Tag Archives: DHE gospels

May He Calm Our Storms

Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do their work in great waters. They have seen the deeds of Hashem, and His wonders in the watery deep. He spoke and raised the stormy wind and lifted its waves. They rise heavenward, they descend to the depths, their soul melts with trouble. They reel, they stagger like a drunkard, and all their wisdom is swallowed up. Then they cried out to Hashem in their distress, and He would take them out from their straits. He would halt the storm to restore calmness, and their waves were stilled. And they rejoiced because they were quiet, and He guided them to their desired boundary. Let them give thanks to Hashem for His kindness, and His wonders to the children of man. Let them exalt Him in the assembly of people, and praise Him in the session of the elders.

Psalm 107:23-32 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

He went down to the boat, and his disciples went down with him. There was a great storm on the sea, to the point where the waves would cover the boat, but he was sleeping. His disciples approached him and woke him, saying, “Save us, our master. We are perishing!” He said to them, “Small ones in faith, why are you afraid?” He got up, reprimanded the winds and the sea, and there was a great silence. The men were amazed and said, “Who is he, then, that even the winds and the sea listen to him?”

Matthew 8:23-27 (DHE Gospels)

I wonder if, at any point after Yeshua (Jesus) ended the storm, did the disciples think of the portion of Psalm 107 that I quoted above? When I read that psalm as part of my devotionals last Shabbat, I immediately thought of the passage from Matthew 8. But as I made the connection from earlier to later in the Bible, I wondered if the first century Jewish readers of the Gospel of Matthew, when coming upon the sequence where the Master caused the storm to cease…if they saw the relationship between these events in scripture and connected the acts of Jesus with the acts of Hashem, the God of Israel? Could this linkage have been intentional on Matthew’s part? Did he leave a rather obvious (if you’re a first century Jew) clue as to the Master’s identity and nature here to which we Christians, nearly twenty centuries later, would be oblivious?

If so, then it wouldn’t be the first time.

Last summer, I wrote a review of a sermon given by First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) Founder and President Boaz Michael that he presented some years earlier which he titled “Moses in Matthew”. You can read my review The Jewish Gospel, Part 1 and Part 2 for the details. But it seems to me, perhaps thanks to the Spirit of God (and hopefully not because of my own wishful thinking), that I have made one of those little links in scripture that are so “Jewish” and that further establish the Bible as a single, unified document. I believe this is another example that the Bible is the complete Word of God, a revelation that we can accept as a total and seamless gift, not something to be sliced and diced as Christianity sometimes does, so that the Bible artificially points to an earlier God and a later Jesus, as if the two have almost nothing to do with one another, as if the Old Testament and the New Testament form two separate plans of God in how He will be among His people, and as if God changed His mind on who He decided His people were to be.

God speaks to us from the Bible. The Spirit of God whispers to us as we read. Most of the time, we aren’t even conscious of His presence, but every so often, something “clicks” as it did for me last Shabbos.

May God continue to graciously open our eyes and ears and minds to His Word and reveal the face of Messiah to those of us who call ourselves disciples, and to all to cry out to God for mercy and compassion. May He calm our storms that we too may give thanks and rejoice, and that we might declare the Name of God as great among our assemblies.

Amen.

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The Jewish Gospel, Part 2

studying-talmudBut the way Boaz teaches this lesson teaches us something about Biblical sufficiency. The idea of sufficiency is that the Bible is all that we need to understand the Bible. That’s not exactly true. While the plain meaning of the text does teach us something about Jesus and who we are as Christians, an understanding of early Jewish thought, writings, and midrash, shows us that the text contains a deeper meaning, one that would elude us if we ignored the extra-Biblical understanding of how an early Jewish audience would have comprehended these verses and associated them with other parts of the Bible. Sola scriptura isn’t quite the beginning and end of how we can understand the Word of God.

We may call the Bible “sufficient” and it is, but it can be more “complete” only when we reinsert the Jewishness of its overall context and include both Jewish perspective and Jewish midrashic thought into our understanding.

That is some of my commentary from yesterday’s morning meditation (If you haven’t done so already, please click the link and read part 1 before continuing here) based on First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) founder and director Boaz Michael’s “Moses in Matthew” presentation. The original lecture series is a couple of years old, but it was recently released on audio CD and I’ve had the opportunity to listen to this teaching. I learned a few things from this lecture and by sharing some of it, I hope you can learn a few things, too.

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31 (NRSV)

It’s interesting that Matthew’s rendition of this event (Matthew 22:36-40) doesn’t include a more direct reference to the Shema. Many Christians imagine that Jesus replaced the 613 commandments of the Torah (though the Torah wouldn’t be formally codified in this manner for many centuries after the resurrection) with just two, thus substituting grace for the law. But that’s not how it would have sounded to Messiah’s original Jewish audience.

In yesterday’s blog post, I related the part of Boaz’s teaching illustrating how the Master (or any Jewish teacher in those days) could quote from just a single verse in a Psalm or other portions of the Tanakh (Old Testament), and his audience would immediately recall the full text of the part of scripture to which he was referring, connecting the teaching to the much wider body of words and imagery. When Jesus taught about the two greatest commandments and in Hebrew said, “Shema Yisrael” (Hear O Israel), the people listening wouldn’t have just thought of Deuteronomy 6:4-7, but to the rest of the content of that chapter as well as Deuteronomy 11 and Numbers 28 which also are part of the Shema. The reason the Pharisee who was an expert in the law agreed with Jesus so strongly is because he not only agreed with the interpretation of the immediate text under discussion, but the wider implications of how Jesus was presenting and teaching the Shema and Torah as good news and hope to Israel.

And again, Christians tend to miss this point, especially since we are (most likely) reading the text in English and not viewing it with a Jewish mindset. But the further importance of the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels being presented at the same time as Boaz’s teaching is that “retro-translating” the Greek back into a “Hebrew voice,” allows for a more “Jewish” reading of this lesson, giving us a closer look at how the ancient Jewish listeners were hearing and understanding Jesus. Even reading the Gospels in Greek would still “miss” what the ancient Jews were hearing when Jesus taught.

