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Parashat Chukat Readings and Video Commentary

Hallel; Numbers 19:1 – 22:1 / Numbers 28:9-15 || Haftara: Isaiah 66

Video Commentary by Rabbi Chaim Richman, The Temple Institute, Jerusalem:

    The Thin Red Line: Parashat Chukat describes so many seemingly unrelated events, yet it is the profound fundamental truth contained in the commandment of the red heifer – para aduma – that ties all these events so tightly together.

Shabbat Shalom

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Parashat Shabbat Shmini Readings and Video Commentary

Leviticus 9:1 – 11:47; 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17

    Video Commentary by Rabbi Chaim Richman of The Temple Institute, Jerusalem:
    We cannot make eternal the holiness of the moment by abandoning ourselves to it. We master and make eternal the holiness of the moment by infusing the minutiae of our everyday lives with holiness. This is the lesson we take away from the untimely deaths of Nadav and Avihu, the holy sons of Aharon:

Shabbat Shalom!

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Shabbat Shmini Readings and Commentary

9:1 – 11:47; Haftara: 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17

Abstract of the Commentary by Michael Schneider, Jerusalem:
This week’s parasha discusses two main issues: The first, the dedication of the Mishkan (tabernacle), which included sacrifices and the cleansing of the priests. In the midst of the “festivities” we read of the sudden death of Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu after offering a “strange fire” before the LORD.

The second part of the parasha speaks about the animals the Israelites were forbidden to eat (11:1–28). One of these animals is the pig, strictly forbidden according to the Word of God. Isaiah also writes of such foods in his chapters of end-time prophecy.

    Video Commentary by Rabbi Richman, Temple Institute, Jerusalem:

“Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens (of idol temples), following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together,’ declares the LORD” (66:17).

We read of a number of contrasts throughout our Torah portions, including holy and unholy, clean and unclean, atoned and those “atonement less”. Our reading concludes with the godly command, “Be holy because I am holy”. It’s our decision will we obey?

The end of this week’s portion found in II Samuel shows us how King David decided that there would be a House of God.

“How can I live in a Villa out of ceders and the ark of God is in a tent?”

We should ask ourselves, how much room are we giving God in our life? Is it worth it? The answer is the same the prophet Nathan gave David.

“Do what your hearts tells you and go for it, because the LORD will be with you!”

Shabbat Shalom!

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Shabbat Vayetze Readings and Commentary

Genesis 28:10–32:3; Hosea 12:13–14:10

Commentary by Michael Schneider, Jerusalem:
Jacob begins his walk with God which was not so easy at the beginning, thus the emphasis is on “And he departed.” He left for a foreign country and place called Haran – far away from his father’s house. It was important that God reassured him of the promise: “…Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…” (28:13-15).

This time it was revealed personally to Jacob through a dream of a ladder connecting heaven and earth and angels of God ascending and descending. It was Jacob’s first personal prayer with the God of his fathers. He said: “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.“

Jacob called the place “House of God,” in Hebrew Beth-El, from here the gates of Heaven were open. At this place, Jacob made a covenant with God: “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey…” he will give Him a tenth of his riches. This became the secret of Jacob’s success!

Again we find in chapter 29 the first meeting of a future wife at a well. He fell in love with his cousin, Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, a shepherd just as he was! This time it was one of Abraham’s clan (Jacob) who watered the animals of Laban’s flock, as Rebekah had done for Abraham’s servant before. We read that “Laban ran toward Jacob” (29:13) – was he expecting more gifts like Eliezer did?

The ways of the LORD are indescribably wonderful. What was Laban’s deceit? He gave him his older daughter to marry after he had promised the younger, Rachel. That should have reminded Jacob of how he deceived his half-blind father Isaac. The older sister and his first wife, Leah, had “weak eyes” (29:17). As Jacob, enraged and disappointed, reacted to the deceit, Laban said: “…It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn.” (29:25-26) Immediately Jacob found himself on the other side of deceit, as he had done to his father, reaping what he sowed! That’s how God work.

