Thursday, October 6, 2016

Torah for Everyone! | Shabbat Shuvah | Parashat Vayeilech | Fall Mo'edim Calendar

Shabbat Shuvah 
Parashat Vayeilech

6 Tishrei 5777 | Sabbath of Return and Repentance
Shabbat | 8 October 2016 at twilight to Sunday 
9 October 2016 at twilight

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah — the Sabbath of Return or Repentance. 
Taken from the first word in the Haftarah reading, the name expresses the theme of this season: Shuvah, Return.

Torah: Deuteronomy 31
Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27


During these Yamim Noraimימים נוראים 
the 10 Days of Awe 
from the Feast of Trumpets 
(traditionally known as Rosh Hashanah) 
to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, 
may we seek the LORD 
and turn from any ways 
that trample underfoot His glorious Name 
or the testimony of His holiness. 
Let us rejoice in His gracious forgiveness! 

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob
And unchanging love to Abraham,
Which You swore to our forefathers
From the days of old.
Micah 7:18-20

Fall Mo'edim (Appointed Times of the LORD) Schedule

Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement
10 Tishrei 5777 / Tenth day of the seventh month 
 Twilight 11 October 2016 to Twilight 12 October 2016

This is a special sabbath, and rather than a feast, we are commanded: "deny yourselves," which is traditionally interpreted as a fast.

On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; 
it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD.
“You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God.
“If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, 
he shall be cut off from his people.
“As for any person who does any work on this same day, 
that person I will destroy from among his people.
“You shall do no work at all. 
It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
“It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; 
on the ninth of the month at evening, 
from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”
(Leviticus 23:27-32) 

Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles or Booths
15-22 Tishrei 5777
 Twilight 16 October 2016 to Twilight 23 October 2016
Shmini Atzaret
Twilight 23 October 2016 to Twilight 24 October 2016

The first day of Sukkot is a special Sabbath, as well as the eighth day, known as Shmini Atzeret is a great celebration, calling for rejoicing with the community of faith.

‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.
‘On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind.
‘For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD
it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.
These are the appointed times of the LORD which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire to the LORD—burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each day’s matter on its own day—
besides those of the sabbaths of the LORD, and besides your gifts and besides all your votive and freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.
‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, 
when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate 
the feast of the LORD for seven days, 
with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.
‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, 
and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.
‘You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. 
It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; 
you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
‘You shall dwell in booths (sukkahs) for seven days; 
all the native-born in Israel shall dwell in booths (sukkahs),
so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt.
I am the LORD your God.’”
(Leviticus 23:33-43) 
Torah for Everybody!
Deuteronomy 31

Be Courageous — The LORD goes ahead of you!

Moses is soon to depart this world at one hundred and twenty years of age. He has brought the sons of Israel to their inheritance, yet he will not lead them into their possession. Without bitterness he explains that the LORD told him, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” v. 2

His parting words to the nation are weighty. Moses affirms Israel’s complete victory in the land, telling them, “It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them.” v. 3

And admonishes them, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” v. 6

Joshua’s leadership is confirmed in the sight of all Israel, and he too, is charged, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” v. 8

Torah to Be Read to All Israel Every Sh’mittah at Sukkot

When Moses finished writing this portion of the Torah, he gave it, “to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel,” (v. 9) and commanded the Torah be read to all Israel every seven years at the time of the Sh’mittah, the release of debts, during Chag Sukkot, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles.

Why Every Seven Years?

The joyous Sukkot holiday is an ideal time to read the Torah in the hearing of “all Israel,” as it was one of the pilgrimage festivals — one of the mo’edim when Israel was commanded to go up to Jerusalem. 

Further, it was a celebratory observance lasting eight days, and culminating the rhythm of the year’s appointed times. 

The Sh’mittah, the seventh year was special. It was a year of “release.” Debts were forgiven, Hebrew slaves were given their freedom, and the entire year is a Sabbath rest —for man, animal, and even the land. The sages noted that the Torah was read upon entering this holy year so that the people would be sustained by the mercies of God, whether they found themselves in plenty or hardship, to remain faithful and trust in Him.

Who is “all Israel?”

