, so that Pharaoh was made hardhearted and didn’t listen to them, as ADONAI had said would happen. 23 Pharaoh just turned and went back to his palace, without taking any of this to heart.

When Pharaoh (who was thought to be a god) arrogantly attempted to show the people that he was mightier than the God of the Israelites, he not only used magicians to “show up” YHWH; but he coldly “turned and went back to his palace, without taking any of this to heart” – an action designed to ridicule YHWH and to prove to all the people that Pharaoh was all-knowing and all-powerful! This is exactly why YHWH insists His people stay away from magic, sooth-saying, Tarot card readings, astrology and the like, as these dark “arts” are specifically designed to fool and deceive people in various ways, ultimately keeping them from His Truth and His ways! (This is evidenced in some religions and religious circles via Voodoo, holy laughter and snake handling, etc.)

Pharaoh’s actions have reverberated throughout the millennia because YHWH said the following about Egypt – and it holds true to this very day as evidenced in today’s Haftarah reading:

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Haftarah reading:

In today’s haftarah reading the prophet Ezekiel is told to prophesy against Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

Ezekiel 29: 8 “Therefore Adonai ELOHIM says, ‘I will bring the sword against you and eliminate both your people and your animals. 9 The land of Egypt will become a desolate waste, and they will know that I am ADONAI; because he said, “The Nile is mine; I made it.” 10 So I am against you and your Nile; and I will make the land of Egypt a totally desolate waste from Migdol to S’venah, all the way to the border of Ethiopia. 11 No human foot will pass through it, and no animal foot will pass through it; it will be uninhabited for forty years. 12 Yes, I will make the land of Egypt desolate, even when compared with other desolate countries, likewise her cities in comparison with other ruined cities; they will be desolate forty years. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them through the countries.’

13 “For this is what Adonai ELOHIM says: ‘At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples where they were scattered – 14 I will restore the fortunes of Egypt and cause them to return to the land of their origin, Patros. But there they will be a humble kingdom, 15 the humblest of kingdoms. It will never again dominate other nations; I will reduce them, so that they never again rule other nations. 16 Moreover, they will no longer be a source of confidence for Isra’el to turn to; rather, it will only bring to mind their guilt in having turned to them before. Then they will know that I am Adonai ELOHIM.'”

Take a look at this profound statement by Moshe in Exodus 8: 10 Moshe said, “It will be as you have said, and from this you will learn that ADONAI our God has no equal.”

This is reiterated in the “New Testament” as seen below….

B’rit Chadasha reading:

Romans 9: 17. For in the Scripture, he said to Pharaoh: For this very thing have I raised you up; that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Halleluyah! Truer words were never spoken! Believers, we urge you to proclaim the Names of YHWH and His awesome Messiah Y’shua in all the earth!

In Exodus 9:1 YHWH said, “Let my people go so they can worship me.” We who belong to YHWH have been set from the enemy through the amazing grace of YHWH and the wondrous atoning blood of Messiah Y’shua!

2 Corinthians 6: 14. And don’t be yoked with those who do not believe: for what fellowship has righteousness with iniquity or what fellowship has light with darkness. 15. Or what agreement has the Mashiyach with the Accuser or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16. Or what agreement has the temple of Elohim with that of demons? For you are the temple of the living Elohim; as it is said, I will dwell among them, and walk among them, and will be their Elohim, and they will be my people. 17. Wherefore, you come out from among them, and be separate from them says Master YHWH; and don’t come near the unclean thing,

Food for thought:

Check out the following scriptures and see if they remind you of anything:

Exodus 7: 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ tell Aharon to take his staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, so that it can become a snake.”

Exodus 7: 20 Moshe and Aharon did exactly what ADONAI had ordered. He raised the staff and, in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, struck the water in the river; and all the water in the river was turned into blood.

Exodus 8: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Here is what ADONAI says: “Let my people go, so that they can worship me.

Exodus 8: 10 He answered, “Tomorrow.” Moshe said, “It will be as you have said, and from this you will learn that ADONAI our God has no equal. 11 The frogs will leave you and your homes, also your servants and your people; they will stay in the river only.” 12 Moshe and Aharon left Pharaoh’s presence, and Moshe cried to ADONAI about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 ADONAI did as Moshe had asked -the frogs died in the houses, courtyards and fields; 14 they gathered them in heaps till the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that he had been given some relief, he made himself hardhearted and would not listen to them, just as ADONAI had said would happen.

