Just like most Jewish synagogues everywhere we read through the Torah each year. The Torah portions are listed here and you will also see a drash(short teaching) from each. As the years and months go on the drash will be more and more complete, we pray it will be a blessing to your life yielding fruit just like Etz Chaim (“Tree of life”). “It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it and happy are those who support it. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace”.
Weekly Parsha by David Friedman, former academic dean of King of Kings College in Jerusalem, holds a Ph.D. in Judaic studies and an M.A. in Arabic.
Author of They Loved the Torah
A well-informed discussion which will help New Covenant believers think about the place of Torah in their lives."
David Stern--author and translator of the Jewish New Testament and Commentary, theComplete Jewish Bible, and other Messianic Jewish books
Our parasha, and our previous one, focus on building the "Mishkan”, the Tabernacle. This was the place where God was present, and the place for worshippers to come and give their offerings to Him. It is interesting that the people had been slaves in Egypt: they were hard-driven makers of bricks, bricklayers and storehouse builders for Pharaoh. They were not schooled or apprenticed in delicate metalwork, artwork or in how to build a Temple for worshipping God. When God instructed the people to build a place for Him to be present, and to be worshipped, how were they to do so? Skilled workmen were lacking. Jewish workmen in Sinai hadn’t been painstakingly trained in the type of handiwork necessary to build the intricate Mishkan. Would the people fail God in these instructions, due to lack of experience, training and education? Was there fear that they couldn’t do what they had been asked to do? Perhaps. But what is wonderful to see is that God took the initiative here:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you...(Ex. 31.1-6, NIV).
God gave gifts in order to help the people fulfill the instructions that He had given to them. He wanted to have the Mishkan built in order to have a place in which to meet with His people face to face and worship Him. And now He would give the technical skills that were necessary in order to build it. Bezalel and Oholiab were endowed by "the Spirit of God” to lead the workers, and to understand how to do the work necessary to fulfill the Torah. So we see that God enabled and gifted people to to carry out His instructions. Again, let us remember that the purpose of the Mishkan was as a huge help to the people of Israel. All told, in both the Mishkan and the gifting of workers, God was making it easier for His people to draw close to Him. Doesn’t this clearly show us what a merciful Father He is?
Perhaps we can draw a further lesson from these six verses. Moses also was concerned that he wasn’t experienced and talented enough to lead his people: Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 4.10-13).
Yet God gave him everything he needed to be a very effective leader, teacher, general and judge. What is the lesson? "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, Who gives to all liberally without finding any fault, and doesn’t withhold” (James 1.5). In building the Mishkan according to design, as well, we learn this same lesson. These verses are very relevant for our lives. Do you ever feel inadequate for the calling upon your life? I often do. I guess we are in good company! Moses and Gideon certainly felt this way. But the best news is that God knows how we feel, and what is needed in our lives to equip us. Just as He did in history, He will continue to do today: to equip us to serve Him.
This week in Israel - PURIM
Yesterday was the holiday of Purim in Israel and today it is celebrated in Jerusalem. For anyone interested, this is because Jerusalem is an ancient walled city. Since Mordecai and Esther’s city (Shushan in Persia) was also walled, it was decided to celebrate Purim on two consecutive days in Jerusalem, just as in Shushan. Thus, Jerusalem’s Purim celebration is called "Shushan Purim”. Children dress up as biblical characters (such as Esther and Mordecai) and march in parades in their neighborhoods. We all pass out treats and sweets to our neighbors, just as was done in Persia some 2,500 years ago.
On Purim we study the book of Esther, which relays the story of Purim to us. The message of Purim is eternal and important to all of us. God’s name is not mentioned once in the book of Esther. And yet, it is He Who clearly makes events occur that saved the Jewish people from genocide. To quote a famous rabbi: "God’s ways are not always obvious. His miracles are often not illuminated by lightning nor punctuated by thunder...no seas split, no heavens roar, no dry bones come to life, but in the truest sense the greatest of all miracles is narrated in the Purim story: It is the miracle of God’s constant supervision and control of events.”
As we study the book of Esther, everyone present "boos” at the mention of Haman’s name, and we read four verses (everyone!) out loud, together. One of them is the last verse of the book: "Mordecai the Jew was second to King Xerxes, and very influential among the Jewish people; he was a popular figure to most of his people, and he sought the good of his nation, speaking peace to all of his descendants” (10.3). Mordecai emerges as one of two heroes in the story. The Hebrew text explains that he tried to help his people be what God created them to be (which would be a God fearing, Torah loving nation), and that he spoke "shalom” to his descendants. What does that mean?
What Mordecai (and Esther) did was brave. They risked their lives. But in order to do so, they both understood that the well-being "shalom” of their people down through history would depend upon what they did...now. Had Haman succeeded in murdering some 2 million Jewish people then in history, it is questionable as to whether there would be a Jewish people today. In this way, the actions of two people partnered with the supervision of God to preserve the nation. And so, Mordecai "spoke shalom” to his descendants. We remembered that during this Purim.