Shabbat Shirah

Ps. 145:21 (NASB) My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach[1], we read the Song at the Sea; and in the haftarah, the Song of Deborah. Because of this, Jewish tradition dubs this Shabbat: Shabbat Shirah, or the “Sabbath of Song.” In each of these songs, YHWH is highly exalted as Israel’s deliverer. The enemy has been defeated, and we rejoice!

Beshalach always coincides with Tu B’Shevat (Shevat 15th), or the New Year for Trees. There is an interesting connection between the splitting of the Reed Sea and trees, found here. As the sap begins to rise in the trees so that they blossom and bud with new life, the birds that nest in their branches begin their migrations. Up to 500 million part the sky as they fill Israel’s air space twice a year, with the spring movement beginning in Shevat (February/March).[2] The birds flow and move to the beat of their own moedim, retelling their own type of exodus.

Jer. 8:7 (KJV) Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times (moedim); and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.

Isabelline Wheatear, spring migration in Israel.

Along their journey, they fill the air with something else: songs of praise! Their tiny lungs fill with the air of heaven to release it in a song like no other creatures on earth. Their chirps, squawks, tweets, and peeps harmonize to glorify the LORD. For this reason, a custom developed in Ashkenazi communities to feed these praise singers on Shabbat Shirah.[3]

Ezek. 17:22-24 (TLV) Thus says Adonai Elohim: “I, even I, will take from a sprig from the top of the lofty cedar and will plant it. I will crop off a tender twig from the topmost of its young shoots, and I will plant it on a tall and prominent mountain. 23 I will plant it on Israel’s high mountain. It will bring forth branches, bear fruit and be a magnificent cedar. Birds of every kind will nest under it—they will nest in the shade of its branches. 24 Then all the trees of the field will know that I, Adonai, have brought down the high tree, exalted the lowly tree, dried up the green tree, and made the dry tree flourish. I, Adonai, have spoken and I will do it.”[4]

The Song of the Sea is read every morning in the prayer service (Shacharit) in the Pesukei D’Zimrah, or Verses of Song. The Shacharit begins with blessings and psalms specifically chosen to invoke kavanah or focus and awe for the Holy One in the person praying. The Pesukei D’Zimrah is full of songs and praise, which prepares one to recite the Shema and Amidah. “Know before Whom you stand.”[5] Only after acknowledging and praising Adonai as the Holy One of Israel, can one properly seek Him for requests and desires.

There is another possible meaning of zimrah (song/melody) that emphasizes this point and connects it to the month of trees, in which Beshalach and the Song of the Sea is read. The Hebrew root zemer means “to prune.”[6] The psalms, including the Song of the Sea, are verses of pruning! These melodies act like a type of pruning shear that cuts off wild and unruly growths from one’s tree or mind/heart. Healthy branches receive more nourishment, and hindrances to heartfelt prayer are removed. In this way, the songs and melodies of Scripture (and even modern worship songs/music) lift, align, and unify one with Adonai and fellow worshipers.

This is even figured on the Torah Scroll. The Song at the Sea is written in a brickwork pattern of three interlocking columns, which makes it stand out on the leaf (page of Torah.)[7] This arrangement mimics the congealed columns of water and the Children of Israel walking between them on dry ground, united or interlocked. It is one of only two places in the Torah written in a different layout. The other is the Song of Moses. (Dt. 32) The Song of Deborah follows this same brickwork pattern. (See examples below.)

Song of the Sea

Song of Deborah

The imagery of the early spring season in Shevat, birds migrating through the Land, splitting the heavens with wings and song, the Torah cycle retelling the exodus and the parting of the sea in the month of trees, all proclaim a loud message. Can you discern the bird’s song? It’s the same message from the beginning. Moses and the children sang it at the sea. Deborah recalled it in Judges 5. David repeats it in Psalm 68. Every morning it is recounted in the synagogue. The last book, Revelation, has flying angels proclaiming it to the whole earth.

Ex. 15:1-2 (NASB) Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. 2 “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation (Yeshua); This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.”

Jdg. 5:1-4, 31 (NASB) Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying, 2 “That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the LORD! 3 “Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I—to the LORD, I will sing, I will sing praise to the LORD, the God of Israel. 4 “LORD, when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom, the earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, even the clouds dripped water.” … “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD; but let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.”

