Saturday, February 24, 2018


            Image result for feeling pain of others

Excerpt adapted from Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, from blog: Rabbi on a Narrow Bridge

empathy – feeling the pain of others

Our capacity to hold the pain of others is all used up by our own suffering, our own sense of being victims, our own narcissism.

There's no word in Hebrew for empathy, but consider the following mitzvot:
“As for the stranger (ger) in your midst, you shall not wrong or oppress them, for you were strangers (gerim) in the Land of Egypt.”

And again,

“As for the stranger you shall not oppress for you know the soul of a stranger, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.”

The command not to oppress the ger is repeated 34 times in the Tenach.

And it's clear that ger in this context doesn't mean the convert. It means the outsider to the Jewish community who wants to live in the Israelite camp.

This is the way in which empathy functions in Hebrew.

There may be no word for it, but the idea could not be clearer.

We are commanded to feel the pain of the dispossessed, the alone, the widows, the orphans, all of them, because we know the soul of the ger.

And while the Tenach tells us to do many things zecher yitziat mitzrayim (in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt) – as a response to our own redemption from pain, the thing we are told most often is to take care of those who find themselves as “strangers”.

While empathy might be seen as merely an emotional response the Rabbis, their eye for concrete action takes the general terms 'wrong' and 'oppress' and renders them even more explicitly as commands not to wrong with words and not to oppress with financial opportunism.

One ancient Aggadah even looks at the placement of this verse, next to a command to avoid idol worship to suggest that one who oppresses a ger by demeaning their belief system is deemed to have committed the great sin of avodah zarah (foreign worship) themselves.

It turns out that to be a true survivor of the experiences of our faith we have to look beyond our own people.

As tired as we may be, as hurt as we may be.

The command is clear – but it is not a command to feel empathy – we can be reminded of what we might have forgotten – ki gerim hiyitem (do not oppress the ger)– but the command is to action.

To hear the voice of those who suffer from lack of identity, a mindset of poverty, and emotional woundedness we once (and possibly still do) suffered from, and to come along side them to elevate their condition, is the highest duty of the Jew succinctly stated in the mitzvah:

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

You are dust!

I heard someone talking about the "fall" of man and how G-d called Adam "dust".
Ouch! I thought to myself. How thou art fallen, O Image if G-d!

Having recently found the wonders hidden in the Hebrew Letter Pictures, I looked up the word for "dust".
Aphar, Ayin-Peh-Resh
As if G-d was saying, You see, you speak, and that is all you know!
What's missing?
Rabbi Shaul said, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word (Torah) of G-d.
Moses said, Hear, O Israel, the L-rd, your G-d is One!
To hear G-d is to know G-d.
To not hear G-d is to be dust.
Dust you are, and unto dust you shall return!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Four Days....

Image result for building a sukkah

There are four days between the end of Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Those four days always seem to overtake me!  This year a Sabbath and an outing with one of my sons consumed more of the sukkah-building time. I wondered if I would even complete it on time.

For me, the building of a sukkah is not only the completion of a mitzvah (commandment), but an act of faith for the coming year. The sukkah, a temporary dwelling place, represents my House, my family.
Two years ago I first experienced faith-building of my sukkah.  My family was in crisis and I was compelled to build it anyway in faith that we would survive. We have, though there have been some painful absences.

This year the High Holy Days came just as quickly. We were already into the month of Elul, the countdown to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and I was jarred from my slumber. My life was not where it should be. I knew from years past that this season is one of discovery and I needed to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily beset me!

So I did, I made a plan, took action, turned around. I went without. The season of the yetzer hara ie. the season of deception had run its course. I was awake now and was vigilant again. There was still discovery, there always will be, but if I am already turned around, I can better face the ones I've hurt.

I built my sukkah with a clean conscience. It received from me an off-plumb frame. The painter's tarps I use for walls would cover its flaws. But I would know. Those inside would know. Even the tarps had seen their day with weathered stains from Sukkots gone by. Effective as a covering, but nothing covered the covers!

We ate dinner in the sukkah that evening, and only one was missing, her absence keenly felt. We moved aside the tables and chairs so my girls' could claim the first night, then sanctified this Sabbath of Sukkot, the Birthday of King Messiah.

There are always many lessons to be learned in this a Season of Our Joy, the Feast of Ingathering.

I cannot by decree, action, or will power have life on my terms, but I can build my sukkah, as is, in faith that the Lord will build my house, and that I have not labored in vain!