We can see a further connection here:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.

Matthew 7:24 (NRSV)

The two greatest commandments do not replace the Torah nor do they really condense the Torah. This teaching actually unpackages the meaning of the Shema and defines any Jewish person who has faith in God and who is zealous for the Torah to be both hearers and doers of the Word and will of God.

That’s a lot to pull out of a short discussion between Jesus and a legal expert.

the-teacherBut Boaz’s teaching is called “Moses in Matthew” and in referencing Matthew chapters 1 and 2, he says that it was the Apostle’s intent to mirror the birth and childhood narratives of Jesus with Moses. That may not be immediately obvious to the Christian reader, which is why lectures such as this one are so important.

I won’t go into all of the details (since my notes are limited) but making the connection requires some knowledge of Jewish midrash (Maybe books such as those written by Daube and Lachs would help) about the early life of Moses and his parents, information that isn’t available in the Bible (and Bible sufficiency proponents will likely struggle at this point). But Jesus’s audience would have been aware of some form of the midrashim connected to the early life of Moses, and when reading how Matthew wrote about the early life of Jesus, Boaz believes Matthew’s audience would be saying to themselves, “I’ve heard this story before.”

As an aside, I just read Dr. Michael L. Brown’s review of David Klinghoffer’s book Why the Jews Rejected Jesus in which Dr. Brown writes the following:

Klinghoffer fails to grasp the depth of Matthew’s hermeneutic (along with the hermeneutic of other NT authors), noting, “Pointing out the imprecision of proof texts like these, one feels almost unsporting. It’s too easy” (66). To the contrary, as top Matthew scholars have observed, “Matthew was not above scattering items in his Greek text whose deeper meaning could only be appreciated by those with a knowledge of Hebrew. Indeed, it might even be that Matthew found authorial delight in hiding ‘bonus points’ for those willing and able to look a little beneath the gospel’s surface.”3 At times it is clear that Klinghoffer simply failed to get the NT author’s point (see again 66, citing Matt 2:23 and Isa 11:1).

Boaz Michael’s perspective on Matthew’s Gospel is not in isolation. Now to continue with the main portion of my missive.

Please keep in mind that the point isn’t whether or not midrash is literally true. It probably isn’t. But the cultural context of the midrashim and what it means to a Jewish audience is what connects and binds the interpretive stories about Moses to the stories Matthew was telling about the young Jesus and his family.

Boaz went on in his teaching to compare the temptation accounts in Luke 4 and Matthew 4. They’re not the same. Matthew includes specific details that Luke leaves out, such as the Master fasting for forty days and forty nights. That specific time period (as opposed to just forty days) is mentioned only four times in the Bible, and three of those events are related to fasts (Elijah’s fast is one of them). How could Matthew’s readers not associate Jesus’s fast in the wilderness with that of Moses on the Mountain with God. It is further said in midrash that Moses dined on the bread of angels on the Mountain (somewhat contradicting that he was fasting) and in Matthew’s account of the temptation, the Adversary said that Jesus could command stones to become bread.

The order of the temptations is reversed from Luke to Matthew, with Matthew’s account presenting Jesus being taken to a high mountain and shown all the nations as the last temptation. Just before Moses’s death, God took him to a high mountain and showed him all of the nation of Israel.

(You might be thinking that these comparisons aren’t very strong, but it’s the way Matthew is writing his entire Gospel that provides the complete illustration of Messiah and Moses. The Gospels differ from each other, not because the Gospel writers were inconsistent, but because they each had a different emphasis on Messiah to present, like four different artists each painting a different portrait of Messiah. Same guy but different styles and interpretations.)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain…

Matthew 5:1

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him…

Matthew 8:1

In between these two events, Yeshua (Jesus) delivered what has come to be called “the Sermon on the Mount.” It might surprise you to hear that Boaz believes Jesus going up the mountain and then coming back down can be compared to Moses going up to receive the Torah and coming back down. That probably sounds a little thin to you, but consider the function of the sermon itself. It’s been called the greatest distillation of the Torah. Moses ascended the mountain to receive the Torah and descended to deliver it to Israel. Jesus ascended the mountain to teach the Torah and descended when he had finished.

Also, when Moses descended, he encountered the faithless Children of Israel worshiping the Golden Calf. When Jesus descended, he encountered a leper (actually, a Jewish man with a form of “spiritual skin disease”) who through faith was made clean of his disease. There’s a “mirror effect” being created between Moses and Jesus by Matthew for his readers.

Now here’s something really interesting.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

Matthew 5:17-18

Torah at SinaiAnyone involved in either the Messianic Jewish or Hebrew Roots groups for more than five minutes will recognize this passage as the core message of those two movements. Yes the Torah will pass away, but not until Heaven and Earth pass away. Now here’s the really cool part.

Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Matthew 24:34-35

The words of the Torah will pass away at some point in the future, but Messiah says that his words will never pass away.

The Torah is greatly praised both in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and in the New Testament but if you study the Torah, a great deal of its content has to do with daily living in Israel, daily human living on earth. All of that will eventually fade away after a long, long period of time.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelation 21:22-27

With no temple currently existing in Jerusalem, most Christians think the Torah has already been done away with and been replaced by Christ’s grace, but I believe another temple will be built. It would be impossible to observe the laws related to the temple without the Torah being in effect for the Jewish people. We know that the Gentile nations will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem to observe Sukkot every year in the Messianic Era. Again, observing the festival requires a temple in Jerusalem and the laws of the Torah for temple worship. Jesus said the Torah will be with us as long as there are a heaven and earth. Eventually there will be no Torah and no Temple, but we aren’t there yet. But even when we get there, the words of the Lamb will remain, for they are eternal.