Ps. 68:1-4 (NASB) For the choir director. A Psalm of David. A Song. Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before Him. 2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God. 3 But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness. 4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him.

Rev. 14:6-8 (NASB) And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” 8 And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”

This Shabbat Shirah, I encourage you to read all the above chapters. (Ex. 15, Jdg. 5, Ps. 68, Rev. 14) See how many thematic connections you can make, and declare The Message to others. The result should cause great jubilation, praise, and awe of the Almighty. If it doesn’t, perhaps one needs to undergo the pruning shears first. To align one’s heart with Adonai, look to the birds. Fill your lungs – even if they feel low on breath– with air and sing, chirp, and tweet about His Greatness. This will lift you up on wings like an eagle, deliverance that only God can achieve.

It is interesting to note that in Hebrew it says that Moses and the sons of Israel will sing, az yashir, but the portion of the song attributed to Miriam and the women is in the present tense, plural imperative: shiru l’Adonai, sing to Adonai (now).

Ex. 15:20-21 (NASB) Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. 21 Miriam answered them, “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”

I’ll never forget an evening of prayer with some local women a few years ago. We had just finished a spiritually tough, but encouraging Bible study on a section in the Book of Revelation. I had shown everyone a slide of an artist’s depiction of the harlot riding the red, seven headed beast with four shady horse and riders in the backdrop of smoke and chaos. The picture spoke a thousand words of defeat and oppression. The point of the lesson was overcoming this false image in our own hearts. (See The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.)

When we prayed, the Spirit was so strong, flowing freely in our midst. Suddenly, my mind was flooded with images of the Song at the Sea. The Words of triumph and joy were so vivid that I began to jump as I recounted Miriam’s words: “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”


Beloved, we sing because He has already overcame the world. Though Pharaoh or the Whore of Babylon is riding close at our heels, we already know the end of the story. The horsemen, their chariots, and beasts of burden are stopped with a single blast of the Almighty’s nostrils. Their wheels will get stuck in the very mud in which they wallow. So, don’t wait to sing. Like Miriam and the great host of women, Sing now!

Ps. 68:11-12 (NASB) The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host: 12 “Kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home will divide the spoil!”

Ps. 150:6 (NASB) Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Masada


[1]Exodus 13:17–17:16, Judges 4:4–5:31.

[2]https://www.birds.org.il/en/article-page.aspx?articleId=124 Retrieved 2/7/2020.

[3]There are several explanations given for this tradition. For example, see this article: https://schechter.edu/why-is-shabbat-shirah-for-the-birds-2/

[4]Mat. 3:31-32 (TLV) He presented to them another parable, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 It’s the smallest of all seeds; yet when it’s full grown, it’s greater than the other herbs. It becomes like a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

[5]This phrase is inscribed on the ark (that houses the Torah Scroll) in many synagogues. It is drawn from: Ex.3:4-6 When Adonai saw that he turned to look, He called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” So he answered, “Hineni.” 5 Then He said, “Come no closer. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” So Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (TLV)

[6]For example, see The Seif Edition Artscroll Hebrew/English Siddur on Pesukei D’Zimrah.

[7]Torah scrolls are penned on kosher (clean) animal skins and spooled onto a wooden post called an Etz chayim or Tree of Life. The Torah Scroll has much in common with trees and people. Like a tree, it is alive, has leaves, and bears fruit. Like a person, it has a crown, wears a sash or belt and an outer garment, and has a yad or hand. For more, see The Unity of the Scroll.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tevet: Be Angry, and Sin Not

Eph. 4:26-27 (NASB) BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.

This year, I’ve been concentrating on the sense of anger for the upcoming month of Tevet. Tevet is the tenth Hebrew month, which denotes a completion of sorts or a representation of the whole, like a tithe. For example, see number ten in this post, or consider how ten men make a minyan for prayer, or that Abraham negotiated with YHWH down to ten righteous souls to save Sodom (Gen. 18). In what way does Tevet express aspects of ten? The answer to that question has partially eluded me until this year. As it turns out, anger is the key.

First, consider that every year Tevet begins at the end of Chanukah. One’s lamp should be full of candles or light when the tenth month arrives. This is in stark contrast to what is happening in the natural. Outside, the days are short and cold. There is less “light,” physically and spiritually. And yet, followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are meant to be the light to those in darkness.

