Category Archives: Torah

Praying in English, and Less

The way biblical lessons can transform our everyday lives!

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Rabbi Ovadia explains some of the psalms with explanation. Psalms are full of expression, love, sadness, hope, and many more. Some read psalms daily, weekly, in time of need, in tragedy, in celebration, to express what’s in our hearts and minds.

Parashat Va’era -וָאֵרָ֗א

Parashat Va’era

Exodus 6 – 9

ב וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃

ג וָאֵרָ֗א אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶל־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב בְּאֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י וּשְׁמִ֣י יְהוָ֔ה לֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי לָהֶֽם׃

ד וְגַ֨ם הֲקִמֹ֤תִי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתָּ֔ם לָתֵ֥ת לָהֶ֖ם אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן אֵ֛ת אֶ֥רֶץ מְגֻרֵיהֶ֖ם אֲשֶׁר־גָּ֥רוּ בָֽהּ׃

(2) And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him: ‘I am the LORD; (3) and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name ….a I made Me not known to them.

The words of Hashem as the “ וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ (3) וָאֵרָ֗א אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶל־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב בְּאֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י וּשְׁמִ֣י יְהוָ֔ה לֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי לָהֶֽם׃ ” are a secret, that is revealed in the names of the El of Abraham, El of Isaac, El of Yaacov.

The world was built on love/chesed and brought into a place of chaos and then rectification. These three things are the foundations of the world.
So many of us are like a child of three years old and our love and faithful obedience toward those we love is blind and untrained. We see the world as a child. We are nieve and unable to see around the corners.
Many are like Yosef at the age of seventeen, immature and unable to be directed, because we know everything, and our goals and dreams must be first, and primary to all others wishes and objectives. Our careers are what we are chasing, and Hashem will have to wait, until I am ready, to hear from Him. The one chasing this world does not need direction from above, to find the way below. Do you remember seventeen and know everything?
Wo, are my grey hairs, for I am a man of eighty.  With much strength, and wisdom, to bring stability, and balance to the world.  But the world has passed me by because it has failed in its own self-portrait. Like Moses, sent at eighty to free a people that were destined to be great but had to be strengthened in the fire of Egypt, in that narrow place. Moses was eighty, you see?
The world has not given to those in need. The world has not helped the ones, who need help the most. The world has not forgiven the ones that need forgiveness, the guilty have lost hope of ever being forgiven. We all have sought honor for ourselves, and everything given, must have something in return, to give to me, or it is not worth my time or effort.  There must be a reward for everything, I do.
Remember, that you were once in that same state, of not knowing. Like a child and then young, looking for a friend to help you overcome the ordeal you were standing in. Empathy was looking to find a home, but you were hurt, and offended, by someone’s words, and could not give, or share a kind word of support.
You see, loving kindness built this world, and judgment will one day have its place. Abraham taught us this lesson when asked Hashem, to save the wicked along with the righteous in that place. Isaac was not offended when the wells of his father were covered up and no longer provided living water to those who needed it. Great love, have they, who love your Torah and nothing shall offend them.
Can you not see, that the world is not a place of sin and punishment, but a place to grow, and to become like the El of Abraham, the El of Isaac and the El of Yaacov. A place of chesed, strength, and truth, all working together. Everyone working as a crew, together, to bring us to the mountain of Hashem to serve Him there. To do and to hear. That was the plan. On that day Hashem will be One and His name will be  ONE.
Hashem gave Israel a free gift in Egypt. As He defeated the Egyptians through His ten emunations and then He took us out to the place of words, and then told us, now you must do it yourselves. You must defeat, this world.

 

 

Parashat Shemot

Parashat Shemot

Exodus 1 – 6

א וְאֵ֗לֶּה שְׁמוֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַבָּאִ֖ים מִצְרָ֑יְמָה אֵ֣ת יַעֲקֹ֔ב אִ֥ישׁ וּבֵית֖וֹ בָּֽאוּ׃

ברְאוּבֵ֣ן שִׁמְע֔וֹן לֵוִ֖י וִיהוּדָֽה׃

ג יִשָּׂשכָ֥ר זְבוּלֻ֖ן וּבְנְיָמִֽן׃

ד דָּ֥ן וְנַפְתָּלִ֖י גָּ֥ד וְאָשֵֽׁר׃

 

My thoughts this week in the Torah Portion comes from a lecture I heard from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks where he states ”

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” said Moshe to God. “And how can I possibly get the Israelites out of Egypt?” On the surface the meaning is clear. Moshe is asking two things. The first: who am I, to be worthy of so great a mission? The second: how can I possibly succeed?

God never answered the first question. Perhaps in a strange way, Moshe answered himself. In Tanakh as a whole, the people who turn out to be the most worthy are the ones who deny they are worthy at all. Through a close examination of the text, we can understand Moshe’s question leading to a deeper exploration of worthiness and identity. ”

Who am I?