Exodus 8: They did it -Aharon reached out his hand with his staff and struck the dust on the ground, and there were lice on people and animals; all the dust on the ground became lice throughout the whole land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried with their secret arts to produce lice, but they couldn’t. There were lice on people and animals. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh was made hardhearted, so that he didn’t listen to them, just as ADONAI had said would happen.

Exodus 9: 23 Moshe reached out with his staff toward the sky, and ADONAI sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. ADONAI caused it to hail on the land of Egypt – 24 it hailed, and fire flashed up with the hail; it was terrible, worse than any hailstorm in all of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 Throughout all the land of Egypt, the hail struck everything in the field, people and animals; and the hail struck every plant growing in the field and broke every tree there. 26 But in the land of Goshen, where the people of Isra’el were, there was no hail.

Note that Moshe was acting on BEHALF of YHWH. Whenever he raised his staff, it was an “extension” of YHWH, the “finger of God”….Just like Y’shua was an “extension” of YHWH, or the “arm of YHWH” as mentioned in Isaiah 53:1.

Whenever the magicians attempt to duplicate in order to fool the people, it’s a reminder of the scripture that tells us, “Many will come in my Name”….

Matthew 24: 5 For many will come in my name, saying, `I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray.

Mark 13: 6 Many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!’ and they will fool many people.

Luke 21: 8 He answered, “Watch out! Don’t be fooled! For many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!’ and, `The time has come!’ Don’t go after them.

Bob Jackson
בוב ג’קסון

Parashat Shemot / פרשת שמות

Shemot | שמות | “Names”

Torah: Exodus 1:1 – 6:1
Prophets: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23; Jeremiah 1:1 – 2:3
Brit Hadasha: Matthew 22:23-33, 41-46; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 5:12-39, 20:27-44; Acts 3:12-15, 5:27-32, 7:17-36, 22:12-16, 24:14-16; Hebrews 11:23-26

Note:
“Torah Portions” are a systematic teaching schedule that includes a portion of scripture from the Torah, Prophets, and Brit Hadasha each week. This schedule is known all over the world, and serves as a great way to facilitate discussion and learning with others in the Body of the Messiah.

Reference: http://www.119ministries.com/torah-portion

Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household:2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Pharaoh Oppresses Israel

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?”19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God,he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews[a] you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

The Birth of Moses

2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes[b] and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”[c]

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.[d] 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner[e] in a foreign land.”

God Hears Israel’s Groaning

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

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The Burning Bush

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said,“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[f] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord,[g] the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.[h] 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

Moses Given Powerful Signs

4 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.”[i] And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous[j] like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.

21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses'[k] feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. 30 Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Making Bricks Without Straw

5 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” 4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many,[l] and you make them rest from their burdens!” 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

10 So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” 12 So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” 14 And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”

15 Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? 16 No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” 17 But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” 19 The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” 20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”

God Promises Deliverance

6 But the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

Footnotes:
a.Exodus 1:22 Samaritan, Septuagint, Targum; Hebrew lacks to the Hebrews
b.Exodus 2:3 Hebrew papyrus reeds
c.Exodus 2:10 Moses sounds like the Hebrew for draw out
d.Exodus 2:11 Hebrew brothers
e.Exodus 2:22 Gershom sounds like the Hebrew for sojourner
f.Exodus 3:14 Or I am what I am, or I will be what I will be
g.Exodus 3:15 The word Lord, when spelled with capital letters, stands for the divine name, YHWH, which is here connected with the verb hayah, “to be” in verse 14
h.Exodus 3:19 Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew go, not by a mighty hand
i.Exodus 4:6 Hebrew into your bosom; also verse 7
j.Exodus 4:6 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
k.Exodus 4:25 Hebrew his
l.Exodus 5:5 Samaritan they are now more numerous than the people of the land

Parashah 12: Vayechi (He lived)

SHABBAT: Begins sundown 12/13/2013 to sundown 12/14/2013

Asara B’Tevet occurs on Friday, 13 December 2013
Candle lighting: 4:12pm on Friday, 13 December 2013
Havdalah (72 min): 5:42pm on Saturday, 14 December 2013

Parashat Vayechi / פרשת ויחי

Torah Reading:
B’resheet (Genesis) 47:28-50:26

Haftarah Vayechi:
M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 2:1-12

B’rit Hadashah Suggested readings for Parashah Vayechi:
Acts 7:9-16 (Specifically vv. 15-16); Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 11:21-22; 1 Kefa (1 Peter) 1:3-9; 2:11-17

Messianic Torah Portion Vayechi “And he lived” by Rabbi Yaakov benYosef ­
(Reference:http://www.about-torah.org/Teachings/Portions/htmlportions/Vayechi.html)

The significance of giving blessings and receiving blessings is not understood in the same context that the fathers of our faith understood it. Today most believers are only taught about receiving the blessings that directly come from HaShem. While understanding the importance of the blessings we receive from HaShem is critical to our faith, it is not the only aspect of blessings. During biblical times, it was also understood that HaShem’s blessings could be passed from one person to another. Many of the, blessings described in the Torah and in the Brit Hadashah are blessings that result from this type of exchange.