All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

Psalm 86:9, 11

I’ve said in today’s “meditation” as I’ve said many times before, that the Torah remains and functions. It remained and functioned after Christ’s ascension and in the days of James, Peter, and Paul. In order for prophesy to be fulfilled, the Torah needs to remain in force for the Jewish people until all has been completed and as long as there is a heaven and an earth.

But if you’re a Christian reading this, you’re probably wondering what that means to you. Even if you’re willing to accept the continued authority of the Torah for the Jewish people (a big “if” for many Christians), what does it have to do with a believer who isn’t Jewish?

There’s a great deal in even a surface reading of the Torah that has to do with a Christian living a holy life. All of the principles upon which we live a life of faith are from Torah; caring for the disadvantaged, feeding the hungry, comforting the widow, helping a neighbor, visiting the sick…these are all from Torah and they all apply to Christians today.

Boaz said that the heart of discipleship is to study the teachings of our Master and to apply those parts of the teachings that directly connect to us to our daily living. Remember, Jesus primarily taught to Jewish audiences who were perceiving his teachings from a Jewish worldview. Paul was the primary agent responsible for taking those Jewish teachings and crafting them in a manner “digestible” to a God-fearing Gentile audience.

The first discourse Paul gave at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:13-43) was a teaching of Jesus the Messiah as the culmination of Jewish history condensed (and most likely summarized by Luke) by the Apostle and presented to Jewish and God-fearing Gentile listeners. Their response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

messiah-prayerBut as time passed, the message of the good news of Messiah became increasingly “Gentilized” and eventually divorced from its Jewish context. Even those Christian scholars who can read the New Testament in the Greek can easily miss the “Hebrew voice” of the Apostles and thus lose a great deal of their intent and meaning.

Which is why teachings such as this one given by Boaz Michael are important. It’s why studying midrash and Jewish thought are exceptionally helpful in augmenting our understanding of the Bible.

The value of the Messianic Jewish and Hebrew Roots movements for non-Jewish believers is to teach us the Torah and how to read it in relation to the New Testament scriptures. It’s to help us filter the Bible through the eyes of Jewish thinkers, writers, and sages. It’s to encourage us to think outside the traditional Christian “box,” not to turn us into quasi-Jewish people, but to define and illuminate the Christian relationship to the Jewish people, the chosen ones of God, and thus to Messiah himself, the first-born son of Israel.

If you are intrigued but unfamiliar with the perspectives I’ve been discussing in yesterday’s and today’s blog posts, I encourage you to go to First Fruits of Zion and see what else they have to offer. As a fellow Christian and student of the Bible, I’ve found many of their materials invaluable in my own exploration of my faith.

Who is the Jewish Jesus and how does a “Jewish” understanding of the scriptures make us better Christians? It’s a journey I hope you’ll join me on as we investigate this “undiscovered country,” including the Jewish Gospel of Matthew.

The Jewish Gospel, Part 1

620_moses-in-matthewLast night, the new MJTI Interfaith Center in Beverly Hills hosted a seminar on the Gospels with special guest, Boaz Michael, the founder and director of First Fruits of Zion.

The two-hour seminar introduced many of the typologies throughout Matthew to Yeshua’s “Moses-like” fulfillment. The Gospels are composed in a thoroughly Jewish manner and need to be understood within that context to fully see what and why things take place and are said. The Moses in Matthew seminars are currently being offered at various locations and if you have the opportunity to attend one of these seminars, definitely do it! I found myself not only intellectually engaged and enlightened, but spiritually encouraged by this discussion.

-Rabbi Joshua Brumbach
“Moses in Matthew”
Yinon Blog

I acquired an audio CD of this presentation from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) through the FFOZ Friends program and have been meaning to review it for awhile now. It’s hard for me to sit still and listen to a recorded audio lecture, but I took my wife’s portable CD player outside and, as I weeded in the back yard, allowed my mind to be illuminated by Boaz Michael’s teaching while my body took care of the home that God has graciously provided. I learned a few things. I’d like to pass them along to you (and I apologize if I got anything in Boaz’s presentation not quite right…it’s tough to take notes while weeding).

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.

Deuteronomy 18:15 (NRSV)

According to Boaz’s teaching, the Gospel of Matthew was written specifically for a Jewish audience and was probably the only one of the Gospels originally written in Hebrew (although the Hebrew original is lost to us). The words of Moses quoted above foretell of a prophet greater than Moses who would one day rise up from among Israel. This prophet would be Messiah and he would also be a King and do many great signs and wonders. Messiah would be known by the prophesies he would tell and he would lead Israel back to faithfulness in the Torah.

In Matthew and the other synoptic gospels, it was asked if Yeshua (Jesus) was the prophet, but in John’s gospel, it was declared that he was (and is) the prophet.

Boaz tied his teaching to the release of the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels (this was a few years back) and he described at length the history of Franz Delitzsch and his mission to “retro-translate” the Greek language of the Gospels back into Hebrew. This doesn’t restore the “Hebrew text” but it does provide the “original voice,” the Hebrew voice of the gospels and the gospel writers.

That’s an important point to get because the focus of Boaz’s “Moses in Matthew” teaching is to be able to read Matthew the way a Jewish person would have read it during the early days of the Jewish religious movement “the Way.”

Boaz said something I consider very important (paraphrasing): “Every translation is really a commentary.” I know my own Pastor has said that we need to be able to understand the Bible in its original languages and within its own context in order to gain an objective understanding of what God is trying to say. My counter argument is that any translation imposes a certain set of assumptions being made by the translator so that interpretation doesn’t begin after translation but during translation. It’s at this point when we also start making connections from one text in the Bible to another and deciding what those connections mean.

And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a twig shall grow forth out of his roots. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears.