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Lord of the Sabbath

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After seeing that the Sabbath Queen is the redeemed Gentiles and Jews from all nations, I turned to look at the groom, the Lord of the Sabbath.
The story begins in Luke chapter 6. The disciples of Yeshua, are harvesting heads of wheat, rubbing them between their hands, and eating the kernels as a snack. The Pharisees classified this as work. Yeshua responded, pointing to the story of King David in 1 Samuel 21:6 where David and his men eat the showbread of the Tabernacle.
The 12 loaves of showbread were placed on the Table of Showbread every Sabbath. On the next Sabbath they were replaced, and according to Leviticus 24:5-9, they were given to the Levites for food.
John comments that Yeshua was declaring that as David was Lord of the Sabbath, he, Yeshua was also.
The Sabbath is a prequel of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, therefore David, as King, and Messianic progenitor, could eat the shewbread prepared on the Sabbath for the King.
Yeshua, as the Messianic King, of course, could partake of the sabbath meal!

The Sabbath Queen

I was discussing with a friend how we greet the Sabbath like a queen.
Rabbi Chanina said, Let us go out to greet the Sabbath Bride, Queen!
The Shulchan Aruch says, 
One should rejoice in the arrival of Shabbos as one who goes out toward the King and as one who goes out toward a bride and a groom.
I know the church at large has esteemed itself as the Bride of Messiah, but I was hung up on the terminology, AS a bride. Adding to my confusion was the clear vision of John in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, where he sees the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven. The angel said he would show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
No one believed the Church was the New Jerusalem! (Until now)
I also believe that the Church is the Body of Messiah, how could we be the groom and the bride?
Hence the Mystery of Oneness, but that is a future post!
In my previous post I showed that the new birth happens in heaven, in Zion/New Jerusalem. 
So now, back to the Sabbath Queen or bride. 
What is the Sabbath, but a day of rest? The Book of Hebrews says, He that has entered his rest has ceased from his own works as God did from His. 
We then Beloved, are living in the rest provided by Yeshua our Messiah.
We are the bride, the Sabbath Queen, a symbol of the Shabbat and the ultimate Sabbath, the Messianic Age, when we will reign with him from the New Jerusalem!
Therefore, let us prepare ourselves, ridding ourselves of uncleanness, so that we may be without spot or wrinkle, immersed in Him, ready!

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him!
For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready!

Born in Zion

I heard a Chuck Missler radio broadcast where he was explaining Psalm 87:5 from the translated Septuagint:
A man will say, Zion is my mother. (This man was born in her.) So He, the Most High, will build her up.
The Psalm goes on to say that those who claim Zion/Jerusalem as their birthplace are from the nations. (Zion is a hill in Jerusalem, the terms are used interchangeably in scripture)
Paul says in Galatians 4:26 that, the Jerusalem that is our mother"
Hebrews 12:22 says, But you are come unto Mount Zion and to the City of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem....
So then we see these Gentiles are born in the Heavenly Jerusalem! Born again as Yeshua relates to Nicodemus in John chapter three.
Paul was born in a Roman provincial city, Tarsus. He therefore had all the rights of a Roman citizen, including the right to appeal to Caesar, which he did.
A person born in the Heavenly Zion/New Jerusalem has all the rights of that kingdom, the Kingdom of God!
Let us therefore, brothers and sisters, fellow citizens with the saints, humbly walk as ambassadors of that Kingdom, inviting whosoever-will into our Father's Kingdom to enjoy the rights and benefits of His dominion!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Empty Sukkah

Image result for sukkah

Here we are in the middle of Sukkot and I am away from my sukkah helping a relative move across the state. I had originally imagined various ushpuzim (guests) invited night to night and all the fun we would have. I traditionally spend at least one night in the sukkah with my boys and I am hoping that is to come.
This year as I made it through the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) I contemplated the judgments of G-d and the seasons He ordains through His appointed times to quicken us to spiritual realities and address sins, open and hidden in our lives. I did not expect that a sin I had hidden many years ago would be revealed much to my shame and to the distress of my family and some friends, my shame made bare to all.
I knew there were things I needed to address, but I thought I could handle it. It wasn't that bad, was it? My Ezer Kenedgo (help-meet) had stated dire consequences if I did not address the slips of my heart.  Much to my dismay, as already stated, revelations from the past exposed me, and all I stand for was questioned and discarded by those I sought to guide, lead and bring up.
I built my sukkah with all this in mind. I was driven to do so. Not because it would be filled in the Season of Our Joy with friends and family, but in faith I built up this tabernacle that it might represent my own house that was threatened by destruction.
As Torah lovers know, our Messiah was born on the first day of Sukkot, the Word of G-d tabernacling in flesh, being found in fashion as a man, humbled.
As I walk into the New Year naked, ashamed and humbled, I am depending solely on the Indwelling Messiah to save my family and myself. I have no other hope, Come Lord Yeshua! Quickly!