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Blessings of this nature always require a physical connection between the two individuals. As a result, these blessings require the laying on of hands. The importance of a blessing like this is that it is a public witness of HaShem’s authority to pass a blessing from one person to another. Scripture teaches that these types of blessings are always passed from the person of greater righteousness to the person of lesser righteousness. The writer of Hebrews understood this, as we can see in Hebrews 7:1-7, which states: For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

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Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. This passing of HaShem’s blessing from one person to another person demonstrated to the world that HaShem allows His power to flow through His people. Therefore, the passing on of blessings is a clear representation of HaShem’s concern for all humanity.

imagesMFKW3P7F.jpg-Jacob meets Pharoh

Yaakov demonstrated this when he blessed the Pharaoh. B’reisheet 47:7-10 states “Yosef brought in Yaakov his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Yaakov blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Yaakov, How old are you? And Yaakov said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. And Yaakov blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.” Blessing others in the name of HaShem is considered an act of holiness. Therefore, blessing another individual with the laying on of hands has the power to transform the individual receiving the blessing. The transforming power of passing blessings to others, can be seen in Vayechi when Yaakov laid his hands on Ephraim and Manasseh and pronounced the blessing.

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When Yaakov was preparing to die Yosef brought his sons Ephraim and Manasseh to his father, so that he could bless his grandchildren. In the process of blessing his grandchildren, Yaakov crossed his hands putting his left hand on Manasseh’s head and his right hand on Ephraim’s head. Yaakov then blessed the two children as B’reisheet 48:15-16 states: “he blessed Yosef, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Yaakov’s blessing passed onto his grandchildren five of the most crucial parts of HaShem’s covenant with Yisrael. In the first part of the blessing, Yaakov asked HaShem to be the God of Ephraim and Manasseh. In the second part of the blessing, Yaakov asked HaShem to redeem Ephraim and Manasseh through the messenger of redemption. In the third part of the blessing, Yaakov placed his name on the boys. In the fourth part of the blessing, Yaakov gave the name of his forefathers to the boys.

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In the fifth part of the blessing, Yaakov asked HaShem to make Ephraim and Manasseh into a multitude. Yaakov’s blessing encompassed all the promises and blessings given to Yisrael. Yaakov’s blessing on Ephraim and Manasseh was a blessing to bring Ephraim and Manasseh into the same covenant as Yaakov’s natural-born sons. Therefore, Yaakov was fulfilling his promise that is recorded in B’reisheet 48:3-5, which states: “Yaakov said unto Yosef, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.” Yaakov’s blessing replaced the Egyptian identity Ephraim and Manasseh inherited when the Pharaoh renamed Yosef and gave Yosef an Egyptian wife. B’reisheet 41:45 states “Pharaoh called Joseph`s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.” Yaakov’s blessing resurrected the Hebrew heritage that was Yosef’s before he was separated from his brothers. Therefore, Ephraim and Manasseh were grafted into Yaakov’s family and became the natural branches of Yosef’s linage. This gave Ephraim and Manasseh the same responsibilities and rewards that natural-born sons inherit. Yaakov’s blessing transformed children born to Zaphnathpaaneah and his Egyptian wife into children who were Yisraelites. Therefore, when HaShem delivered His people from Egyptian bondage, Ephraim and Manasseh were counted among the tribes of Yisrael. In addition, when HaShem brought the Yisraelites to Mount Sinai, Ephraim and Manasseh received the Torah at the same time as the other tribes. In fact, the grafted branch of Ephraim produced Yehoshua who became a leader and led the Children of Yisrael into the Promised Land. When Yaakov blessed Ephraim and Manasseh they became responsible for the Torah, the covenants and the same responsibilities that HaShem had given to the natural branches.