Isaiah 11:1-3 (JPS Tanakh)

The people of Nineveh will stand in judgment of this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the call of Yonah. But look! One greater than Yonah is here. The queen of Teiman will stand in judgment of this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Shlomoh. But look! One greater than Shlomoh is here.

Matthew 12:41-42 (DHE Gospels)

shlomo-hamelechThese verses tell a Jewish audience (and hopefully the rest of us) something about the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon the Messiah, Son of David, and he shall be wise and understanding and knowledgeable, more so than Solomon. The idea is that Messiah isn’t just like Moses the Prophet, David the King, and Solomon the Wise, but he is greater than all of those. The Hebrew word translated as “delight” from the passage in Isaiah actually is better translated as “sense,” giving the idea of sense of smell, so it is like Messiah can sense, almost “smell out” the truth.

While a general audience can “get” the meaning of all this, it would, according to Boaz, have been quite a bit more obvious to a Jewish audience in the days of Matthew and in fact, it was Matthew’s intent to write in a manner that would demonstrate Messiah to them in a uniquely Jewish way. The gospels, and especially Matthew’s, are considered the greatest Jewish story ever told, if we just know how to properly read it.

Here’s another Jewish story:

During the fourth watch, Yeshua came to them, walking on the surface of the water. His disciples saw him walking on the surface of the sea and were terrified. They said, “It is the appearance of a spirit!” and they cried out in fright. Yeshua called to them, “Be strong, for it is I. Do not fear!”

Matthew 14:25-27 (DHE Gospels)

The full text of this event is in Matthew 14:22-33. You probably think you know everything there is to know about this story, including Peter’s brief ability to also walk as long as he kept his eyes on the Master.

But to an ancient Jewish audience, it says so much more.

When God began to create heaven and earth — the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water…

Genesis 1:1-2 (JPS Tanakh)

The Hebrew word translated as “wind” can also be translated as “spirit,” thus we understand that it was the spirit from God that was hovering over the water.

This is the part where you have to “think Jewishly” and moreover, to have access to popular Jewish writings and teachings that are now collected in a large number of written works but at the time Matthew was writing his gospel, were more likely conveyed through oral tradition in less refined forms.

Boaz states in his presentation that according to Midrash Rabbah, it was the spirit of Moshiach (Messiah) that hovered over the waters. We know (and Matthew’s Jewish audience would have known) that from Isaiah 11:1-3 the spirit from God rested upon Moshiach. We know from Matthew 3:16-17 that the spirit came from God “like a dove” and rested on Jesus.

According to midrash, whose spirit hovered over the water? The Spirit of Moshiach. Putting all this together, the Messiah “hovering” or “walking” over the water would have summoned an immediate connection between that event and Moshiach’s Spirit hovering over the waters at creation.

This is also an indication that Messiah is greater than Moses. Moses’s name indicates one who was saved or drawn from water. We also know of Moses, through the power of God, splitting the Reed Sea (yes, that’s “Reed Sea.” “Red Sea” is a poor translation) and walking at the bottom of the sea with the water over him. Yeshua is greater because he is over the water as was his spirit at creation.

Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen.

Psalm 77:19 (NRSV)

walking_on_waterThis verse seems to reference Moses but it is also Messianic because footprints are “unseen” when someone is walking on top of water. Also water, in ancient Jewish thought, represents chaos. In the story of creation, God “binds” and limits the great waters with shores. Yeshua is above the chaos and Matthew telling this story as he does, is declaring to his Jewish audience that Jesus is the Messiah from creation. For the rest of us, his message is that the good news of Moshiach is “first to the Jews.” It is the story of Jewish good news.

But the way Boaz teaches this lesson teaches us something about Biblical sufficiency. The idea of sufficiency is that the Bible is all that we need to understand the Bible. That’s not exactly true. While the plain meaning of the text does teach us something about Jesus and who we are as Christians, an understanding of early Jewish thought, writings, and midrash, shows us that the text contains a deeper meaning, one that would elude us if we ignored the extra-Biblical understanding of how an early Jewish audience would have comprehended these verses and associated them with other parts of the Bible. Sola scriptura isn’t quite the beginning and end of how we can understand the Word of God.

There’s another message here according to Boaz. In his presentation, he was addressing a traditionally Christian audience, one who was just becoming involved in FFOZ’s HaYesod program. Historically in the Messianic Jewish and Hebrew Roots movements (and I can attest to this personally), there’s been a tendency for Gentile believers to become enamored with the Torah to the exclusion of the rest of the Bible. It has tended to “defocus” Gentile believers involved in either of these movements from the Gospels and from the Messiah. Just as the Gospels don’t replace Moses and the Torah, Moses and the Torah don’t replace Jesus and the Gospels. The Gospels require the Torah to illustrate and validate the message of Messiah but always remember, the Messiah is the Prophet, the one who is greater than Moses.

But there’s more in Matthew that teaches us about Messiah:

They remained there until the death of Hordos, fulfilling the word of HaShem through the prophet, sayings, “Out of Mitzrayim I called my son.”

Matthew 2:15 (DHE Gospels)

This is a direct reference to the following:

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.

Hosea 11:1 (JPS Tanakh)

Modern Jewish commentators cry “foul” at Matthew’s application because Hosea is clearly referring to Israel the nation as God’s son, not the Messiah. But the heart of Jewish interpretation and application is taking scripture and applying it differently to other circumstances. This also does something special that I completely agree with. Matthew is creating a one-to-one equivalency between Israel and Messiah. Messiah is not only the Son of God, but the living embodiment of the nation of Israel; the Jewish people. Moshiach is Israel’s first-born son.

Yeshua spoke all these things in parables to the crowd of people, and other than parables, he did not speak to them at all, fulfilling what the prophet spoke, saying, “I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter riddles from ancient times.”

Matthew 13:34-35 (DHE Gospels)

This compares to the following:

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old.

