Archive for May, 2010

18
May
10

Shavuot

Today is the 49th day of counting the omer. When the sun sets it will be Shavuot. The 49 day period of counting the omer is really a microcosm of all of life. On one hand it is a time of anticipation of things to come. According to tradition,  we are  to count the omer with expectation; of looking forward. We are to look forward to Shavuot when we remember the receiving of  the Torah at Mt. Sinai. On the other hand it is a time of sadness, of remembering many of the sad events in Jewish history. Isn’t that the way life is? For most people life is a mixed bag of good times and sad times. I don’t know anyone whose life  is always just right. Everyone has some form of sadness – unmet expectations, disappointments, regrets or perhaps tragedy. But for people who believe in the Scriptures there is always hope –always looking forward.  That is the meaning of Shavuot.   The second paragraph of Aleinu contains a wonderful promise that comes from Isaiah 45:23 that can encourage us to keep going.

Therefore we put our hope in you O Lord our God, that we may soon see your mighty splendor, to remove detestable idolatry from the earth, and false gods will be utterly cut off to perfect the universe through the almighty sovereignty. Then all humanity will call upon your Name to turn all the earth’s wicked toward you. All the world will recognize and know that to you every knee should bend and every tongue swear loyalty…

In the New Covenant we read  that  

        God highly exalted Yeshua, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Yeshua every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:2-10

 When Moses received the Torah the process of redemption was beginning. Yeshua came to move that process forward and he will ultimately bring it to its conclusion. As a result of his work, the Ruach Ha’Kodesh has been poured out in the lives of those who trust in him. Shavuot is the anniversary of both events. Shavuot represents the assurance of the fulfillment of the promise of the World to Come contained in the Torah and experienced via the Ruach HaKodesh. .  

 Shavuot represents not only historical events – the giving of Torah and the pouring out of the Ruach Hakodesh. It represents the day that we long for; a day to which we look forward.  There are many wonderful promises in the Bible that describe what life will be like in that day. Just like counting the omer, today we struggle but we anticipate a day of redemption.  

 As we are encouraged in the New Covenant

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 With this promise and assurance, how do we live our lives today?  Certainly it should give us encouragement. But it should also play a role in our values – of what is important to us. On Shavuot we remember our covenant relationship. We remember the gifts of God and our responsibility to live holy lives. The hope of this world is not to be found in politics or the “kingdoms” of this world. Our hope is not to be found in what we call  “progress.” The hope of this world is only found in turning to God and embracing Yeshua the Messiah and the Word of God.  

Chag Sameach!

18
May
10

UMJC Conference in Seattle july 28-31

  Every year the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations holds its annual conference in a different city. This year’s conference is in Seattle and is being hosted by Beit HaShofar.  It is the first time that our conference has been in the Northwest. 

  • Attend seminars designed to teach, motivate and nurture  meaningful messianic Jewish life.
  • Hear music from up and coming messianic jewish artists
  • Schmooze with old friends
  • Celebrate Shabbat with with your UMJC family
  • Meet people from Messianic Communities from around the world

 Our theme this year is Walk the Talk!

Seminar tracks include:

W – Working Are you working …on your character traits? Are those around you affected positively by your example of Messiah Yeshua?
A – Alive Are you alive … living a spiritually healthy and vibrant Messianic Jewish life? Are Scripture, tradition, and prayer through the Spirit of Messiah empowering and renewing you daily?
L – Learning Are you learning … committed to your personal spiritual growth as a diligent student of Scripture? Are you becoming the knowledgeable teacher Messiah Yeshua needs to help build his Messianic Community?
K – Kiruv Are you doing kiruv … reaching out within your Jewish community with the Good News of Messiah Yeshua? Do you both publicly and privately share about God’s truth and faithfulness in Messiah?

Come and Celebrate Messianic Jewish Life!

Learn more about the Conference at www.UMJC.org

Register TODAY at:

http://www.regonline.com/Checkin.asp?EventId=836791

See you in Seattle!

12
May
10

Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day

This morning at Shacharit, we sang Hallel because today is Jerusalem Day! It is the day to commemorate the unification of Jerusalem during the 6 day war in June of 1967. It was on this date on the Jewish calendar, the 28th of Iyar,  that Israeli troops recaptured the “Old City” of Jerusalem. It was over 1900 years since Jerusalem had been ruled by the Jewish people. According to the official Israel website www.knesset.gov  Following the 6-Day War victory, on June 27, 1967, the Government presented the Knesset with three law proposals. These proposals determined the effective unification of Jerusalem and sanctioned the application of Israeli law in the entire area of the unified city. The municipal boundaries of the city were altered and its area was increased threefold: from 38,100 dunams to 110,000 dunams. At the same time a law was adopted that enabled free access to the holy places by the members of every religion. In 1980, the Basic Law: Jerusalem was adopted. This law determined that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and the location of all state authorities… After the 6-Day War the city and its environs underwent an intensive and unprecedented process of restoration and development. Institutions were built, entire new neighborhoods were established and an extensive system of roads and transportation infrastructure was constructed.