Jacob worked another seven years for Rachel. We read: “…and they (the years) seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” (29:20) Now Jacob had two wives and he loved one and hated the other. That’s why the New Testament later recommends, like in 1 Tim. 3:2, to take one wife. God saw the discrimination of man and decided to close Rachel’s womb, the loved one, and open the womb of Leah, the hated one. It was the same with the two wives of Elkanah in 1 Samuel. God is just and merciful.

With her first three sons, Leah tried to win Jacob’s heart (29:32). Rachel adopted the solution of Sarah, Abraham’s wife who gave her handmaid Hagar to her husband. She gave her maid to Jacob so that “she may bear on her knees” (30:3). Eventually “God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb.” Yes, God remembers, hear and act! After the birth of Joseph, Jacob wanted to return to “his place.” And Laban realized “that the LORD has blessed him on Jacob’s account.“ (30:27) May it be a clue for gentiles toward the Jews!

Shabbat Shalom

If you speak German find here an article about who’s God’s People – Gottes Volk

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Shabbat Shlach Lecha Readings and Commentary

Numbers chapters 13:1 – 15:41; Haftara: 2:1-24
by Michael Schneider, Jerusalem

Commentary:
On this Shabbat, we find the story of the 12 spies (Numbers 13:1 – 15:41), the first Mossad. Moses sent the spies to scout the Promised Land.

How many people are there? What are their military capabilities? Is the land fruitful? (13:18-20). Those are legitimate questions that responsible people should and have to know.

Ten spies returned with a negative and frightening report. They confirmed that the land was flowing with milk and honey (13:27), but also warned about the presence of giants (anakim), thus discouraging the people and putting disbelief and fear in their hearts.

Unfortunately, the people in these passages, as most people today do, listened to the majority, the hopeless report of the 10 spies.

The negative report and the people’s acceptance of it brought a harsh punishment: “According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition.” (14:34)

It was probably a huge shock for the people, who were so desperate to enter the Promised Land. The whole generation of the exodus – except for Joshua and Caleb, the two faithful spies – was to die in the desert.

Because of this tragic turn of events caused by man’s tendency to rely on his own understanding, this week’s Torah portion ends with the commandment to wear tzitzit – tassels on the corners of one’s garments – “to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes.” (15:39)

Our eyes must focus on the Word of God, on Him, and not on what’s going on around us. Today we call this living by faith and not by sight!

The word “scouting” that is used in these passages is from the Hebrew word “tar” or “latur,” from which we get the word for tourist (tayar).

May those who live abroad and the tourists who come today to Israel see the Land as Joshua and Caleb saw it – through the eyes of God, in faith, not to be deterred by reports of danger.

Shabbat Shalom

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Shabbat SHMINI and PARA Readings and Video Commentary

Leviticus 9:1 – 11:47 [Para aduma Parasha: Numbers 19];
Haftara: Ezekiel 36:16-38
(in years without Adar II 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17)

    Video Commentary by Rabbi Chaim Richman of The Temple Institute, Jerusalem:

Abstract of the Commentary
by Michael Schneider, israel today, Jerusalem:

This week’s parasha discusses two main issues: The first, the dedication of the Mishkan (tabernacle), which included sacrifices and the cleansing of the priests. In the midst of the “festivities” we read of the sudden death of Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu after offering a “strange fire” before the LORD.

The second part of the parasha speaks about the animals the Israelites were forbidden to eat (11:1–28). One of these animals is the pig, strictly forbidden according to the Word of God. Isaiah also writes of such foods in his chapters of end-time prophecy.

“Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens (of idol temples), following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together,’ declares the LORD” (66:17).

We read of a number of contrasts throughout our Torah portions, including holy and unholy, clean and unclean, atoned and those “atonement less”. Our reading concludes with the godly command, “Be holy because I am holy”. It’s our decision will we obey?

The end of this week’s portion found in II Samuel shows us how King David decided that there would be a House of God.

“How can I live in a Villa out of ceders and the ark of God is in a tent?”

We should ask ourselves, how much room are we giving God in our life? Is it worth it? The answer is the same the prophet Nathan gave David.

“Do what your hearts tells you and go for it, because the LORD will be with you!”