Psalm 78:2 (NRSV)

But here we learn something else. Typically, a Christian will understand that Matthew 13:34-35 is relating back to Psalm 78:2. In a Bible study on the verses from Matthew, a Christian teacher would probably include a reference specifically to Psalm 78:2 rather than the entire content of that Psalm. But from a Jewish writer’s point of view, he intends for his audience to read or hear that portion cited from Matthew and to recall all of the Psalm.

bet_midrash_temaniPsalm 78 as a whole, describes the repeating cycle of Jewish faithfulness and unfaithfulness, faithfulness and unfaithfulness to God. Matthew wants his audience to “get” this point and associate it with Yeshua as Messiah and that Messiah has come to restore Israel’s faithfulness to God.

Again, if we just isolate and link Matthew 13:34-35 and Psalm 78:2, we miss the larger message Matthew is transmitting to his Jewish readership. We may call the Bible “sufficient” and it is, but it can be more “complete” only when we reinsert the Jewishness of its overall context and include both Jewish perspective and Jewish midrashic thought into our understanding.

I’m going to split this teaching into two posts for the sake of length. There are other important parts to what Boaz Michael spoke that I don’t want to miss or gloss over. Part 2 will be in tomorrow’s “morning meditation.”

Conversations With My Companion

Question: I spent quite a bit of time praying for someone who was very ill. Many people came together to pray for this person yet she unfortunately passed away. How can we say then that a prayer is never unanswered? Obviously in this case and in many others the prayers of so many people have not been answered. How can we have absolute faith in G-d if He doesn’t spare the life of someone who so many prayed for? I understand that belief in G-d is fundamental to our religion but I just wish to understand this. I have also heard many answers before. For example G-d does everything for a reason and one can’t see the whole picture. I was wondering if you had a different answer as this one doesn’t fully answer my question.

Answer: The first thing to understand is that prayer – no matter how sincere and intense – can never be guaranteed to produce results. Think about it: if all prayers were rewarded, wouldn’t that make us gods, and God nothing more than our slave? Think about this, too: are we really so sure that we know enough of the universe’s workings to be sure that what we’re asking for is really the very best thing for everyone? Isn’t it wiser to place ourselves in God’s gentle and powerful hands; to rely on His judgment?

This, in effect, is what King David’s general, Yoav, was saying on the eve of a very dangerous battle (II Samuel, 10:12) with the words: “Be strong and sure for our people and for the cities of the Lord our God, and the Lord will do what is best in His eyes.” So what then is the purpose of prayer?

-Rabbi Boruch Clinton
from “Belief in G-d and Unanswered Prayers”
JewishAnswers.org

Good question and one that doesn’t offer an easy answer. Some people don’t find an answer at all, and the result is that they leave the faith.

You pray. You pray with all your heart, with all your devotion, with all your love of God, and yet it seems as if your prayers are not answered. The illness is not healed. The loved one is not spared a painful death. Grief and disappointment enter your heart, your soul, your very being. Where is God?

I can’t peer behind the veil of Heaven and give you the answer. This is a question both the faithful and the faithless have been asking ever since man first became aware of a Holy God. Where is God during a flood that leaves millions homeless? Where is God when cancer ravages a once vital and robust person, reducing her to a faded skeleton with skin of parchment? Where is God when I need Him the most? I prayed that she would be healed and recover completely, but instead, she died.

There are any number of books written by Pastors and Rabbis, who are far more learned and wiser than I am, who try to answer these questions. I suppose that’s why I quote from the ancient sages and the modern clergy when I write my “meditations.” I find them just as inspiring and illuminating as the others in their audience. I draw strength and courage from their insights into God, and through what they teach, I try to gain a better understanding of the scriptures, of God, and of myself.

But where is God when disaster strikes the world, strikes communities, families, and individuals, and grips the human heart with terror? And not understanding the answer, why then do we continue to pray to a God who does not seem to answer us when we beg and plead for mercy?

The Talmud says that a Jew is obligated to pray, based upon Deuteronomy 11:13: “serve Him with all your thoughts — Livavchem — and with all your soul.” Livavchem is a form of the Hebrew word Leiv, which is most often translated as the heart. In the Torah, however, we find that the first appearance of Leiv is Genesis 6:5 “Machshavos Libo” — thoughts of his Leiv (see also Proverbs 19:21). We do the same thing in English, referring to a person with a “warm heart,” while in reality we know thoughts are in the head. Be that as it may, the service of G-d in Deuteronomy 11, service “with all your heart,” is found in our thoughts. The Sages of the Talmud say that this is prayer, Tefilah.

The word Tefila deserves further examination as well, because although we commonly translate it as prayer, the origin of the word is the root Palel, meaning to judge or decide (see Ex. 21:22). Jewish prayer, in fact, is a form of reflection and self-judgment. In the reflexive form, the verb L’hispalel, “to pray,” actually means to judge one’s self.

Prayer is better understood as a service of the Al-mighty that takes place in our thoughts, which involves judging ourselves, making decisions, before G-d. We make judgments and decisions many times each day. The obligation to pray asks us to involve G-d in our thoughts and in the decisions we make. Formal prayer remains necessary, for it trains us to turn to Him periodically throughout the day — but the training should lead us to turn to Him whenever we need clarity and help, far beyond the synagogue. (Heard from Rabbi Jonathan Rietti)

G-d loves us, and He asks us to love Him back. Sometimes more precious than hearing “I love you” is hearing “I was thinking about you.” The more He’s on our mind, the closer we come to Him. Also, let’s not forget that He’s the ultimate source of all goodness. He pulls the strings infinitely more effectively than any other resource in our network of friends or associates. Shouldn’t such a personal contact take priority over all others?

-Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
“Your Best Contact”
Commentary on Torah Portion Ekev
ProjectGenesis.org

I don’t know if that’s a good enough answer for you. I don’t know that it’s a good enough answer for me. I do know, or at least believe, that prayer is not a simple ask and answer transaction. As Rabbi Clinton suggests, God is not the genie of the lamp and we are not Aladdin. It’s not a matter of rubbing an ancient illumination device, summoning the all-powerful being that resides within, and simply directing him to give us what we want, when we want it, in the way we want it. If this were so, then we all would be little “gods” running around commanding this all-powerful force to do our bidding, changing the world around us as our wants, needs, and desires saw fit.

Obviously, such is not the case. There is the will of God and as such, His will is not to be denied, even when we face our darkest hour. The Son of Man knew this most poignant and overarching lesson:

He parted from them a distance of slinging a stone and got down on his knees and prayed, saying, “My Father, if only you were willing to make this cup pass from me! Yet let it not be according to my will but according to your will.” An angel from Heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. Then the bonds of death came upon him and he continued to pray fervently. –Luke 22:41-44 (DHE Gospels)

Jesus prayed that God release him from the sentence of a painful, agonizing, humiliating, and ultimately unmerited death; a death in which the Son of Man would be separated from the Father in Heaven, perhaps for the first time since he was born to Miriam.

And yet he said, “let it not be according to my will but according to your will.” The result was that “the bonds of death came upon him.” I believe you know what series of events followed. Jesus prayed. He was comforted. He struggled with the “bonds of death.” He was unjustly tried. He was tortured. He was denied by one of his closest friends. He was humiliated. He was nailed to a tree. He suffered horribly. He was mocked while in agony. The Father (seemingly) abandoned him. And then finally, he died.

And not only he, but his disciples, his closest companions, were utterly disheartened and crushed.

Where was God?

The story has a “happy ending” which Christians celebrate every year at Easter but that “happy ending” is provisional, since we still live in a broken world where people pray, suffer, and die every day.

Where is God?

Why do we bother to pray?

Because, as Rabbi Dixler says, prayer is more about our relationship with God than what God will or won’t do for us. It’s about facing trials and suffering and knowing that the hurt may only end in death, but still knowing that God is our companion in all of that. Faith in God through Jesus Christ comes with a certain promise attached.

This is my mitzvah: that you love one another as I have loved you. There is no love greater than the love of one who gives his life on behalf of his companions. As for you, if you do what I command you, you are my companions. I will no longer call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master will do. But I said you are my companions because I have made it known to you all that I have heard from my Father. –John 15:12-15 (DHE Gospels)

In the past few weeks, I’ve written a great deal about love. Prayer is an act of self-sacrifice. In religious Judaism, prayer substitutes for the sacrifices Jews would make if the Holy Temple currently existed in Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul urged us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices (see Romans 12:1) though not in the literal sense. He referred to himself at the end of his life as being poured out like a drink offering (see Philippians 2:17 and 2 Timothy 4:6). And he urged the church at Philippi:

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:5-7 (ESV)

Prayer is the act of self-judgment, service to our Master, and turning ourselves inside out to God. It’s totally and willingly revealing of ourselves to Him (not that He doesn’t know us). It’s inviting God into our lives, our hearts, our joys, and our suffering. God isn’t obligated to answer our prayers in the manner we desire, but He has promised to always accompany us on a journey through whatever territory, light or darkness, that we may find ourselves. David’s most famous psalm to the King of Kings included this:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. –Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

David didn’t pray to be spared a journey through “the valley of the shadow of death” (sometimes translated as “the valley of deep darkness”), only that God be his shepherd and that He comfort David.

Jesus promised that we would be more than servants, we would be his companions. The word “companions,” as I previously presented when quoting from John 15:13, is often translated as “friends.” Though we are sometimes in pain and torment, we are never alone, for God is with us. He comforts us, if we will only reach out to Him. We will not always be absolved of pain, but we will never be abandoned.

Rabbi Clinton finishes his answer with this:

The prayer book (Siddur), Psalms and the words various traditional formulations are bursting with valuable lessons about our relationship with God, His compassion and generosity and our own fragile existence. By thinking about these precious words, we are deeply enriching our own faith and expressing our dependence on God – who does, after all – care for us.

Do our prayers have any effect on our suffering friends? Undoubtedly. Perhaps the very act of growing in faith and sensitivity as a result of the prayer process can be considered a significant accomplishment for ones loved one. After all, it was your relationship to him/her which inspired this growth.

There is much more to this subject, but I hope that these words will be of some help to you.

May the God of Abraham always answer your prayers and mine by drawing us close to Him, today and forever. And may we continue to walk and talk with our Master as our traveling companion…and our friend.

In Search of the Jewish Voice of Jesus

Kohen GadolThe Maharal, zt”l, explains the mechanics of idolatry. “Our sages teach that a Jew who gives charity on condition that his son recover from illness is a complete tzaddik. Conversely, charity given by a non-Jew on condition is meaningless. The gemara explains that even if the child does not recover, the Jew will not want his money back, but the non-Jew will want a refund. To understand why, we must delve into the reason why people worshiped idolatry. They desired to excel in something, be it war, love, or the like. Idolatry meant only acting in a way that they held strengthened their goal. It is no wonder that an average idolater who gave money on this condition would demand a refund if the child did not recover. He only gave charity as a fee in the hopes that his son will heal. If this didn’t provide excellent results, it was a waste of money from his perspective.”

Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“The Dust of the Remains”
Chullin 125

By God’s divine providence, I “accidentally” took in my hand a New Testament, which for many long years I had left unnoticed in a hidden corner – a book which I had, in vexation, taken from a Jewish teacher thirty-three years before, in order that he might not read it.

I began to turn over its leaves and to read.

-Rabbi Ignatz (Isaac) Lichtenstein (1824-1909)
District Rabbi of Tapioszele, Hungry
As quoted in Messiah Journal, Issue 108/Fall 2011
“A Christian’s Guide to the DHE”

Let’s say you are a Christian who has an interest in Judaism, as it is the source of your faith. Strange, I know, but let’s pretend. Let’s say that, out of your interest and curiosity, you have taken to reading the traditional weekly Torah Portions which are recited each Shabbat in every Jewish synagogue in the world. You may even read some of the Jewish commentaries on these readings and, as time passes, you may discover yourself picking up on the rhythm of Jewish thinking and start seeing the “Old Testament” through new and illuminated eyes.