The spiritual darkness at this season is recorded in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees:

1 Mac. 1:44-50 (KJVA) For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land, 45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:  46  And pollute the sanctuary and holy people: 47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts: 48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation: 49 To the end they might forget the law (Torah), and change all the ordinances. 50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.

Denying proper sacrifices, profaning the Shabbat and Feast days of Adonai, polluting the holy altar with swine’s flesh, and forbidding circumcision, all served to make the people forget the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (These things are still true of the anti-messiah spirit.) The end goal of the anti-christ spirit is for God’s people to forget His Torah, His Word. So, what is one actually “forgetting” if this spirit is successful?

Pro. 6:23 (TLV) For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah a light, and corrective discipline (mussar) the way of life.

The Torah or instructions of Adonai provide spiritual light to those that follow HaShem. They are a light unto one’s path. (Ps. 119:105) They train and teach one in the Way of Life. Chanukah comes from the same root as the Hebrew word for education. (Chet, nun, chaf) Chanak means to train, to dedicate. At the time of the Maccabees, the Greeks were determined to force Hellenism upon the Jewish people, and sadly, they were mostly successful. This necessitated the reeducation of the larger Jewish population with Adonai’s Torah. Celebrating Chanukah reminds one that we are always at war with false ideologies, paradigms, and mindsets.

Interestingly, the Maccabees urged the people to celebrate “the feast of Tabernacles in the month of Kislev” as a commemoration of their victory.

2 Mac. 1:1-9 (KJVA) The brethren, the Jews that be at Jerusalem and in the land of Judea, wish unto the brethren, the Jews that are throughout Egypt health and peace: 2 God be gracious unto you, and remember his covenant that he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants; 3 And give you all an heart to serve him, and to do his will, with a good courage and a willing mind; 4 And open your hearts in his law and commandments, and send you peace, 5 And hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble. 6 And now we be here praying for you. 7 What time as Demetrius reigned, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we the Jews wrote unto you in the extremity of trouble that came upon us in those years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and kingdom, 8 And burned the porch, and shed innocent blood: then we prayed unto the Lord, and were heard; we offered also sacrifices and fine flour, and lighted the lamps, and set forth the loaves. 9 And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the month Casleu (Kislev).

Chanukah literally means dedication; the Maccabees cleansed and rededicated the Temple or House unto Adonai. Like in English, dedicate (chanak) in Hebrew means to devote or set apart for a special purpose. In this case, the Temple was rededicated and devoted solely for the purpose of worshipping YHWH and Him alone. But, dedicate can also mean to devote oneself completely unto someone or something. In this sense, it is related to training. A student devotes or dedicates himself to his studies.

Pro. 22:6 (NASB) Train up (chanak) a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Chanukah reminds one to rededicate their house or Temple for the purposes of Adonai, and to live a life devoted to learning His Word. This conforms and molds one into His image in the earth. In this way, we become vessels of His Light, shining brighter each year. All other ideologies fail and fall as truth is etched onto one’s heart.

2 Tim. 2:15 (KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Therefore, it is with this knowledge fresh on one’s mind that we enter the tenth month of Tevet.

The Head of Tevet

The new moon is the “head” of each month. As such, the first of each month figuratively contains all the raw material and spiritual light for that particular season. In other words, the head (of the month) directs the body (of the month). The head of Tevet begins with the last and brightest lights of the Chanukiah. Thus, Chanukah points the way through Tevet. It trains one how to war against spiritual darkness.

Although we’ve been celebrating the victory of the Maccabees, the rededication of the Temple, and overcoming the enemy despite great odds, Tevet immediately casts one into the throws of seeming peril. It is so great that Zechariah reminds the forlorn people that one day, four traditional fast days WILL become a time of joy. One of those fasts occurs in the tenth month:

Zec. 8:19 (NASB) Thus says the LORD of hosts, “The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.”

The fast on the tenth of the tenth month (Asarah B’Tevet) recalls the siege on the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The fast is from just before sun up until nightfall.

2 Ki 25:1 (NASB) Now in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, camped against it and built a siege wall all around it. (see also Jer. 52:4)

Wait! You mean right after celebrating a victory of overcoming the enemy and rededicating the House to YHWH, we are supposed to recall yet another attack on the Temple? Yes. A better question to ask is, “Why?”