images.jpg-vayechi

In Vayechi, we can see that the transfer of Yaakov’s blessing to Yosef’s sons replaced their Egyptian identity with a resurrected Hebrew identity. Yaakov’s actions made Ephraim and Manasseh full brothers with the other tribes. Therefore, Yaakov’s grafting of Ephraim and Manasseh into Yisrael also made Ephraim and Manasseh responsible for worshipping the same way and with the same commandments that HaShem had given to the natural branches. Therefore, as grafted branches, Ephraim and Manasseh’s Egyptian identity died, and they gained the identity of Yisrael. In other words, Ephraim and Manasseh became a new creation. As a result, Ephraim and Manasseh were equal partakers of the root and the fatness of the natural olive tree that Rav Shaul speaks of in Romans 11:17, when he sates: “if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them to partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree” In this present age Grafted believers are comparable to Ephraim and Manasseh. Therefore, all believers should become partakers of the root and the fatness of the olive tree. It is the duty of believers to resurrect the covenants, commandments and responsibilities that HaShem has given to all His people.

© 2010 About Torah

Bob Jackson
בוב ג’קסון

Parashah 11: Vayigash (He approached)

SHABBAT: Begins sundown December 6 to sun down December 7 2013

Civil Date: December 7, 2013
Hebrew/Babylon Date: Tevet 4, 5774

Vayigash (ויגש)

TORAH:
B’resheet (Genesis) 44:18-47:27

HAFTARAH Vayigash:
Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 37:15-28

B’RIT HADASHAH suggested reading for Parashah Vayigash:
Acts 7:9-16 (Specifically vv.13-15)

imagesCARHRKZS.jpg-joseph as viceroy

General Overview: Reference[www.chabad.org]

In this week’s Torah reading, Vayigash, Judah responds to Joseph’s demand that Benjamin remain enslaved in Egypt, pleading to be taken as a substitute. Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. At Joseph’s request, Jacob and his family come down to Egypt.

First Aliyah: In the end of last week’s Torah reading, Joseph demanded that Benjamin remain behind in Egypt as his slave. This week’s reading opens with Judah approaching Joseph and appealed to him to allow Benjamin to return to his father Jacob in Canaan. He spoke of Jacob’s reluctance to allow Benjamin – Rachel’s only remaining child – to make the trip to Egypt, and the great love Jacob harbored for his youngest son.

Second Aliyah: Judah continued: “When [Jacob] sees that the boy is gone, he will die.” He explained to Joseph that he, Judah, had taken personal responsibility that Benjamin would return unharmed to Canaan. And as such, he asked to remain as a slave in stead of Benjamin. At that point, Joseph could not restrain himself any longer. He asked all the Egyptians present to leave the room, and he revealed his identity to his brothers: “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?!” He then reassured them, and asked them not to be upset about selling him into slavery: “For it was to preserve life that G‑d sent me before you. For . . . another five years there will be neither plowing nor harvest, and G‑d sent me before you to ensure your survival in the land…”

Third Aliyah: Joseph directed his brothers to quickly return to Canaan and bring Jacob and their families back to Egypt, where Joseph promised to provide them with food until the famine ends. Joseph embraced his brothers and cried. Pharaoh was informed that Joseph’s family had arrived, and he, too, instructed them to come to Egypt where he would give them the “best of the land.” The brothers went to Canaan – laden with gifts from Pharaoh and Joseph – and informed Jacob that Joseph was alive, indeed he ruled over all of Egypt. “And the spirit of their father Jacob was revived.”

Fourth Aliyah: Jacob and his entire family left Canaan and headed to Egypt. En route they stopped in Beersheba, where G‑d told Jacob not to fear going to Egypt, for it is there that he will be made into a great nation. Furthermore G‑d told him: “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up.”

Fifth Aliyah: This section names the seventy members of Jacob’s family that went to Egypt.

Sixth Aliyah: Jacob arrived in Egypt, to the province of Goshen that Pharaoh had allotted his family. Joseph went there to greet his father. Joseph prepared his family for meeting Pharaoh, and instructed his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds, who only wish to tend to their flocks in Goshen until the famine ends. Indeed the brothers followed this script, and Pharaoh acceded to their request. Jacob was then brought before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed him.

Seventh Aliyah: While Joseph supplied his family with food, the rest of Egypt was in a desperate plight. First they expended all their money in exchange for food that Joseph sold them. Then their money ran out, and they paid for provisions with their cattle. Finally, when they had no money or chattel left, they sold their land and themselves to Pharaoh into servitude in exchange for provisions. Meanwhile, in the land of Goshen, Jacob’s family prospered and multiplied exceedingly.