Then you return to reading the New Testament. By now, you are very familiar with the teachings of Jesus and the letters of Paul. Strangely, they seem a little stale to you. This is not because Christ is stale and not even because your faith is beginning to become a little tired, but because you cannot detect what most assuredly was a Jewish voice coming from the “Son of Man”, the offspring of Miriam (Mary), a late Second Temple period Jewish virgin who had an extraordinary encounter with an angel one day (Luke 1:26-38). When you read the Gospels and the Epistles, you hear the voice of your Gentile Christian Sunday school teacher and your Gentile Christian church Pastor. These are very good and kind men and you value their service to the faith very much.

But something is missing.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gavri’el to the Galil, to a certain town named Netzeret, to a virgin who was betrothed to a man named Yosef from the house of David. The virgin’s name was Miryam. The angel entered the room and said to her, ‘Shalom to you, gracious woman! HaShem is with you! {You are blessed among women.}” {When she saw him,} she was alarmed by his statement and said in her heart, “What is this brachah?” The angel said,

Do not fear, Miryam, because you have found favor before God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Yeshua. He will be great, and he will be called the son of the Highest. HaShem, God, will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Ya’akov forever. There will be no end to his kingdom.

Miryam said to the angel, “How can this be? I have not known a man.” The angel answered and said to her,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore, the one that is born will be called holy – the son of God. Look! Your relative Elisheva, whom people have called barren, is also pregnant and will bear a son in her old age. This is her sixth month. For nothing is perplexing to God.

Miryam said, “I am the maidservant of HaShem. Let it be for me according to your word.” And the angel left her. –Luke 1:26-38 (DHE Gospels)

Is that more like it? No, it’s not an English Bible with a couple of “Hebrewisms” thrown in to make it sound “Jewish”. It’s much more than that.

In 1873 the British and Foreign Bible Society commissioned Franz Delitzsch to prepare a translation of the New Testament into Hebrew. Delitzsch agreed and set to work utilizing his extensive knowledge of mishnaic Hebrew and first century Judaism to create a translation and reconstruction of the Greek text back into an original Hebrew voice. His reconstructing translation was completed in 1877. After the first edition, it went through extensive review and revision for the next 13 years. The final edition was published in 1890 under the care and supervision of Gustav Dalman. Sixty thousand copies were distributed for free throughout Europe resulting in tens of thousands of Jewish people coming to know Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel.

Those Jewish believers and their influences are the very embers that have ignited this modern day hope and revival.

Since that time the Delitzsch NT has continued its good work through a series of reprints by various missions to the Jews. It is our honor to work alongside this great man of God and bring all of his wisdom, scholarship and vision to today’s people of God in a fresh and relevant way. We pray that it will allow even more Jewish people to engage in the life giving words of Yeshua.

From the introduction to the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels
by Vine of David

This Bible, which has been faithfully reproduced by Vine of David and enhanced with many new features isn’t meant to be the perfect English translation of the Gospels. Originally, it was the testamony of the writers of the Gospels, reconstructed back into its original Hebrew “voice” so that the words of Jesus (Yeshua) could be more clearly perceived by 19th (and now 21st) century Jews. This isn’t an easy task because, as you read in the prior quote from Daf Yomi Digest, matters related to non-Jewish worship are not considered to operate on the same level as observant Jewish piety. On the other hand, you also read words from the heart of a 19th century Rabbi who, accessing no special edition of the New Testament, nevertheless found the Jewish Messiah. To continue reading from Rabbi Lichtenstein:

An accomplished lady who was conversing with me exclaimed, when her arguments had all been met, “He is everything great, everything noble, if only he were not called Jesus Christ.”

Ironically, the name revered by Christians across 2,000 years is, for good reason, feared and reviled throughout Judaism and it is that name, not who he is or what he teaches, that separates the great “Maggid of Netzeret” from the vast majority of his people, the Jews, in today’s modern world. Rabbi Lichtenstein describes his own perceptions in this area:

As impressions of early life take a deep hold, and as in my riper years I still had no cause to modify these impressions, it is no wonder that I came to think that Christ himself was the plague and curse of the Jews, the origin and promoter of our sorrows and persecutions. In this conviction, I grew to years of manhood, and still cherishing it, I became old. I knew no difference between true and merely nominal Christianity. Of the fountainhead of Christianity itself, I knew nothing.

Most Jews come to know Christianity not from Christ but from his followers, both those in the here and now, and those who have cursed, harrassed, persecuted, and killed the Jewish people for hundreds upon hundreds of years. It is a miracle of God that even a single Jew in all that time, and to this very day, has ever come to faith in Jesus and called himself a disciple of the Master. Certainly Rabbi Ignatz Lichtenstein was the beneficiary of one such miracle in 1884 when he become enthralled with the New Testament and devoted his life to being a disciple of Yeshua.

But what about you, “hypothetical” Christian, who longs to also hear the Jewish voice of Jesus? If now there exists an edition of the Gospels that will allow you to hear Jesus as less evangelical Christian and more Jewish Rabbi, why should you desire to hear words that were written for a Jew? The article “A Christian’s Guide to the DHE” in Messiah Journal addresses your concerns.

Reading the DHE is important for Christians because it places the Gospels back in their proper context. The Messiah came as a Jewish man to the Jewish people in the land of Israel. This was no accident. Rather, this was the setting that the Father specifically chose to reveal his truth and his plan of salvation.