The Temple or House is a physical picture of the Body and the heart of mankind. Just as your physical body and your spiritual body are both essential to life, Adonai’s earthly Temple AND spiritual Temple each serve the God of the Living. In the natural, there is an ongoing war for the place that Adonai placed His name.[1] Likewise, there is an ongoing war for the temple of your body and your heart, where Adonai dwells.

Nebuchadnezzar’s army pitched their tents around the city, and then built siege weapons (dayek) like towers, mounds, and bulwarks, in which they could shoot their arrows and cast their stones.

  • The enemy SURROUNDS the city.
  • They pitch tents.
  • They build siege works to cast arrows and stones past the city walls.

Spiritually or figuratively, at this season has the enemy surrounded you, set up a camp, and began building siege works? Casting arrows or stones can metaphorically refer to words that cut, pierce, or crush another person. We need to not only be on the defensive for such tactics; but even more importantly, we need to ensure that we guard our own tongue and lips! We don’t want to be found with an unruly member.Like Yeshua, it is often best to be silent before one’s accusers.

The story and commemoration of Chanukah and Nebuchadnezzar’s siege on the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the 1stTemple, inform the warfare of the tenth month. There is judgment regarding the “House” at this season. Do you recall another month on Adonai’s calendar where this is the case?

In many ways, Tevet mirrors the fourth month of Tammuz. On Tammuz the 17th, the fast of the fourth month marks another siege on the walls of Jerusalem, this time though, it is a breach of the 2ndTemple.[2] Compare the following account from the Mishnah about the 17thof Tammuz with 1 Maccabees 1:44-50 above.

There were five events that happened to our ancestors on the seventeenth of Tammuz and five on the ninth of Av. On the seventeenth of Tammuz: The tablets were shattered; The tamid (daily) offering was cancelled; The [walls] of the city were breached; And Apostomos burned the Torah, and placed an idol in the Temple. On the ninth of Av It was decreed that our ancestors should not enter the land, The Temple was destroyed the first And the second time, Betar was captured, And the city was plowed up. When Av enters, they limit their rejoicing.[3](Taanit 4:6)

Look at the clock face below. Rather than thinking of hours and minutes, allow each number to represent one of the twelve months. Adonai’s calendar is cyclical like the clock face.

Now, look at number one and number seven. Do you see how they are directly opposite one another on the clock/calendar face? How are month one and month seven alike? The first and seventh months contain all but one of the sacred moedim or appointed times in Leviticus 23. Together they envelop the entire harvest season and the “light” part of the year. Just as Pesach mirrors Sukkot, month one mirrors month seven.

Look at the clock face again. Trace each number to find it’s opposite in the year. (1-7, 2-8, 3-9, 4-10, 5-11, 6- 12.) We can learn much by studying opposites. Connections that one would otherwise miss are revealed through opposite counterparts. This is how male and female are meant to function, they are alike and yet opposite. (To understand this better, see The Biblical Role of Women.)

By looking at each month’s counterpart on the calendar, one can learn a great deal about what is happening (spiritually) at that season. For example, month 6 (Elul) and month twelve (Adar) are both months of spiritual preparation. Yom Hakippurim is a day (yom) like Purim if one takes the time to investigate it. The forty days of repentance begins on the first of Elul and concludes on Yom Kippur. Besides repentance, this forty day period of examination includes renouncing and annulling careless words, promises, and vows made in the previous year. Just before Yom Kippur, the Kol Nidre service serves to finalize this process.

Queen Esther nullified the vows of her husband at Mordecai’s suggestion, which was a topsy turvy play on Numbers 30. Pur doesn’t just mean “lots,” but also annulments. Purim commemorates much more than Haman’s wicked “lots.” It also celebrates the “pur” or annulments of Queen Esther![4] Ideally, one repents, prepares, and annuls impulsive vows before Yom Kippur in Elul, the mirror of Adar.  Thus, by examining each month’s counterpart, one gains a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rhythm of the Creator’s calendar.

