Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Suffering Servant - what the ancient Rabbis have to say about who this is.....

What the ancients writings say about Isaiah 53:

Babylonian Talmud: "The Messiah --what is his name?...The Rabbis say, The Leper Scholar, as it is said, `surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God and afflicted...'" (Sanhedrin 98b)

Midrash Ruth Rabbah: "Another explanation (of Ruth ii.14): -- He is speaking of king Messiah; `Come hither,' draw near to the throne; `and eat of the bread,' that is, the bread of the kingdom; `and dip thy morsel in the vinegar,' this refers to his chastisements, as it is said, `But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities'"

Targum Jonathan: "Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high and increase and be exceedingly strong..."

Zohar: "`He was wounded for our transgressions,' etc....There is in the Garden of Eden a palace called the Palace of the Sons of Sickness; this palace the Messiah then enters, and summons every sickness, every pain, and every chastisement of Israel; they all come and rest upon him. And were it not that he had thus lightened them off Israel and taken them upon himself, there had been no man able to bear Israel's chastisements for the transgression of the law: and this is that which is written, `Surely our sicknesses he hath carried.'"

Rabbi Moses Maimonides: "What is the manner of Messiah's advent....there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin; for the Almighty, where he declares to us his mind upon this matter, says, `Behold a man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch forth out of his place' (Zech. 6:12). And Isaiah speaks similarly of the time when he shall appear, without father or mother or family being known, He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of dry earth, the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which kings will harken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived." (From the Letter to the South (Yemen), quoted inThe Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 374-5)

Rabbi Mosheh Kohen Ibn Crispin: This rabbi described those who interpret Isaiah 53 as referring to Israel as those: "having forsaken the knowledge of our Teachers, and inclined after the `stubbornness of their own hearts,' and of their own opinion, I am pleased to interpret it, in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah....This prophecy was delivered by Isaiah at the divine command for the purpose of making known to us something about the nature of the future Messiah, who is to come and deliver Israel, and his life from the day when he arrives at discretion until his advent as a redeemer, in order that if anyone should arise claiming to be himself the Messiah, we may reflect, and look to see whether we can observe in him any resemblance to the traits described here; if there is any such resemblance, then we may believe that he is the Messiah our righteousness; but if not, we cannot do so." (From his commentary on Isaiah, quoted in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 99-114.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Feast of Sukkot - 6th day

During the Feast of Sukkot, on the evening of the sixth day, the evening before the Hoshana Rabbah service, it is tradition to stay up all night and read Deuteronomy.   After midnight, the entire book of Psalms is read.   Apples are eaten dipped in honey for a "sweet year".  

The reason for this, is because it is written that on Hoshana Rabbah, our fate for this next year has already been determined, and is being delivered to the angels for execution.   How blessed we are, how much rain we get, will we live, will we die....  the verdict has been sealed and will be delivered tommorrow.  

It is written that no verdict is irreversible if we will repent.  This is like the LAST CHANCE FOR REAL to get right before the execution of the judgment.

According to the ancient writings, the Creator's only will is to do us good.  All the chaos we find in our lives is caused by ourselves and this is what Hoshana Rabbah's verdict is all about.  All the barriers, all the chaos, we created in our lives.

These feasts are "gates in time" allowing us to remove the chaos from our lives and to control them.

So that we can live the Deut. 16:15 promise:   "and you shall be COMPLETELY happy"  :)

Feast of Sukkot - Hoshana Rabbah Ceremony

The Hoshana Rabbah Ceremony occurs on the 7th day of the Feast of Sukkot.   It is on this day that God declares whether there will be rain for the coming year.

Everyday during the feast, the trumpets give three blasts, but on Hoshana Rabbah, the trumpets do three sets of seven blasts.

Every day during the feast, the priest went around the altar one time.   On Hoshana Rabbah, the priest marches around the altar seven times.

As they march around the altar, they sing the Hosanna ("Save us") verse from Psalm 118:25 as the people wave their palm branches (the lulav).

This is why it is called the "Great Hosanna" (Hoshanna Rabbah) or the "Great Day of the Feast".  This is when the prayers for water and the Messiah are at its peak.

This is when we see Jesus entering the scene.   He declares loudly from amongst the crowd, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in me, as the scriptures say, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."  John 7:37-38; John 4:14

The priests were furious that the ceremony had been interrupted by the guy they had previously ordered to be arrested (John 7;14; 30-32).

