Hi everyone! Feel free to use this logo to promote this extra special mitzvah this year. There are many resources to consider to be part of this incredible time. I will try to list them in a separate post in the near future. Blessings and l'shanah tova!
Abba gave me a really amusing new children's craft to teach the mitzvot of mezuzot to our youngsters. I saw a lot of really creative Jewish mommies using Pez dispensers and many other containers for our special little scrolls, or "klaf" in Hebrew, to be hung on our doorposts.
But when I headed to the stores to find the Pez dispensers and other containers posted by these wonderful women, I couldn't find them in my local stores! What a dilemma I was facing. However, this was no surprise for our Abba. When we come to a roadblock, we just may have to realize He may have an alternate route to take. At the time, though, seeing as I am a mommy with a limited time frame for these shopping excursions (as I am sure some of you understand), I prayed as I walked the aisles of my local craft store and asked Abba for an alternative game plan. As the minutes ticked past, I began pleading and begging Abba. And then, in my desperation, Abba showed me His game plan with His soft voice...
What did He show me you ask? I package of kazoos. Kazoos?! I then began to chuckle as I heard that little humorous voice in my head say, "Kazuzahs. Get it?!" My desperation melted, relief set in and I started to get excited about the new game plan as I laughed and embraced this new spin on our beloved mitzvah.
I grabbed the pack of kazoos, some stickers and decorative tape, and some sticky tack to affix our "Kazuzahs" to the doorposts. Now it was onto the classroom.
I was pretty excited about class, with this new little humorous spin Abba gave me to share. But the children were, as children sometimes are, all over the place! That day I couldn't get them to focus. I had another dilemma on my hands, but Abba again had the solution! He told me, "Explain to them what 'shema' means, and then use the little kazoos to explain how we have to hear and obey what goes into our kazuzah case." I even let them blow it enough times to woo their hearts back to Abba's words. Now THAT got their little eyes and ears focused!
We went onto discuss the mitzvah at length, and read about the job of a "sofer." I printed out the word "Shema" in Hebrew and had them practice writing it with bamboo skewers and black paint telling them they were going to be "sofers" for the day. (Feel free to use feathers, which are more authentic!)
Once our little scrolls dried, we rolled them up, blew our kazuzahs a final time, and explained the prayer to say when affixing our new treasures in the entryways. (You can easily affix these "kazuzahs" with a little sticky tack from the school supplies section or a local craft store.) I told them to remember every time they passed by their "kazuzah," to remember the words on the scroll and listen/shema to our Heavenly Father. One little girl mentions "Shema" to me every time I see her at synagogue now. May YHVH receive the glory!
Here is the link to the template I used for our scrolls:
Torah Scroll Templates
Enjoy this Torah learning adventure too! Pezuzahs...Kazuzahs...what does Abba have for us next?!
Just in time for Yom Teruah and the Shemittah/Sabbatical year to start, Abba led me to a means of teaching our youngsters all about these incredible mitzvot.
For those of you who have no clue yet what I am talking about when I say "Shemittah," I am referring to the commandments in the Torah:
"You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove." (Exodus 23:10-11)
AND in Leviticus/Vayikra...
"God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, telling him to speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land must be given a rest period, a sabbath to God. For six years you may plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and harvest your crops, but the seventh year is a sabbath of sabbaths for the land. It is God's sabbath during which you may not plant your fields, nor prune your vineyards. Do not harvest crops that grow on their own and do not gather the grapes on your unpruned vines, since it is a year of rest for the land. [What grows while] the land is resting may be eaten by you, by your male and female slaves, and by the employees and resident hands who live with you. All the crops shall be eaten by the domestic and wild animals that are in your land." (Leviticus 25:1-7)
"And if ye shall say: 'What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we may not sow, nor gather in our increase'; then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth produce for the three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the produce, the old store; until the ninth year, until her produce come in, ye shall eat the old store." (Leviticus 25:20-22)
AND in Deuteronomy/Devarim...
"At the end of every seven years, you shall celebrate the remission year. The idea of the remission year is that every creditor shall remit any debt owed by his neighbor and brother when God's remission year comes around. You may collect from the alien, but if you have any claim against your brother for a debt, you must relinquish it...." (Deuteronomy 15:1-6)
"Moses then gave them the following commandment: 'At the end of each seven years, at a fixed time on the festival of Sukkoth, after the year of release, when all Israel comes to present themselves before God your Lord, in the place that He will choose, you must read this Torah before all Israel, so that they will be able to hear it. 'You must gather together the people, the men, women, children and proselytes from your settlements, and let them hear it. They will thus learn to be in awe of God your Lord, carefully keeping all the words of this Torah. Their children, who do not know, will listen and learn to be in awe of God your Lord, as long as you live in the land which you are crossing the Jordan to occupy'." (Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
Ok...so there is a LOT to learn with the shemittah, but an exciting way to start is this fun seder idea for the younger generations or the young at heart. I gathered some simple veggie/fruit platters that I will show you below:
Say hello to Adam! I decided that in order to explain all of the mitzvot of the land release, I'd go back to Genesis/Bereshit where it all started. I introduced the children to Adam, who was healthy (hence the yummy veggies) and walking right with God in the Garden of Eden. UNTIL...