The tenth month (Tevet) mirrors month four (Tammuz). The theme of each month is centered on the siege of the walls of Jerusalem, and the eventual destruction of Adonai’s House. According to tradition, the House or Temple was destroyed because of:

1stTemple – idolatry

2ndTemple – baseless hatred against brothers

The rabbis teach that, in reality, both sins were present at each destruction. Besides being a direct infraction of the two greatest commandments (love Adonai, love neighbor), what else do these destructions have in common? Meditating on this, I had a realization about the sense of anger. The Bible says to, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Anger Brings Destruction

According to psychology, anger is a secondary emotion; meaning, it is rooted in the more primary emotion of fear. Anger is the “fight” side of the “fight or flight (or freeze)” instinct that one has when faced with danger or a threat. With fear and anger, one’s heart rate accelerates, blood pressure rises, and adrenaline increases blood circulation to the muscles. These physical responses enable one to run quickly, or to stand and fight the enemy or threat one is facing.

These physical responses can save your life if you meet a bear in the woods. But, while they enable the physical body to perform with increased speed and strength, they simultaneously decrease one’s executive brain. In other words, anger (and fear) reduces one’s ability to perform risk assessment. One’s actions are managed without forethought about how they will affect the future. These emotions are pinpointed on the moment of threat with survival being the only goal in sight. The sad part, is that what we perceive as a threat can simply be someone else’s opinion. This is especially true in the age of lightning fast global communication.

The Talmud equates anger with the sin of idol worship, which is an affront to the first and greatest commandment, and one of the reasons YHWH allowed the Temple to be destroyed. Why do you suppose the rabbis consider anger to be on the level of idolatry?

When one is enraged, who is on the throne? It can be fear, but it can also be self, a form of pride. Think about this for a moment. Imagine a time when you were infuriated. Did you not have a strong sense of righteousness at that time? Couldn’t you list off a litany of reasons why you had the “right” to be furious? Whether you were right or wrong at that moment in time, you became the judge. Likely, you were also the executioner spewing out reprimands, insults, and judgments. In this way, anger, became a false god. Or more accurately, anger ruled your heart, not Adonai.

The Jewish sages have some profound messages on anger. In Pesachim 66b, it says, “Whosoever yields to anger, if he be a wise man his wisdom leaves him, and if he be a prophet his prophecy leaves him.” Nedarim 22a says, “The angry person is overcome by all forms of hell.” The sages realize that an angry person doesn’t think straight. They have a one track mind that the Bible equates to foolery.

Ecc. 7:9 (NASB) Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.

I don’t know one person that has not said or done something that they regret when they were angry. There is a reason that in Hebrew anger is expressed with words like boiling, seething, and burning. It is the emotion most akin to hell, because if acted on, fists of fury and injurious words of death blast out like a machine gun bent on destruction. These actions are never righteous, though many believe they are justified if the other person is in error or wicked or _________ – you pick an excuse. It behooves us to stick with the wisdom of James:

James 1:19-21 (NASB) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Man’s anger does NOT achieve the righteousness of God. This doesn’t mean that it is a sin to get angry, especially over sin and injustice. Knowing this, many people use the coined term “righteous anger” to differentiate between sinful anger and non-sinful anger. The problem is that I have witnessed many people use the term “righteous anger” to say (or type) horrible, hurtful things to others. Their actions produce anything but “righteousness.”

If you are a Believer and are truly seeking after the righteousness of God, then you know how easy it is to deceive yourself. Anger comes from a place of fear, which only the perfect love of Adonai can cast out. If not from fear, it comes from pride, which is superiority – a form of idolatry. Thus, the emotion of anger is not the problem; rather, it’s what one does with that anger.

When we are angry, we cannot achieve the righteousness of God. In the heat of the moment, it is imperative to ask yourself whether the anger is coming from fear or pride. (These are actually two sides of the same coin.) Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? Why do I feel superior in this situation? How can I turn my anger into an action that will be restorative for the other person, myself, and perhaps others? These are some of the questions that can cool off one’s hot head. They also remind one to LOVE their neighbor, the second failure of Israel that caused the Temple to be destroyed.

Pro. 12:15-16 (KJV) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. 16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

Even if the other person is wrong, a wise man or woman will cover the shame of the other. Rather than go on a tirade exposing the flesh of their neighbor, a wise person has learned to REACT differently. This is incredibly difficult, a test I’ve failed many times. Mussar teacher Alan Morinis put it this way:

“The issue is not anger; the issue is how we act in response to that trigger. And what we learn from Jewish wisdom is that we should strive never to lose our mastery over our emotional lives. We see that in the liturgy that has us praise God’s quality of being slow to anger. On festival days and especially on Yom Kippur, we intone, ‘Adonai, Adonai! Compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness .…’ Notice that being “slow to anger” is high on the list of characteristics we ascribe to God.”[5]

If you are reading this post, I believe, like me, you desire to be like Adonai. This includes being long nosed, the Hebrew idiom for being “slow to anger.” A long nose takes a long time for air to travel in and out. It is akin to taking a deep breath and slowly releasing it. This is a scientifically proven method to help one to calm down. Before reacting, pause, and practice some deep breathing.

