Latest Blog Posts

Posted December 9, 2016 - 8:54am

Our parashah begins by telling us, “Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran” (Genesis 28:10). Rashi makes a keen observation on this verse. He asks a question that should be obvious to us: “Why does the Torah mention Jacob’s departure from Beersheba?” If we’ve been paying attention we should remember that the Torah had just mentioned this fact a few verses prior. Verse seven says, “Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram.” Haran is located within the region of Paddan-aram. Therefore, we’ve been told twice within a few sentences that Jacob went toward Haran. If the Torah doesn’t waste words, then why does it repeat itself in this case? Rashi says that we are supposed to learn an important lesson through this repetition. He quotes the midrash by saying:

This tells us that the departure of a righteous man from a place makes an impression, for while the righteous man is in the city, he is its beauty, he is its splendor, he is its majesty. When he departs from there, its beauty has departed, its splendor has departed, its majesty has departed. (Rashi’s reference to and quotation of Genesis Rabbah 68:6)

According to Rashi, the repetition of Jacob’s departure is to teach us “that the departure of a righteous man from a place makes an impression.” When Jacob left Beersheba, his absence was felt. The people in that region missed him terribly and realized that his presence made a difference in their lives. When he was with them there was nothing lacking. Maybe they didn’t necessarily recognize the benefit of his presence while he was with them and only noticed the void when he departed. Nevertheless, once he had left, his absence was palpably felt. The departure of a righteous person should be obviously noticeable.

Posted December 5, 2016 - 7:11am

Note: This Dust of the Master is a revised and updated version of an article from three years ago. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins. (Mark 2:21-22) 

In Part 2 of “Old Disciples, New Disciples,” we took a look at the popular interpretation of these parables to see if it was congruent with Yeshua’s other teachings. We discovered that these parables had nothing to do with the contrast of Christianity against Judaism, as is traditionally taught, and that this interpretation is inconsistent with Yeshua’s emphasis on a return to Torah (repentance) and the coming of the Messianic Era (the Kingdom of Heaven). Let’s now begin to unpack the meaning of these parables.

If we return to the sequence of events in each of the Gospel accounts that we examined at the beginning of our series, we find that these parables are always told in connection to Yeshua’s calling of Matthew Levi. They are Yeshua’s response to the Pharisees’ accusations against his association with “tax collectors and sinners.” Yeshua uses these parables to explain his mission of calling the “sick” rather than calling the “well.” Pirkei Avot, a well-known tractate of the Mishnah, has some interesting parallels that will help us better understand these parables:

Posted December 2, 2016 - 6:57am

Was Isaac really Abraham's son?

This week’s parashah begins with the words, “These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac” (Genesis 25:19). Like parashat Noach, this passage uses the word “generations,” toldot (תולדת) in Hebrew, to begin the story of Isaac’s adulthood. As we had described in the story of Noah, most of the time the word toldot is used in the Torah it is in relationship to genealogy, since its primary meaning is descendants or offspring. However, like we discovered of Noah, sometimes a person’s character or unique traits are listed as their toldot, rather than listing their physical offspring. This is the case again with Isaac. Rather than beginning with the birth of Jacob and Esau, the Torah describes the toldot of Isaac as, “Abraham fathered Isaac.” Why is this?

If we look back just a few chapters previous to parashat Veyeira, we are reminded of an event that happened with Sarah in Genesis 20. When Abraham and Sarah were journeying through his land, Abimelech, king of Gerar, abducted Sarah and took her for himself. He intended on making her either a wife or a concubine. However, the Torah explains that “Abimelech had not approached her” (Genesis 20:4) when God appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him that Sarah was married to Abraham. He explained to Abimelech that “it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her” (vs. 6). Mortified at the thought of taking another man’s wife and paying for it with his life, Abimelech promptly returned Sarah to her husband. After she was returned, Abraham prayed for Abimelech and his household to bear children, because “the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech” (vs. 18).

Posted November 28, 2016 - 7:47am

Note: This Dust of the Master is a revised and updated version of an article from three years ago. Click here to read Part 1.

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins. (Mark 2:21-22) 

In Part 1 of “Old Disciples, New Disciples,” we took note of how the historical and cultural context give us insights into Yeshua’s parables of the Torn Garment and the Wine Skins. In Part 2 we will take a look at the popular interpretation of these parables and see if it is congruent with Yeshua’s other teachings.

According to traditional Christian interpretation, the meaning of these parables seems obvious: Yeshua is chastising the current religious system of his day and showing the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. According to this interpretation, Judaism is the old garment / old wine, whereas Christianity is the new garment / new wine. Yeshua seems to be saying that the old religion of Judaism is being replaced by the new religion of Christianity, and that these two religions are incompatible with one another. This concept seems to be confirmed by Paul in his epistle to the believers in Rome:

Pages

Latest Book Review

The Magerman Edition

Author: Daniel Rose & Jay Goldmintz
Publisher: Koren Publishers
Year: 2014

The Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur is one of the latest in Koren’s growing collection of siddurim (prayer books) geared towards a specific demographic. Koren describes Ani Tefilla as “an engaging and thought-provoking siddur for the inquiring high school student and thoughtful adult.” Koren says that Ani Tefillah has been developed in order “to help the user create their own meaning and connection during the Tefilla [prayer] experience.” The name of the siddur is connected with its objective. Ani Tefilla means “I pray.” 

Welcome

Welcome to Emet HaTorah! We're blessed to have you here! We hope to be an online source for discipleship resources from a Messianic Jewish perspective. If you're new to Emet HaTorah have a look around and enjoy some of our online teaching resources and sign up for our monthly newsletter. You'll be blessed!