This pesky snake came along and tempted Adam's wife to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I designed my serpent with just the strawberries. And here's the tree platter we made:
And so I asked the children, "When God found out that Adam sinned by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, what did He do?" We then discussed how Adam not only was expelled from the Garden of Eden, but also would have to now work THE LAND by the sweat of his brow for the rest of his life.
The great news is, our Elohim created the Shabbat even before this sin took place. The neat part about the shemittah, as I told the kids, is that by observing YHVH's commandments, we get a chance to completely get back what it felt like to be in the Garden of Eden! For one day every week known as the Sabbath/Shabbat, and one year every seven known as the shemittah. The sin that Adam committed is now forgiven! We are no longer slaves to working the land, our debts are paid and we can walk freely knowing that our Heavenly Father and His glorious Son have provided our sustenance, physical and spiritual nourishment, for us. We just have to live it out by our acts of faith through obedience!
We also played a numbers game where we counted up to seven, and with each number the children had to name as many Scriptural things having to do with that number. For example, I would say, "The number one." And the children would say, "The first day of creation. Light. Echad. One way to the Father (Yeshua)." By the time we got to seven, we had lots of things to talk about, including the shemittah and the "seven sevens" counting up toward Shavuot and the Jubilee years! (The game idea came from the Jhub "Give It a Rest" Campaign. Will do another whole post on that one hopefully!)
Furthermore, I drew a picture of Joseph on a dry erase board. I drew the head, coat, pants, feet, and hands. I told the children in a minute they'd be able to decorate Joseph's coat and his face with whatever they thought he would have looked like. Then I asked, "Why do you think Joseph has to do with the shemittah?" (None knew.) Then I drew Joseph's hair very long. I went on to explain that Joseph is actually the first reference in the Scriptures of a Nazirite (dealing with the Hebraic thought of the Law of First Mention, "nazir," found in Genesis/Bereshit 49:26), whose hair remained uncut (just like the land was left alone). I then asked if anyone knew about Joseph's story, which some of them were very familiar with. They remembered how Joseph was sold by his brothers as a slave. I then stated, "And in the year of the shemittah, we learn that everyone is released from their debts." I questioned them, "How on earth did Joseph get out of prison?" The children were quiet. I explained that Joseph finally was released from prison for explaining Pharaoh's dream, a perplexity of two sets of seven years. By doing so, he was appointed second in command in all of Egypt, with the job of storing up food during the plentiful years, just as we store up food for the upcoming shemittah year. And by Joseph's obedience, Israel, his brothers, AND the nations were saved. Would it not be wise to follow in his footsteps as well?
Joseph is a favorite Biblical character for children. So I found it was an easy example to help walk them through the different elements of this exciting part of the Torah.
Additionally, we decorated the tables with some green tablerunners, blue and green glitter tulle for the chairs, and my own children made a Lego shemittah city to help me expound on the halacha of this year to my wonderful class! (Will do a separate post on that one.) I pray that you can bring your children into this special season in fun and engaging ways. Have fun and enjoy celebrating this extra special time of year!
May we all find ways to embrace Your commandments, Abba, and teach our children Your ways. Amen.
I stumbled across an interesting story in the Talmud (first pic), thanks to Chabad.org, that refers to this past week's Torah verses from Deuteronomy/Devarim 21:22-23. These Scriptures state that a man who is hung on a tree is a reproach to God (see pictures below, courtesy of PocketTorah app). It is quite interesting to see in the story cited on Chabad the description of identical twins: one a king, the other a criminal.
It leads me to the question: what are identical twins? Identical twins (see next pic below, courtesy of About.com ) are from a single entity before conception. One egg. So too, Yeshua was one man, split into two different roles through the ultimate act of conception: His love for humanity.
And so, as the gospel of John recounts (see next pic below, courtesy of Strong's Concordance app), we have this Talmudic story that is no longer a story, but an account of a King, who died the death of a criminal. He hung accursed on the tree with a sign that declared "King of the Jews" for all to read. Let there be no mistaking He was indeed THE King and His death was THE one described in the Torah as a reproach of God.
Furthermore, to expound on the last line of this short Talmudic story, it states that "whoever saw him would say, 'The king is hanging!"' If you look back to the gospel of John, it recounts how the sign stating "King of the Jews" was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Whoever saw him WOULD be able to say, "The King is hanging!"