Pro. 16:32 (NASB) He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

Be Angry, and Sin Not

This Tevet, consider once again the siege on the walls of Jerusalem, and the eventual destruction of the Temple. Be angry about what brought Israel to this devastating predicament, which was idolatry and baseless hatred. Search your heart for hidden idols and hate. Get angry about those things. Use this time as an opportunity to root out darkness in your own heart. Don’t take the bait in the MANY traps and siege works of the enemy. They are there to incite anger and to get you to react in an unrighteousness manner.

Adonai’s clock is pointed at the ten and the four. Four is about authority, and ten is a tithe representing the whole. How we handle anger will reveal whether destruction or restoration occurs. It also reveals who sits on the throne of one’s heart. If it’s anger instead of our compassionate, slow to anger God, the siege works will continue. But, even that is His mercy. Getting to the root of anger is one of the keys to spiritual wholeness.

If you know you’re angry, get alone with Adonai and let it out. Read the Psalms. David poured it all out to Adonai, anger and all. Allow Adonai to show you the root behind your rage. Let Him cast out your fears one by one. If pride is the issue, find ways to humble yourself before Adonai and others. Seek to honor people, especially those you think don’t deserve it.

The political climate in America is ripe with tensions meant to make you seethe like a beast in the field. Choose differently. Religious spirits, likewise, have set crafty traps to do the same. Instead of becoming burning mad, exploding like a nuclear bomb, or blasting others with the flame torch of your tongue (or keyboard), be a simple flame of light, like the candles on the Chanukiah. Shine brightly and humbly. Bring warmth, hope, forgiveness, and honor to those in darkness.

Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.  34 “The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  35 “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.  36 “If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

Happy Chanukah and may your tenth month of Tevet be blessed! Learn more about Tevet here.


[1]Dt. 12, 1 Kings 11:36

[2]Learn more about Tammuz and The Three Weeks here.

[3]https://www.sefaria.org/Mishnah_Taanit.4.6?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en retrieved 12/26/19

[4]For a deeper look at this truth, see: The Queen You Thought You Knew by Rabbi David Fohrman. See also Esther’s Mystery Behind the Mask by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.

[5]https://mussarinstitute.org/Yashar/2016-03/mussar_lens.phpretrieved 12/26/19

Categories: Moedim, Mussar, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

In the Beginning: LIGHT

It’s a new year with a renewed Torah cycle. The human soul craves new beginnings, do-overs, fresh starts, and restoration. The Creator knows this well and has built many such renewals into His calendar. We have a renewal every day, week (Shabbat), and month (new moon). Renewals occur at various points throughout each year (moedim), and especially at the new year, in the seven year cycle (Shemittah), and in the fifty year rotation (Jubilee/Yovel).

At the turn of the year (7thmonth), the weekly Torah Portion cycle begins anew with Genesis. This year (5780), is the fifth year of the current Shemittah cycle.[1] As I’ve consulted with others, prayed, and meditated on this upcoming cycle, many things have been on my lev (heart/mind). The creation days in this week’s portion, B’reishit, are the foundation of all things. They especially inform the many other sets of sevens found throughout the Bible.[2]

The year that just went out was a year four, which mirrored day four of creation, the day that natural light from the sun, moon, and stars was separated from the darkness. Their mandate was to rule the day and night, and to be heavenly governors and calendar markers for those that dwell upon the earth. Spiritually speaking, they represent God’s authority of not only creation and man, but of time. What or who governs your clock, calendar, and time? Did you receive “light” on these issues in the previous year?

The Light of the World is Messiah:

John 8:12 (TLV) Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Torah (Law) is Light:

Ps. 119:105 (TLV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Pr. 6:23 (TLV) For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah a light, and corrective discipline the way of life.