Seventeen years ago, I began a journey, and I still do not know where it will take me. As Rabbi Sacks spoke in his lecture on the question Moshe had, concerning, who was He/Moshe? I could identify with the book of Shemot, and I gathered a greater insight into my own question of, who am I? People often ask me, why do you care so much about where you come from? Why does it matter so much about your heritage? You were not born Jewish and you have lived as an Egyptian and a Midianite, in a place, so far away from Judaism.

Moses to was raised as a prince in Egypt, and removed from the Jewish people. Moshe was known as an Egyptian raised by an Egyptian princess in the palace of Pharoah. Moshe was also known as a Midianite, who was married to a Midianite priest’s daughter. Shemot 2:21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man; and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22 And she bore a son, and he called’ his name Gershom; for he said: ‘I have been as a stranger in a strange land.’

Moshe was never raised with the Jewish people. He never suffered or understood their thoughts and ways. Moshe did not even know if they would accept him as a Jew. I have the same question and experience.

Rabbi Sacks spoke of the similarities between Moshe and Ruth.  Just like Moshe and Ruth, I felt as a stranger in a place not my own. Just like Moshe, I was born a Jew, but I did not belong to the Jewish people. I looked like an Egyptian and acted like an Egyptian. I did not grow up Jewish, therefore, I did not belong to the Jewish people. Ruth was not Jewish by birth and therefore she did not belong to the Jewish people but both knew when they identified with the suffering and the hardship they saw and they could not walk away from the suffering of the Jewish people.

I constantly hear in Christian and Messianic chatter, that, the Jews are lacking what Christian and Messianics have. That, they have some insight given to them because of Yeshua or Jesus and the so-called New Testament. That the Jews are going to be fooled in the end and follow a false Messiah because of their lack of seeing what they see. That the Temple is a Synagogue of Satan or the Jews have the Temple mount in the wrong place. That the oral law is made up and can not be trusted.  Many of these people are Jewish or identify as Jews.  Yet, they still have this idea that because of their knowledge and belief in the Nazarean they have a superior knowledge over the Jewish sages and rabbis.

In last weeks Torah portion Parashat Va’yehi, one would be lost without the oral tradition. Genesis Chapter 49 Verse 1
(1) And Jacob called unto his sons and said: ‘Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the end of days. (2) Assemble yourselves, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; And hearken unto Israel your father. Just a straightforward reading of these two passages do not make sense without the irrevocable connection between the written and oral tradition. Ya’acov says nothing about what is going to happen to them and then gives them some obscure blessings, that really are not blessings at all if you look at them.

With that in mind, the oral traditions, and the plight of the Jewish people, the future redemption, the suffering and birth pangs to come. The Redeemer, the land of Israel, the proper understanding of the Tanach. Who is the Messiah? With all that said, “I have been a stranger in a strange land.’ Like Moshe, I could have been content living the life of an Egyptian/Midianite. Shemot 2:21  “And Moses was content to dwell with the man”.  Moshe could have lived the life of a prince in Egypt in the palace of Pharoah. Or stayed in the land of Midian. As Rabbi Sacks said, “that was where he was at, but that is not who he was”. But Moshe could not stay in either place after seeing the suffering of his people. I can no longer stay in the same place either after seeing such hatred for Jewish people.

But who was Moshe? He was not Jewish because he was not raised Jewish. He did not know the suffering of the Jew. He could not identify with their history. He was raised as an Egyptian Prince and lived forty years as an Egyptian.  Moshe spent forty years as a Midianite Shepherd and was content to live there. Moshe spent eighty years as someone other than a Jew. But, had he not been moved because of who he was who knows what his destiny might have been.

He asked Hashem “who am I”.

I too have been troubled by my own place in the Jewish world. Who am I? My grandfather is a Cohen from Mexico and I am the great-grandson of Moshe and Aaron. My mother told me, that her parents told her, not to tell anyone that they were Jewish. I am hated by my own family because I identify myself as Jewish. Moshe and Aaron, they are my grandfather’s, yet I do not know the slightest thing about the Jewish way of life and plight and suffering because I have not lived with them.

I just know that when Christians and Messianics find out, that I am Jewish, and do not believe the way they do. I can see the suffering of my people in their eyes. I can see the disdain, and pity, and feeling of sorrow they have toward the Jewish people.They believe that we are cut off from Hashem and His promises and that we are, as my cousin Messianic Rabbi Dr. Dennis Otero, says ” John 15;16  If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned “.  (see Jeremiah 11:16-17) He says that we are not part of the so-called new covenant. That we have no authority, what so ever, in Jewish law, and that, the “believers” took the place of Rabbis.