Today when you visit Jerusalem, you can visit the Old City, the Western Wall, the Temple Mount The Rabbi’s Tunnel and many other places that just a few decades ago would have been inaccessible. The unification of the city is perhaps the foreshadowing of greater things to come. The book of Zechariah says,

Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’ “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. ‘And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’  Zech. 8:2-5

The return of the Jewish people to the unified city of Jerusalem foreshadows the day when the “Lord will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.”  The day will come when Yeshua the Messiah will sit on his throne in Jerusalem and all of the nations will come  and seek the favor of the Lord.

It is an interesting observation that at the same time that the city was unified was also the beginning of what we know of today as the modern Messianic Jewish Movement. Beginning around the summer of 1967, thousands of Jewish people began embracing Yeshua and this in turn led to the formation of the messianic congregational movement. Could it be that at the same time that God was reuniting Jerusalem signaled a time of spiritual unification as well?

This day is a reminder of the love of God for Jerusalem and for the Jewish people. It is a day that reminds us that the covenant relationship that God has with the Jewish people is unconditional and therefore unbroken. We live in days when support for Israel is challenged both politically and socially. I know that some of the readers of this blog are opposed to Yeshua and others are part of the messianic community. the issue of Jerusalem and Israel is something that unites us all.  Israel and the Jewish people are apple of God’s eye. May today be a reminder to us all of the importance of supporting Israel. As the Scriptures say,          

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

               “May peace be within your walls,

And prosperity within your palaces.”

               For the sake of my brothers and my friends,

I will now say, “May peace be within you.”

               For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

I will seek your good.

09
May
10

remembering my father

It feels strange to speak of my father in the past tense. My father died on April 18th.  He lived a good long life and died in the presence of my mother and of myself. .  One of my most favorite memories is of sitting at the dinner table watching my father get up from his chair and walk over to my mother who was preparing dinner and dancing with her in the kitchen to a song playing on the radio.  Two things stand out from this: he loved to dance and he loved my mother.  His favorite kind of music was big band music. However,  if there was a wedding, bar mitzvah or just music playing on the radio during dinner – Bernie could be found on the dance floor. But perhaps more importantly, he loved my mother.  His devotion to my mom is best seen in his care for her for over 20 years as she battles parkinson’s disease.  He encouraged her, he pushed her to keep going; and in his retirement learned how to cook, wash clothes and run a household. I am convinced that my mother is here today because of my father’s tenacious attitude toward her care and his love for her. This display of devotion, love and care is reflective of the  ethos of his life – that of family devotion – which I believe he learned from his parents. My father loved his family – I do not mean just me and my mother but his whole extended family. It was very important to Bernie to maintain good family relations. He loved family gatherings and I know that he particularly enjoyed the interaction that he had with his grandchildren, nieces and nephews – I know that because he told me.  My father lectured me over and over again  to maintain good communication with family members.

Did I say lecture? Before the phrase “teachable moment” became fashionable, my father found “teachable moments” in many circumstances and took every opportunity to lecture me (in a good way) about many subjects and matters. The Shema admonishes fathers to teach their sons and the Book of Proverbs tells sons to listen to the teaching of one’s father.    It has been to my detriment not to have followed all of the advice my father has given me over the years!

My father was a very disciplined, orderly  and organized man. It has taken me many years to appreciate this attribute.  “A place for everything and everything in its place” in a sense defines him. He knew exactly where everything was in his house – and everything was located in a particular place for a particular reason.

I am tempted to  give many illustrations of discipline in eating, in finances, in record keeping, etc.    but suffice it to sat that it was well thought out and organized.    I believe that he made it to 91 years old with almost no illnesses to almost the very end due to his disciplined way of life.

Anyone who knows my father knows that he was an avid sports fan. He knew all of the ins and outs of his favorite teams – minor league players, stats – everything! Of all of the teams that he followed, his love affair with the New York Yankees is the stuff that legends are made of  – ok so  mabe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But he  loved those Yankees! At the beginning of each baseball season Bernie would cut out the schedules of the Yankees and the Red Sox so he could follow the Yankees to root for them and the Red Sox to root against them.

This Yankees “thing” was actually an important part of my relationship with my father – a vehicle which helped my father and I to relate to each other. He and I  watched ,many games together – especially in the short time that he as been living in    Columbus.  A fond memory is the time that my father, my sons and myself went to a Yankee game together at Yankee Stadium – three generations of Yankee fans. A good memory.

My father and I have not always seen eye to eye on things –  big shocker there! -which  leads me to the last and perhaps greatest attribute of my father that I want to share with you today– that is  his unconditional love toward me. no matter what I have ever done, he has been with me, supporting me and always being there – along with my mother. This is a tremendous quality which reminds me the what we read in the Torah and the prophets about the attitude of God toward the Jewish people. No matter how far they may have strayed God never abandoned them. He disciplined them and loved them regardless of the situation. My father has displayed that attitude toward me on countless occasions.

The last few months were difficult for my father. It was an honor and privilege for me to walk down this road with him, to be a listening ear; a cheerleader and consoler.  In a small way it was my way of saying thank you dad.  I read a passage to my father from Psalm 90 which says As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,

Or if due to strength, eighty years,

Well..he made it to 91!!!

There is a phrase that is used of Abraham, Isaac, David and others. The phrase is vayamat b’sayvah tovah – ripe old age. My father a good life to a ripe old age.

He taught me by his actions how to live well, how to love well, and to value the most important things in life. I will dearly miss him, but the legacy that he leaves are the many lessons and way of life that he taught me. My father is my hero.