Followers of Messiah and His Torah are also Light:

Mat. 5:14-16 (TLV) You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Has the authority that Adonai gave you to be one of His “lights” been challenged? I have certainly witnessed those dead set on hiding the “light” of others in year four with the promise to continue to do so in the fifth year. Light and authority go hand in hand as the proclamation of day four of creation. Challenging authority is challenging Light. Oppressing a brother or sister by denying their authority to be a light to the world is akin to hiding their light.

This has always been the mind and intent of the enemy. His heart is set on enslavement, bondage, and taking captives. His desire to rule, reign, and govern is a false light that is really darkness. He proclaims to be light. He masquerades as light. He proclaims himself holy, righteous, and good. But, he rules by fear and scare tactics. He wants you to be afraid, to question what God has said, and to be fearful to walk in your calling. His focus is to subject, dominate, silence, and make himself the head. (Isaiah 14 – King of Babylon) It seems that we should recognize him easily, but we don’t. Messiah warns that false light is difficult to discern. In fact, it is possible that the light we think we have is really darkness.

Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

The Spirit of Messiah stands in stark contrast to those that seek to oppress and hide the true light. He says:

Luke 4:18-19 (TLV) “The Ruach Adonai is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 and to proclaim the year of Adonai’s favor.”

The body has two eyes, not one. THEY are the lamp of the body. This is akin to the Torah and the Messiah. It is also like a man and a woman as one flesh, the male and female created on day 6. Each is an “eye” in their unity. The man and woman (as echad) should be filled with the Light of Torah and Messiah. This is also the message of day and year four. The Light of the Torah and the Spirit were given on the fourth feast day: Shavuot or Pentecost.

Two eyes and two equal yet different perspectives, like the two tablets and two loaves waved before Adonai on Shavuot. These prepare one to walk properly in the Spirit of Power of day and year five to move rapidly throughout the earth like the birds and fish to spread the Seed (Gospel). If they fulfill their mandate and move within their (wind) currents of purpose, they will be judged favorably in year (day) six.

What are these two eyes on the ONE body (man and wife)? They are the Torah of Chesed (lovingkindness) and the Torah of Emet (Truth). The woman teaches the Torah of Chesed and the man the Torah of Truth. Both are equally important. Hiding or covering one eye partially blinds the body and the family unit. The lamp becomes dim and darkness encroaches. When light is suppressed, the people are oppressed. Praise Adonai that Messiah recovers sight to the blind – both eyes are able to function properly. (Is. 61, Luke 4:18)

Rabbi Sacks has an excellent video explaining the role of men and women as the Torah of Kindness and Truth.[3] I pray it enlightens your Torah cycle this year!

Ps. 118:24-29 (TLV) This is the day that Adonai has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! 25 Hoshia-na! Please, Adonai, save now! We beseech You, Adonai, prosper us! 26 Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai—Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Adonai. We bless you from the House of Adonai. 27 Adonai is God, and He has given us light. Join the festival with branches, up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I praise You. You are my God—I exalt You! 29 Praise Adonai, for He is good, for His lovingkindness endures forever.


[1]Leviticus 25

[2]For an in-depth thematic study of this, see The Creation Gospel: The Foundation Workbook One by Dr. Hollisa Alewine. And, Know the Time, Change Your World by Barry Miller.

[3]Thank you, Barry Miller, for bringing this video to my attention!

Categories: Torah Portions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rosh Chodesh Tishrei 5780 (2019)

Shalom! We’ve reached the seventh Hebrew month, which also marks a full cycle of videos that I’ve completed on the new moons. I pray this month for you is a great blessing, doubly fruitful, and full of joy as you celebrate the appointed times with the King. L’shanah tovah! May you be inscribed for a good and sweet new year in 5780.

Video

Notes

Rosh Chodesh Tishrei Video Notes 2019

Links of Interest at this Season

The Month of Etanim

The Change of the Year

Awake O’Sleeper

The Voice of the Shofar

A Taste of Rosh Hashanah

The Unity of the Scroll

Moedim Main Page

A Woman Will Encompass (Eclipse) a Man

Prophetic Word for the New Year 2020/5780 by Tekoa (Bonnie) Manning

Know the Time, Change Your World: The Reappearance of the Seven- and Fifty-Year Biblical Cycles book by Barry Miller 

7 and 50 Rhymes  (Barry Miller’s Website)

Categories: Moedim, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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