According to the ancient writings, Hoshana Rabbah closes the period of divine judgment started on Rosh Hashana (the day the verdict was finalized).  On Hoshana Rabbah, the verdict is sent out to the angels to perform it.  The verdict for how blessed you will be and how much rain you will get this next year is signed, sealed and now delivered on this day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feast of Sukkot

"You shall keep the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) seven days, when you have gathered in the produce, you shall rejoice in your feast, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful."   Deut. 16:13-15

Feast of Sukkot - Shemini Atzeret - The Day of Convocation

After the Feast of Sukkot, an extra day is added known as the "Eighth Day of Assembly".  It is an extra day of abiding with the Lord - with HIM.

Eight is the number for new beginnings.

Atzeret means "Abiding".

Jesus said, "Whoever abides (Atzeret) in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

According to the Zohar, it is on this 8th day, Shemini Atzeret, that the heathens/gentiles complete and terminate their blessings and abide in judgment.  But on this day, we end our judgments and abide in blessings.    We take delight with the King and take blessings from Him for the WHOLE YEAR.  It is on this day that we are alone with Him.

Whatever we wish for, we ask and He gives us.

Only he who sits with the King receives them.   "I have loved you."  Malachi 1:2

It is likened to a great wedding feast, and the guests have all left and the bridegroom enjoys us so much he asks us to stay one more day.....   so that he can spend quality time with just us.

The Sukkah is not used anymore on this day and the Hallel is recited (psalms 113-118).
 Torah references:  Lev. 23:36 and Num. 29:35

Feast of Sukkot - The Four Species (Arba Minim)

An important part of the Sukkot celebration involves the  "Four Species".

 This is based on the scripture, Leviticus 23:40:   "On the first day, you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree, and brook willows.  You will rejoice before the Lord, your God,  for seven days."

Based on the Hebrew version and from the ancient writings, this means you shall gather:

1.  An etrog from the etrog tree (aka citron) - This is the fruit of the beautiful tree.  It is a tree that grows native in Israel.  It looks like a bumpy lemon.   If you do not have a citron/etrog tree growing in your backyard, you can order them from Judaica stores.    They will deliver a fresh, kosher citron/etrog to you.  Make sure you do this early enough to get it in time.....   (Note:  Some use lemons but this is not rabbinically correct...!)

2.  Lulav - palm branches

3.  Aravot - Willow branches, you will need two per person to start with (and you will want more for later so get a whole bunch.... the fresher, the better)

4.  Myrtle - The myrtle trees they are speaking of have braided twigs.  We have myrtles everywhere around here and they are not braided.  You can order the four species if you need to.  You will need three of these per person, the fresher the better.  

So those are the "Four Species" or "Arba Minim".  Notice it is a total of SEVEN items needed.   (1 etrog, 2 willows, 3 myrtles).     There are SEVEN days of Sukkot, this is the SEVENTH month, and it is the SEVENTH feast.   Seven, being the number of completion.

I have seen pictures where some people are just waving banana leaves around, or just whatever they could find to do this so that they were waving *something*.   (that might explain the earthquake there!  jk!)

It is said that the three Myrtle branches are so that each person has one for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.   They are said to be visiting your Sukkah during Sukkot.

WHY these four species????   I wondered that also and this is what I have found:

The etrog:  This bumpy lemon has a pleasing taste and a pleasing scent.   It represents those who have studied the torah and perform the commandments (mitzvots).

Palm Branch:   Makes tasty fruit, but has no scent.    This represents those who study the torah but do not do what it says.

Myrtle Leaf:  Has a strong scent but no taste.   This represents those who do the commandments/mitzvots but do not study the torah.  (I.e., you are at the Feast of Sukkot because your parents made you)

Willow - has neither taste nor scent.   This represents those who don't study the torah and they do not do what it says to do.  (You are at the Feast of Sukkot because you heard it was a party).

On Sukkot, we are all brought together and united; bound together in one bundle and atone for each other.

So, What do we DO with these Four Species???

According to the Zohar and the ancient writings, actions are needed and not just words.    We wave these fresh branches to draw in the blessings into this world.   (Think "as above, so below")  As we are doing the earthly feast, there is also a heavenly feast.   We want to wave these species, to bring in the blessings.