It was at the fire of the burning bush, that Moshe found his answer to, “who am I”? The burning bush is connected to Mount Sinai and there the Jewish people also found Hashem in the fire of the mountain. Hashem told Moshe, “they will know who sent you because “I will be with you”. (Not, I am, that I am” The Christian Bible misquotes the Hebrew every time in this passage)

Who I am, is where you will find, me. Shemot 2:11 “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown up, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren”.

In last weeks portion, Ya’acov told the sons of Israel to gather themselves as one man. As, in the Sephardi way, no reform, no Conservative, no Orthodox, just Jews. That is who I am.

I too am asking Hashem, “who am I to go”

Hashem has sent me to tell the Jewish people, to tell them,  stop the baseless hatred and the indifference for each other. I will not be around you because you are not Jewish enough. I am happy where I am and I don’t need anyone else outside those who think like me.

Hear what Ya’acov our forefather said, Ezekiel 37 : (18) And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying: Wilt thou not tell us what thou meanest by these? (19) say into them: Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his companions; and I will put them unto him together with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in My hand. (20) And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thy hand before their eyes. (21) And say unto them: Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they are gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; (22) and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all; (23) neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so shall they be My people, and I will be their God. (24) And My servant David shall be king over them, and they all shall have one shepherd; they shall also walk in Mine ordinances, and observe My statutes, and do them. (25) And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, they, and their children, and their children’s children, for ever; and David My servant shall be their prince for ever. (26) Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them—it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will establish them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for ever. (27) My dwelling-place also shall be over them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (28) And the nations shall know that I am the LORD that sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for ever.’

I will not stand with a people who claim, the Jews are blind, and they do not know the Messiah, and they are harlots, and teach an oral and written law that is man-made, and leads to destruction. The Torah is over and done. The New Testament is better. The Rabbi’s have no authority and we don’t follow men.

Yosef never spoke one word to his father about what his brothers did to him. Who is Messiah? 

Parashat Va’yigash Genesis 44 – 47

Parashat Va’yigash

Genesis 44 – 47

יח   וַיִּגַּ֨שׁ אֵלָ֜יו יְהוּדָ֗ה וַיֹּאמֶר֮ בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִי֒ יְדַבֶּר־נָ֨א עַבְדְּךָ֤ דָבָר֙ בְּאָזְנֵ֣י אֲדֹנִ֔י וְאַל־יִ֥חַר אַפְּךָ֖ בְּעַבְדֶּ֑ךָ כִּ֥י כָמ֖וֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹֽה׃

יט אֲדֹנִ֣י שָׁאַ֔ל אֶת־עֲבָדָ֖יו לֵאמֹ֑ר הֲיֵשׁ־לָכֶ֥ם אָ֖ב אוֹ־אָֽח׃

As we approach the city of Jerusalem moving to its rightful place in the world, the capital of Israel, and the light of the world, and as Judah moves closer to bring the Torah to its rightful place in the nations. We face a world full of hate for the Jewish people and our religion.

Our sages tell us that one day Judah will approach Joseph and they will embrace each other. As Jews pray daily for the return of Ephraim and the lost tribes we hope the meeting will be one of great joy and salvation for Klal Israel.

As we approach the seventh anniversary of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. I would say, that the last ten years have been one of great growth, and knowledge for those outside of Judaism. The nation has been learning the Oral Torah, and Kabalah, and Jewish philosophy from some of the greatest Jewish Rabbis we have to offer. This is from Hashem because He is close to making this world His dwelling place.

Much progress has been made, but still, there is a gulf between those who say, they love Israel, and the Jewish people, and their willingness to trust our Rabbis and Hashem, to save us, without following something that our forefathers never knew or were told to follow.

As Judah approaches its redemption, my prayer is that the nation would do their job and help us, the Jewish people, be the best Jews we could be, instead of trying to convert Jews to a religion that can only take us further away from  the covenants of promise, trust the God of Israel, that He will keep His promise to us and save us.

Instead of bow and sword and horseman, try Hashem and baseless love.

 Hosea1:But I will have compassion upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, nor by horses, nor by horsemen.’

And Judah approached….

Where will you be?

Parashat Miketz Genesis 41 – 44 א 

Parashat Miketz

Genesis 41 – 44

א וַיְהִ֕י מִקֵּ֖ץ שְׁנָתַ֣יִם יָמִ֑ים וּפַרְעֹ֣ה חֹלֵ֔ם וְהִנֵּ֖ה עֹמֵ֥ד עַל־הַיְאֹֽר׃

ב וְהִנֵּ֣ה מִן־הַיְאֹ֗ר עֹלֹת֙ שֶׁ֣בַע פָּר֔וֹת יְפ֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה וּבְרִיאֹ֣ת בָּשָׂ֑ר וַתִּרְעֶ֖ינָה בָּאָֽחוּ׃

 

וַיְהִ֕י מִקֵּ֖ץ  And it was in the end”.
Have you ever questioned, why you had to endure such challenges in your life?
Why has my life been lived in such a way, that it has brought about all the things that has to lead me to this place? A place of uncertainty and unrest. A place of questions and lost in space.
What is life truly about?
משלי
Proverbs 14:23 “In all labour there is profit, But the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury”. Midrash Rabbah Mikketz 2

And it was in the end that I knew the journey.  