The implication is rather startling. If God chose to provide His plan for the salvation of the non-Jewish people of the earth in the form of a First Century itinerent Jewish Rabbi, born of working-class parents in a small rural town in a Roman occupied nation, are you going to be able to completely understand the message of that plan and hear the entire intent of God by reading a traditional English translation of the Bible? Yes, you can buy a Chumash and a Tanakh to immerse yourself in the pool of Jewish learning in the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings, but you are missing an important, some might even say “crucial” element in reconstructing the ancient Jewish presence of the Word of God.

The Death of the MasterJewish men like Rabbi Lichtenstein and Paul Philip Levertoff encountered Jesus at great risk and yet accepted that risk, which included being rejected by family, friends, and the entire Jewish community, in order to connect to the tzadik God made most great in all the world, who is revealed not only a Rabbi and Prophet, but as “the Prophet” and the Moshiach. You, as a Christian, may end up taking a bit of criticism from your Sunday school teacher, your Pastor, even your parents and spouse, because you are called to hear a voice few of them will ever perceive. But having once heard that voice, how can you ignore it? No, you can’t. He’s calling to you.

You are not alone. You are not without directions in which to turn. There are others who walk the same path as you. The DHE Gospels can let you hear the Jewish voice of Jesus. Messiah Journal is a publication written for the Christian and the Jew who desires to meet the Jewish Messiah. You can go beyond where you are now in understanding the author of the faith in your heart. The subtle nuances and the “hidden” message in the words of Jesus and the Gospel writers do not have to go unnoticed. You can find them. Hopefully this review has helped you know where to look.

Transforming Darkness with Light

Inner lightHusbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.Ephesians 5:25-33 (NIV)

The relation of husband and wife is the way our world reflects the relationship of the Creator with His Creation. There is nothing more pivotal to the world’s ultimate fulfillment than this.

Therefore, as the world nears closer and closer to its fulfillment, the resistance grows stronger and stronger. By now, absolutely everything appears to be undermining the most crucial key of peace between man and woman.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Peace at Home”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Anyone who’s ever been married knows that, even in the best of relationships, there can be strife and disagreement at times. It isn’t always easy to maintain peace in the home at every moment. The world around you may never know that you and your spouse aren’t getting along, but you know, your spouse knows…and God knows.

How much more does God know about the state of our relationship with Him, if we are on good terms or are feeling estranged. As Rabbi Freeman states, our relationship with our spouse is a reflection of our relationship with God. As the world progresses to a condition of ever greater darkness, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain peace in the home and peace as we attempt to enter the Temple of Hashem.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. –2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NIV)

Even in the community of faith, “peace is the home” is getting harder to secure. As Paul predicted, we are living in an age when “people will not put up with sound doctrine”, although it is ironic that some very shallow viewpoints on the Word of God are considered to have “deep meaning”. We also see values that once were great in the hearts of believers, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, giving to the poor, are now considered passe’ and have been replaced by the latest fads in church “feel-good-about-yourself” programs. And yet, in any relationship, no matter the circumstances, we can still overcome the barriers as long as we keep our focus on the object of our love and faith:

Just as He clothes the naked, as it is written [in Genesis 3:21], “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them,” so too should you also clothe the naked. The Holy One, blessed be He, visited the sick, as it is written [in Genesis 18:1], ‘Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre,’ [while he was still recovering from circumcision,] so too should you also visit the sick. The Holy One, blessed be He, comforted mourners, as it is written [in Genesis 25:11], “After the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac,” so too should you also comfort mourners. The Holy one, blessed be He, buried the dead, as it is written [in Deuteronomy 34:6], “And He buried [Moses] in the valley in the land of Moab,” so too should you also bury the dead. –b.Sotah 14a

Here we see God’s love for us and His example in how we should show love to others. We also see this in the life of the Master:

Yochanan heard in prison about the deeds of the Mashiach and sent two of his disciples. They said to him, “Are you the one who comes, or should we wait for another?” Yeshua answered and said to them,

“Go tell Yochanan what you have heard and what you have seen. The blind are seeing, the lame are walking, metzora’im are becoming pure, the deaf are hearing, the dead are rising, and the poor are receiving good news. And O, the gladness of th eman who does not stumble because of me!” –Matthew 11:2-6 (DHE Gospels)

Holding onto lightAs the time of darkness approaches, we can push it back and indeed, by our acts of trust and faithfulness to Jesus, we can actually transform the darkness into light, at least in part, and when he returns to us, he will  make everything complete and restore the world to light.

When light pushes away the darkness, eventually another darkness shall come. When the darkness itself is transformed into light, it is a light that no darkness can oppose.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Transformation”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Is it any wonder we have this comparison?

Yeshua spoke to them once more saying, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will not walk in darkness, for he will have the light of life.” –John 8:12 (DHE Gospels)

You are the light of the world. A city that sits on the mountain will not be hidden, nor do people kindle a lamp just to put it under the bushel measure, but on the menorah, to illuminate all who are in the house. So also, shine your light before sons of men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your father who is in heaven. –Matthew 5:14-16 (DHE Gospels)

Just as we see the light of our Master and strive to imitate him by also becoming light, our Master did nothing on his own:

Then Yeshua said to them, “At the time you lift up the son of man you will know that I am he and that I do not do anything of myself. But as my Father has taught me, so I speak. The one who sent me is with me; the Father has not abandoned me to be alone. For I always do what is good in his eyes.” –John 8:28-29 (DHE Gospels)

Just as he was sent in the Name of the Father, now we are sent in the name of the Son. So we should do all that is good in His eyes, that we might become one with our Father in Heaven, that there might be peace in our homes and in “the Home”, and that the darkness may be dispelled by our light, and His light.

Note: Quotes from the Gospels were taken from the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels, Hebrew/English translation adapted and published by Vine of David from the original 1890 text, produced by Franz Delitzch and supervised of Gustav Dalman.

Quotes from Sotah 14a and John 8:28-29 were adapted from the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) commentary on Torah Portion Ki Tavo, Imitating God.

Dawn