You want them to be the freshest possible (I am thinking about growing my own etrog tree!).  "Fresh" refers to their being full of abundance to draw blessing into the world.

During the time of the 7 days of Sukkot, think your whole year is being blessed from this waving of the four species.....   (So do the best you can!)


First, find EAST (thats where Jerusalem is!)   Stand facing East.
Put the etrog in your left hand with the GREEN TIP UP  (I havent figured out yet why this is so important...)
Put the Lulav in your right hand (the bundled branches).
Have both hands together at your chest.

Here is the blessing in English:
"Blessed are you Lord, our God, Creator of the Universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to take up the Lulav.  Amen"

In transliterated Hebrew:  (because everything should be spoken in Hebrew, "the pure language")
"Barukh atah adonai,
 Eloheinu melekh ha-olam
Asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu
al n'tilat lulav.  Amein."

Now, TURN THE ETROG in your hand with the green tip DOWN.  (dont ask why, I dont know)

Shake both your hands (left hand etrog, right hand lulav bundle)
 gently three times to the east (in front of you).

Bring your hands back to your chest

Shake 3 times to the right (south)
Then over your right shoulder 3 times (west)
then to the left (north)
then up
then down

This represents that God is everywhere.

This is waved every morning during the Feast of Sukkot,  during the morning service, the Water Ceremony, during the Hallel (Psalms 113-118).   It is also used during Hoshana Rabbah.

This is what was happening when we see Jesus entering in and everyone is waving their palm branches.  The people were waving their lulavs and saying "Hosanna" during the Hallel.   :)

Feast of Sukkot - Checking our Shadow

According to the ancient writings, we can check to see if we will live or die this next year by checking our shadows on Hoshana Rabbah.    This is on the 7th day during the Feast of Sukkot.

It is written that only on this night, the moon reflects the verdicts of all humanity.   According to the Zohar, after midnight on Hoshana Rabbah, the 2nd seal is completed.   Our verdicts for this next year are then announced to the angels who then go off to carry out the instructions they were given.

When we stand in front of the moon, it is said that our shadow will reflect our life or death verdict for the coming year.   For those who will not make it to the next Rosh Hashanah, they will lose their shadow after midnight on Hoshana Rabbah.   Some say their shadow might be incomplete (i.e. missing a head) or they might not have a shadow at all where others do.   It is only on Hoshana Rabbah that this can occur, the full shadow will be back the next day.

This is why many stay up all night the night before reading the entire book of Deuteronomy and then after midnight, they will read the entire book of Psalms,  to try to correct their souls as much as possible.  Some will study the Zohar all night long.

There is no verdict that can not be changed without self examination and real repentance.

Hoshana Rabbah is considered the "last chance" to repent and get right with our creator before the verdicts are delivered.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset this year Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012.  

The first day of Rosh Hashanah is Monday, Sept. 17, 2012.
Torah Reading for the first day:   Genesis 21:1-34; Numbers 29:1-6; Haftorah:  1 Samuel 1:1-2:10

Second day of Rosh Hashanah:   Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Torah Reading for the second day:   Genesis 22:1-24; Numbers 29:1-6; Haftorah: Jeremiah 31:1-20

Round Challah filled with raisins - for a sweet new year.  The round loaf symbolizes the cycle of the year and the cycle of life and also represents the passing year.

Eat Pomegranites:   "May our good deeds  this year be as many as the seeds of this fruit."

Buy a new knife!    On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read that this is the day that the first circumcision was performed (on Isaac).   It is a reminder to return to G-d in repentance.  The first step of our sins being cut off.

On the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah, Abraham took a knife to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice.   The knife was used on the ram for the required blood sacrifice in place of Isaac - to remove the sins.

The ram is a metaphor for Messiah.  The word "Ram's Horn" -- "Yovel" is the same word for Jubilee.

So Isaac became the living sacrifice, an example of a holy life with the fire of Torah burning within.
By G-d providing the sacrifice of the ram caught in the tree, Isaac was set free ---Jubilee.

Thus, purchasing a new knife is a reminder to us to be a living sacrifice.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekly Sabbath

(under construction)

Blessing the Angels
Blessing the Women
Blessing the Men
Blessing the Children
Kiddush (Blessing the Creator)
Blessing the vegetables
Blessing the meat
Blessing the bread
Grace after the meal
Psalm 23