“ shall read this Torah in front of all Israel in their hearing. 
“Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 

“Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God...”  Deuteronomy 31:11-13
This is quite inclusive! Not just men, not just women… not just grownups … not just genetic descendants of Abraham. 
The word alien — in Hebrew “ger” גָּר — refers to the sojourner, the stranger, foreigners in Israel, a newcomer lacking inherited rights, and even a temporary inhabitant 
The word rendered children — in Hebrew “taph”  טַף — is the word for children of every age: children, little children (toddlers), and little ones (infants).

Torah for Little Ones?

“Their children...will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God...”  v. 13
This is the charge of parents and their highest privilege! Consider how many times and ways God’s Word addresses teaching, correcting, admonishing, and training a child … equating it with love!
In observant Jewish homes, this begins early. Every Friday night is a biblical holy day! The Shabbat (Sabbath) meal is special, planned, set apart. It is the family altar. The father blesses his wife and pronounces blessing upon his children. The Word of God—the weekly parsha—is brought out and the little ones are given a piece of challah—sweet egg bread—dipped in honey, and told, “O taste and see that the LORD is good!” Psalm 34:8

This may be all the youngest understand at first, but it is an important foundation! 

YHVH commands us to diligently teach our children His Words of the Torah in our everyday life. 

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
 and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
 and when you walk by the way,
 and when you lie down, 
and when you rise.”
 Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Not many of us consider this a priority. We want every good thing for our children and think we know how to achieve it—generally through financial security. Yet this rarely brings peace and well-being to our children or our home. They are raised by others in our pursuit of wealth, and their souls and spirits are neglected.
God’s prescription for peace, wholeness, and well-being is found in Isaiah 54:13, All your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” 

The word for peace in Hebrew is שָׁלוֹם shalom. It means: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, health, contentment, prosperity, safety, tranquility, etc.

Wow! What more could we desire for our children?

These are the promises to those who love the LORD, know Him, know His Word, and do it! 

This cannot be gained from any worldly possession.

This cannot be gleaned from putting our children in a separate class during services to make cute arts and crafts based on Bible stories once a week — taught by someone else once or twice a week.

Paul noted that Timothy was raised in a typical Jewish home, learning the Scriptures from home, from his childhood: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation…” 2 Timothy 3:14-15
If we believed God's Word, that our “children are a heritage from the LORD,” (Psalm 127:3) would we be more circumspect in their upbringing? 
...And really believed the promise: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6) Would we not be eager to invest our time ... our lives in our children? 
What investment is more important than directing our children to their Creator and King, from Whom all blessings flow? 
The only source of eternal wisdom enlightens us: 

“When all has been heard, 
the conclusion of the matter is this: 
Fear God and keep His commandments, 
because this is for all humanity.” 
Ecclesiastes 12:13

Haftarah  — Shabbat Shuvah

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah — the Sabbath of Repentance or Return. Our Deuteronomy portion saw Adonai speaking of Israel’s future unfaithfulness and His need to chasten her, even as she stood on the precipice of the great promise. Yet, the love and grace of YHVH is unfathomable. His mercy extends throughout Scripture and across time, beseeching His people:  

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you and return to the LORD.
Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.’”
Hosea 14:1-2

Oh how he loves to pour out His mercy upon the humble and the prodigal when the repentance is genuine, and all-consuming!

The Parable of the Gracious Father

Yeshua told a parable commonly called the “Prodigal Son,” found in Luke 15:11-32, in which a young son squandered all his father had given him — his entire inheritance. He was destitute when he finally came to his senses and realized he had to shuvah, return to his father or he’d die. Humbled and contrite, he intended to offer himself into servitude to his father. However, while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and filled with compassion, ran to him, embraced and kissed him. Not understanding, the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” But the father told his slaves to bring out his best robe and he put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet. He prepared the fattened calf and celebrated, explaining, “for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

What most don’t know, is that this is really the Parable of the Gracious Father! When Yeshua told this story, his Jewish audience knew the story already, however, He added a twist. In the original parable, the son returns and upon seeing his father, he is too ashamed to approach. The father’s love is expressed in that the father tells him, “Just come half way and I will come to meet you.” In Yeshua's parable, the gracious father, ran to his son, embraced and kissed him ... threw his best robe about his son's shoulders, put a ring on his finger (signifying restoration of covenant), restored sandals to his feet, and held a celebration!

Yeshua showed us in His revision how much greater the father’s love (our Heavenly Father’s love) is than we could imagine toward those of contrite heart!

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin
and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Micah 7:18-19

May God richly bless you and yours as you meet with Him in these prophetic times!
His EVERY Word Ministries