Shabbat Shalom!

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Shabbat Vayetze Readings and Commentary

Genesis 28:10–32:3; Hosea 12:13–14:10

Commentary by Michael Schneider,
israel today, Jerusalem:

Jacob begins his walk with God which was not so easy at the beginning, thus the emphasis is on “And he departed.” He left for a foreign country and place called Haran – far away from his father’s house. It was important that God reassured him of the promise: “…Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…” (28:13-15).

    Here in a song – your Sabbath Song?

read more…

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Parashat Korach Sabbath Commentary

Numbers 16:1 – 18:32; Haftara: Isaiah 66:1–24

Abstract of the Commentary by
Michael Schneider, israel today, Jerusalem:

This Shabbat’s Torah reading is about Korah’s rebellion. Korah descends from the Levitical family of Kehat. Altogether, there were 250 renowned men that “rose up” against Moses by doubting his and Aaron’s authority as the chosen national leaders.
As if the separation of the Levites by God Himself was not enough, this family

within the Levitical tribe did not want to tolerate any human authority. (“Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also?” verses 9-10)

Korah, Dathan and Abiram complain against Moses, but Moses defends God’s decision to appoint Aaron. Moses was not keen on being the only leader of the camp. That became apparent in his reaction to Eldad and Medad when they started prophesying. Moses responded to them: “Would that all the LORD’S people were prophets…” (11:29).

But Moses was not threatened, and even when Korah led his rebellion against him, Moses remained humble and brought the issue before God.
Moses’ humble response was followed by undeniable supernatural justice: “The ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions” (verses 31-32).

God is a God of justice and Moses knew it. When the people murmured again (17:6), God punished them with a plague. Aaron brought an atonement for the sins of the people with an incense offering and stood “between the dead and the living” for the plague to stop.

Subsequently, we read about God’s order to collect the rods of each tribe. The appointment of Aaron was confirmed among the murmuring and rebellious people: “The rod of the man whom I choose will sprout” (17:5). Almonds sprouted on Aaron’s rod! His rod became “a sign against the rebels” and was kept as a reminder.

Shabbat Shalom

The entire story in a small animation film – compare it also to Sabbath Songs above:

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Parashat Shabbat Shlach Lecha Commentary

Numbers chapters 13:1 – 15:41; Haftara: Joshua 2,1-24
by Michael Schneider, israel today, Jerusalem

Commentary:
On this Shabbat, we find the story of the 12 spies (Numbers 13:1 – 15:41), the first Mossad. Moses sent the spies to scout the Promised Land.

How many people are there? What are their military capabilities? Is the land fruitful? (13:18-20). Those are legitimate questions that responsible people should and have to know.

Ten spies returned with a negative and frightening report. They confirmed that the land was flowing with milk and honey (13:27), but also warned about the presence of giants (anakim), thus discouraging the people and putting disbelief and fear in their hearts.

Unfortunately, the people in these passages, as most people today do, listened to the majority, the hopeless report of the 10 spies.

The negative report and the people’s acceptance of it brought a harsh punishment: “According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition.” (14:34)

It was probably a huge shock for the people, who were so desperate to enter the Promised Land. The whole generation of the exodus – except for Joshua and Caleb, the two faithful spies – was to die in the desert.

Because of this tragic turn of events caused by man’s tendency to rely on his own understanding, this week’s Torah portion ends with the commandment to wear tzitzit – tassels on the corners of one’s garments – “to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes.” (15:39)

Our eyes must focus on the Word of God, on Him, and not on what’s going on around us. Today we call this living by faith and not by sight!

The word “scouting” that is used in these passages is from the Hebrew word “tar” or “latur,” from which we get the word for tourist (tayar).

May those who live abroad and the tourists who come today to Israel see the Land as Joshua and Caleb saw it – through the eyes of God, in faith, not to be deterred by reports of danger.

Shabbat Shalom

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Parashat Shabbat BeHalotecha Video Commentary

Numbers 8:1 – 12:16; Zechariah 2,14 – 4,7

Extract:
…And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses. And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them….

Shabbat Shalom

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