Bob Jackson
בוב ג’קסון

Rosh Chodesh Tevet / ראש חודש טבת

Tuesday 03 December 2013 (30th Kislev 5774).
After sundown it will be Wed, 4 December 2013 = 1st of Tevet, 5774

Tevet is the 10th month on the Hebrew/Babylonian calendar.

YHVH calendar on this day is 30/10/5774.

The History of Rosh Chodesh: Reference (www.hebrew4-christians.com/)

According to Rabbinic tradition, the very first commandment given to the children of Israel after being delivered from Egypt was to sanctify the new moon (Exodus 12:1-2), thereby causing the fledgling nation to depart from the solar tradition of the Egyptians (Ra worship) and to look to the moon for new means of reckoning time and seasons.

The emergence of the moon – from darkness to light – is a picture of HaShem’s salvation for the Jewish people and our personal deliverance from darkness to light. Note that the word for month is chodesh, etymologically related to chadash, meaning new.

imagesCAOIR750.jpg-phases of the Moon

Knowing precisely when Rosh Chodesh began was critical to the order of the mo’edim, or appointed times commanded by HaShem. In fact the entire Jewish calendar was dependent upon knowing when Rosh Chodesh began, and without this information the set times for the festivals and holidays would be lost. Therefore , during times of persecution (e.g., by the Syrian-Greeks). the Jews were often forbidden to observe Rosh Chodesh as well as Shabbat, in order to keep them from obeying Yahweh.

Some More History from Our Orthodox Brothers: Reference (www.ou.com/)

THE MONTH OF TEVET

The month of Tevet is the tenth in the number of months counting from Nisan. The name Tevet was acquired in Babylonia, as is the case with the names of the other Hebrew months. In the Scroll of Esther (Chapter 2) the month is referred to as, “the tenth month, which is the month of Tevet.”

A Month of Anguish

During the month of Tevet, three fast days are observed, the 8th, 9th and 10th of the month, in commemoration of three major calamities which befell the People of Israel.

The fast days of the 8th and 9th of Tevet are called ‘fast-days-for-the-righteous,’ as on these days, only individuals who choose to, fast, whereas the fast of the 10th of Tevet is a public fast obligating the entire Jewish community.

What Happened?

0n the 8th of Tevet, at the beginning of the “Greek Era,” the Torah was translated into Greek by the decree of King Ptolemy, in about the year 313 B.C.E., according to the Bayit Sheni Timeline presented in the Chanukah Section, which locates the date of the Destruction of the First Temple in 423 B.C.E. This corresponds to the approximate year of 476 B.C.E., according to the alternate timeline which locates the Destruction at 586 B.C.E. That day was regarded as equally calamitous for Israel as the day on which the Golden Calf was made, since it is impossible to adequately translate the Torah.

Moving backwards in time, the 9th of Tevet commemorates the death of both Ezra the Scribe and Nechemia, two of our greatest leaders, who faithfully led Israel during the return from Babylonian captivity. This occurred in approximately the year 353 B.C.E., according to the first Timeline referenced above, or approx. 516 B.C.E., according to the alternate Timeline. It is said that the eyes of all Israel were clouded by their death, for the loss of these great leaders was a tremendous blow, and Ezra’s stature, in particular, was so great that it is said of him that had the Torah not been given to Israel through Moses, it would have been given to Israel through Ezra.

On the 10th of Tevet, Nevuchadnetzar, King of Babylonia, laid siege to Yerushalayim. The imposition of this vise-like siege occurred in the approximate year 426 B.C.E., according to the Bayit Sheni Timeline, or the approximate year 589 B.C.E., according to the timeline which sets the year of the Destruction of the First Temple as 586 B.C.E.

The walls of Yerushalayim were subsequently breached on the 17th of Tammuz, during the third year of the siege, and the Temple destroyed on Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av, the saddest day in the Hebrew Calendar, the Date of Destruction of both Temples, and the most somber fast day. But the start of the siege set the stage for both of those tragic events. It was for this reason that the Prophets and other Jewish Leaders of the time set the Tenth of Tevet as a day of fasting for the Jewish People.

In modern day Israel, the 10th of Tevet has been designated as Yom Hakaddish Haklali – the day on which we mourn those whose date or place of death is unknown.

On the 1st of Tevet, Yechoniah, King of Yehudah, was exiled together with the Sages and the nobility, members of the family of royalty, of Yerushalayim. The day was not however designated as a public fast day.

With the exception of the closing days of Chanukah, the month of Tevet contains no Yom Tov or festive day.

Bob Jackson
בוב ג’קסון