Parashat Va’yeshev Genesis 37 – 40 וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יַעֲקֹ֔ב

א  בְּאֶ֖רֶץ מְגוּרֵ֣י אָבִ֑יו בְּאֶ֖רֶץ כְּנָֽעַן׃ 
ב אֵ֣לֶּה ׀ תֹּלְד֣וֹת יַעֲקֹ֗ב יוֹסֵ֞ף בֶּן־שְׁבַֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה שָׁנָה֙ הָיָ֨ה רֹעֶ֤ה אֶת־אֶחָיו֙ בַּצֹּ֔אן וְה֣וּא נַ֗עַר אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י בִלְהָ֛ה וְאֶת־בְּנֵ֥י זִלְפָּ֖ה נְשֵׁ֣י אָבִ֑יו וַיָּבֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶת־דִּבָּתָ֥ם רָעָ֖ה אֶל־אֲבִיהֶֽם׃
Where is Chanukah in the Torah? (see commentary at the end of the article).
Why do Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi and all other Jews treat each other with such disdain?
Where is the Beit Hamikdash?
Is Yerushalayim the light to all nations?

And he (Israel) settled in the end. (וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יַעֲקֹ֔ב)

The Torah is a blueprint for the cosmos and our world. With Chanukah just a week away. The question may be asked? Who will we be fighting in the future to free our spiritual lives? Yaakov wrestled with a man. (Himself)

Just as the Greeks tried to remove our spiritual connections to Hashem and His Torah. So, the world is busy trying to distract us from our heritage and culture as Jews.

How do we bring the light of Judaism to a world that is steeped in darkness when we as Jews continue to hate each other without a cause.

The story of Yosef is the axis for many of our pains as Jews. Today we fight between Ashkenazi and Sephardic and the many different sects within our Jewish communities.

Will our enemies ask us, when they try to destroy us, are your Sephardic or Haredi or Mizrachi, conservative or reform?

Please listen to the song “Echad”.

We, are Klal Israel, and we must make Tikkun in the end where our forefathers failed. We can not settle in the end, the way our Torah portion begins with baseless hatred for each other.

Jews must be that shining light to the nations and bring them close to Torah and Hashem. We must teach them, that, Torah is the only blueprint that Hashem has given to mankind to fix our lives.

We do not need some “heavenly escape plan” as some outside of Torah Judaism say, but we must see that our world can not survive with each one us only concerned about him or herself. We must stop this baseless hatred and bring the miracle of Or HaGanuz, “the hidden light.”

So, let us rededicate ourselves, to this hidden light, that was always there from the beginning. Let us light the light of Chanukah as we are told in Vayikra 24:”1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 ‘Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. 3 Without the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, shall Aaron order it from evening to morning before the LORD continually; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations. 4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.

(By the way what festival comes after Sukkot? Chanukah)

Let us settle, Chanukah/Dedication, in the end with giving (אהבה). Love and Torah.

Vayishlach | וישלח | “He sent “

Parashat Va’yishlah

Two portion that are connected Vayetse Yaakov meets Rachael

“…ויגש יעקב ויגל את האבן מעל פי הבאר וישק את צאן לבן אחי אמו: וישק יעקב לרחל…”. “האבן” = חן = 58. “הבאר” = יצחק = 208. “צאן” = 141. “וישק” = “רעה צאן” = “יצחק יצחק”. “רחל” = 238. “וישק” = “רחל” + “חפץ” = “יצחק יצחק”.
 How do we close the cycle of life? How do we correct our sins?  How do Ismael and Esau return to Am Israel? Many times in life do we have to go to the opposite side of things to achieve what we want to accomplish. What is it that you must go to on the opposite side to make the (apple) open and satisfy the desire of those around you?

Genesis 32 – 36

ד וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח יַעֲקֹ֤ב מַלְאָכִים֙ לְפָנָ֔יו אֶל־עֵשָׂ֖ו אָחִ֑יו אַ֥רְצָה שֵׂעִ֖יר שְׂדֵ֥ה אֱדֽוֹם׃

ה וַיְצַ֤ו אֹתָם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֣ה תֹאמְר֔וּן לַֽאדֹנִ֖י לְעֵשָׂ֑ו כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ עַבְדְּךָ֣ יַעֲקֹ֔ב עִם־לָבָ֣ן גַּ֔רְתִּי וָאֵחַ֖ר עַד־עָֽתָּה׃

House of The Water Pouring