I beg to disagree though with the ultimate conclusion with which the story seems to end: the degradation of the King. In a natural course of events, this would be the case. However, in the action of Yeshua our Messiah, the anointed King of Israel, that degradation was in fact supernatural in itself. By fulfilling the mitzvot of the cursed man for our sakes, that act of love became His elevation and rightful place as King of Kings. This is the character of our God. HalleluYah that we serve a King who is so heroic, not slaughtering another for the sake of His God, but being cursed Himself to spare us all from that which we all rightfully deserve (the criminal's curse). May He continue to reveal Himself to us and may we learn to be more like Him, with selfless bravery on behalf of our fellow man.
Chazak chazak v'nit chazek...the King of Kings is soon coming!
Yeshua, on the last day of the feast of Sukkot, declared these words (pictured above) from the Gospel of John, Chapter 7. As I studied more about the water libation ceremony on the Temple Institute's website (pictured below in this post from http://www.templeinstitute.org/sukkot.htm), I was so overjoyed to understand this ceremonial water came directly from the "foothills of Mount Moriah" and was the "original" source of water for the city of David. This was the place where Abraham offered up his son Isaac, but YHVH instead provided the sacrifice that spared Isaac's life. (Bereshit/Genesis 22:8)
As I sit here recalling instances of our Sukkot campout this year and the memories already warmly made, I hold onto one word that connects to our outdoor experience this feast season: WARMLY. At times, the weather has been pretty hot, and it turns out (as always) Abba has had a reason why. He wanted to remind us all to seek Him through the weather!
Just like the Israelites who experienced the extreme weather conditions of the desert wilderness, we too experience all kinds of weather during the feast of Sukkot. (One Sukkot was so chilly for our family it was a blessing a friend I'd made at the feast spared TONS of blankets so we'd keep warm! I am STILL grateful for that provision she made on Abba's behalf. HalleluYAH.) But if we do not have that heavenly mindset of His word establishing itself all around us, we can lose sight of YHVH's command to be joyous! So, as I enjoy some leftover campfire potatoes and corn on the cob, I offer you an arsenal of Scriptures to proclaim in all weather conditions so you can declare prophetically and enthusiastically what these elements represent.
"I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessings." Yehezqel/Ezekiel 34:26
"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses." Yeshayahu/Isaiah 44:3-4
"If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." Vayikra/Leviticus 26: 3-4
"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of YHVH: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He." Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:2
If you get rained on, consider yourself tremendously blessed! I know we all cherished it at our campout this year because we all sought shelter under a canopy, all of us huddled together, feasting on food and His word.
"And YHVH will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defense. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and rain." Yeshayahu/Isaiah 4:5-6
"For so YHVH said unto me, I will take My rest, and I will consider in My dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest." Yeshayahu/Isaiah 18:4
"For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low. And in this mountain shall YHVH of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow death up in victory; and YHVH the Lord will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for YHVH has spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is YHVH; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His YESHUA (salvation)." Yeshayahu/Isaiah 25:4-9
"They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them." Yeshayahu/Isaiah 49:10
"As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters." Mishle/Proverbs 25:13
"He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth His ice like morsels: who can stand before His cold? He sendeth out His word, and melteth them: He causeth His wind to blow, and the waters flow. He showeth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgements to Israel." Tehillim/Psalms 147: 16-19
"Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north. By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straightened." Iyob/Job 37:9-10
Be encouraged this Sukkot and be weatherwise, Scripturally speaking. Be edified by His Word as He tabernacles with you this season. He has already made provision for every circumstance...EVERY THING you will encounter. Just trust Him to use your circumstance to spread His truth among all peoples! Chag sameach Sukkot in rainy, hot, AND cold climates!
If you have not read how the Day of Atonement went during the times when the Temple stood, please read it this year! The Temple Institute has a wonderful, in-depth look into each part of the service on that day. I especially appreciated the sukkot the priest could stop at if necessary during the leading of the scapegoat into the desert. I am thankful no priest was reported breaking the fast! Just seeing the provision there was enough to keep them determined to carry out their mitzvah!
May our studies help us learn more and more about the nature of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Yeshua, the High Priest of the order of Melchizedek.
"where Yeshua has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever according to the order of Malkitsedeq."
Since He is our High Priest, it's a great thing to search out what that job looked like here!
Check out the carrying out of Day of Atonement according to the Temple Institute here: Yom Kippur Service.
(Photo courtesy of The Temple Institute.)
I don't know how some of you feel about rap (I teach hip-hop as a form of praise dance so you can guess my thoughts), but this song and the explanation of the gospel of the Day of Atonement and Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, is spot on combined with a powerful contemporary beat. HalleluYah for how YHVH is reaching out to us in ways we will hear it and receive it! The Torah IS for today and we ARE receiving YHVH's plan for the salvation of every man. Please prepare yourselves for the upcoming fast and solemnity of the blood shed for US this Yom Kippur.
*WARNING: These images are disturbing. I cannot imagine what it was like for Israel to bring offering upon offering to the Temple. It is not so easy when looking at the shed blood to dismiss our sins which cause it, is it? Please pray and prepare your families for this day, and I pray humble and broken spirits flood Abba now and as the Day of Atonement comes. May we rid ourselves of impurities and offer ourselves as living sacrifices, like Yeshua, today.
I saw this video posted about 5 minutes after I posted my Yom Teruah blog. The law of two witnesses still applies, ladies!
Chag sameach! The new moon was sighted tonight from Israel by at least two witnesses: Yoel Halevi and Deborah Levine in the city of Jerusalem, as posted by Nehemiah Gordon on Facebook.
This is a feast discussed in both the Tanak (Torah/Prophets/Writings) and the Brit Chadashah (Renewed Covenant). It truly is the feast where men cannot know the day or hour (in case it is not spotted in the sky from Jerusalem). Here are the Scriptures to testify to this feast:
"Speak to the children of Yisrael, saying, 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you have a rest, a remembrance of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart gathering. You do no servile work, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH." Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:24-25 (ISR98)
This feast is connected to Rosh Chodesh (the "head of the month"), so the moon must be starting to make its appearance and its renewal. I have heard refutation of the Torah being done away with, but knowing the Torah unlocks revelation into the Gospels of Matthew (Chapter 24) and Mark:
"But concerning that day and the hour no one knows, not even the messengers in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time is-as a man going abroad, having left his house and given authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming-in the evening or at midnight, or at the crowing of the cock, or in the morning, lest, coming suddenly, he should find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" Mark 13:32-37
Also, Yeshua talks about the parable of the ten virgins:
"And at midnight a cry was heard, 'See, the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him! Then all those maidens rose up and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us of your oil, because our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'No, indeed, there would not be enough for us and you. Instead, go to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. And later the other maidens also came, saying, 'Master, Master open up for us!' But he answering, said, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you. Watch therefore, because you do not know the day or the hour in which the Son of Adam is coming." Matthew 25: 1-13
But remember, when Yeshua DOES come (HalleluYah!), the Gospel of Matthew reveals:
"And immediately after the distress of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Adam shall appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of Adam coming on the clouds of the heaven with power and much esteem. And He shall send His messengers with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Matthew 24: 29-31
Now I point out the similarities, based on these Scriptures, for the Feast and Messiah's return:
1. Both emphatically are unknown the day or hour.
2. Both give serious signs from the heavens to indicate the time is near.
3. Both connect the mitzvah of blowing a trumpet.
4. Both emphasize the need to watch and stand guard of the approaching time.
So hide these truths in your treasury because they will leave us wise to the coming of Mashiach (Messiah).
I have had people throw 1Thessalonians 5 at me to argue that every day is the same and that the Scriptures stress the idea we are to be unknowing (aka ignorant) of Mashiach's return. However, if one reads those verses in context and totality, you will glean a very different understanding:
"Now, brothers, as to the times and the seasons, you do not need to be written to. For you yourselves know very well that the day of YHVH comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then suddenly destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape." 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
Now keep reading...
"But you, brothers, are not in darkness, so that the Day should overtake you as a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. So then, we should not sleep, as others do, but we should watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But we who are of the day should be sober, putting on the breastplate of belief and love, and as a helmet the expectation of deliverance. Because Elohim did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain deliverance through our Master Yeshua Messiah, who died for us, so that we, whether awake or asleep, should live together with Him." 1 Thessalonians 5: 4-10
Sha'ul (Paul) further encourages us in ways to prepare ourselves for Yeshua Messiah's coming:
"Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, as indeed you do. But brothers, we beg you to know those who labour among you, and are over you in the Master and admonish you, and to hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we appeal to you, brothers, warn those who are disorderly, encourage the faint-hearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in all circumstances give thanks, for this is the desire of Elohim in Messiah Yeshua for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, prove them all. Hold fast what is good. Keep back from every form of wickedness. And Elohim of peace Himself set you completely apart, and your entire spirit, and being, and body-be preserved blameless at the coming of our Master Yeshua Messiah! He who calls you is trustworthy, who also shall do it. Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a set-apart kiss. I charge you by the Master that this letter be read to all the set-apart brothers. The favour of our Master Yeshua Messiah be with you. Amen." 1 Thessalonions 5: 11-28 (ISR98)
So we need to observe this moed (appointed time/rehearsal) of YHVH as we prepare to usher in the return of Messiah!
I pray you have a blessed feast! I FINALLY made sound blowing our shofar tonight! I finally, thanks to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) through me, am a SHOFAR HERO!!! It was not easy but with Abba and Yeshua and the Ruach HaKodesh, all things are possible! Have fun waking up your neighbors tonight with the trumpet blasts...