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Thursday, April 8, 2021

"To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate, That is the Question"

 

“To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate – That is the Question.”

            In his play, Hamlet, William Shakespeare made the line famous, “To be or not to be…”. The great question facing most Americans today is whether to vaccinate, or not, against the Covid-19 virus. Before giving a spiritual, pastoral answer to this dilemma, I first want to summarize the description of the landscape surrounding this conundrum within this brief article. Since the beginning of this global pandemic, the Covid virus has literally brought out the best and the worst of humanity. This issue, as with just about every other issue, has become highly dramatized and politicized in and by the media. Social media has not helped this situation either, it has only made it worse. It has gotten to the point, that no matter where one stands on the issue, you are damned if you do or damned if you don’t; and inevitably someone around you will take offense in disagreement over your choice either way on the matter. Gone are the days of civil disagreements. Today, if someone disagrees with you, you are villainized and hated by your opposition. We can go even farther back to the fall of 2016, after the Presidential elections, remember all the coverage of the inability of family celebrations of Thanksgiving? The effects of the political climate deteriorated to the level where most every family in the United States was impacted. For the subsequent four years virtually every holiday season saw families torn apart and unable to even sit at the table together. Remember reading all the advice columns on how to interact with aunts and uncles, parents and adult children who differed on politics? It is sad to see that the condition has not improved and now Covid has only contributed to the polarizing of American society.

            Now, we turn our attention to the issue at hand, the choice to vaccinate or not. I will answer this in context of a Messianic rabbi serving a Messianic Jewish community, within our relatively small Messianic movement worldwide. As Messianic Jews, we are all too familiar with being marginalized.  By nature, our very existence stirs up controversy. Many Messianic biblical commentators have paraphrased Rav Shaul’s words in 1 Cor. 4, to describe the survival of the Messianic Jew:

For it seems to me that God has put us, the emissaries, [Messianic Jews] on display last of all—like men sentenced to death. For we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. We are fools for Messiah’s sake, but you are wise in Messiah! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored! To this very hour we are both hungry and thirsty, dressed in rags and mistreated and homeless. We toil, working with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure. When we are slandered, we speak kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the dregs of all things—even to this moment. (1 Cor. 4:9-13).[1]

 

We have chosen our lot, and most of us have counted the cost with our decision to follow Yeshua of Nazareth. As difficult as that naturally is, it not as unbearable as when your opponent comes from your own mishpocha. We all know what Yeshua warned, “…and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” (Matt. 10:36). However, my hermeneutical understanding, and I would venture to say most of our understanding of this pesuk is referring to our literal family members who are not born-again believers in the Messiah. Unfortunately, we are coming to learn very quickly that we must reevaluate our own exegesis and expand our definition of “mishpocha”. It is now our spiritual family within our own Messianic congregations. With the onset of the global pandemic, we now see that another virus has infected the Body of Messiah, and it isn’t Covid. The Jewish element of the Body of Messiah is suffering from the same acute case of שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם “sinat chinam”[2], the same dysfunction we are witnessing in society in general.

            The Messianic Jewish movement has reflected the same behavior as the wider gentile world when it comes to the divisions over Covid-19. Opinions are broad on the topic of this pandemic, if it can even be described this way; some would take exception. To some in our movement it is a serious pandemic to others it is nothing but a conspiracy, a “plan-demic”; and for others it is anything in between. Regardless, of how one feels about it, many are frightened less of the virus itself, but more scared to even share their opinion about it! This condition has considerably affected the communal life within the Messianic synagogue as well. Speaking for myself, as a rabbi, I can say with certainty that while most laymen have tremendous opinions on the subject of Covid, little if any of them understand what it is like to be in the seat where the buck stops, and the leaders’ decisions can impact the health and well-being of every member of the kehillah, from the 90 year-old Holocaust survivor, to the infant who just had his bris, both those in perfect health, and those who suffer terrible conditions. Lots of people have lots of opinions, but it is usually based on their own personal perspective with little to no consideration of how their actions, opinions, denunciations of those they disagree with affect others. A critical spirit has infected the Messianic movement and this essay is a word of warning to all of us.

            It has been almost one year since the Governor of our State issued orders requiring all Ohioans to wear a mask in all public places. Only one week before that order was issued in the summer of 2020, I and my board had made our own decision that we would require the same policy at our synagogue. We made our decision, not out of fear, but in consideration for every one of our sheep, even those whom we knew were fighting major life-threatening conditions such as cancer, of whom several were already getting radiation, and chemo therapy. We had no idea at that time how this decision would have such a ripple effect. Within one week I had several letters on my desk from families who were offended by this decision and immediately withdrew their membership (without even a discussion), all at the same time! The angry tones of the letters and the amount of kvetching was tangible. One would think that we as a board had unilaterally decided to burn down our own synagogue by the way many in our community were behaving. However, others were grateful and expressed their appreciation and agreement with the Board’s decision. This reminded me that again, when it comes to this issue, you are “damned if you do or damned if you don’t.”  We cannot please everyone. The decision over the mask though was only the beginning.

            Now, we all face another decision, to vaccinate ourselves and our children or not. As soon as word came out that vaccines were coming, I braced myself for what I knew was about to come: additional controversies and rhetoric, especially on social media. What I now see happening among the flock are sometimes vicious responses to anyone who disagrees with a perspective on the vaccine. Some believe it is a “godsend”, while others believe it is the “mark of the beast”. May God help you if you choose to express your own opinion, especially on social media! Here we go again! So, rabbi where do you stand? Everyone asks the rabbi all kinds of things. Do you know what it is like to have your cell phone on and active on the Eve of Pesach when everyone is trying to remove chometz from their homes? All the halachic questions that come in…you either turn your phone off or you hire a hotline to field them all. Imagine now, what it is like, should I get the vaccine or not?  Let’s ask the rabbi…

            So here is what the rabbi is going to say. We all know that there is a disproportionate number of Jews in the medical field. With all the Jewish doctors, we also know come all the Jewish attorneys who are hired to sue the Jewish doctors for malpractice! Jews have always dominated the medical industry and have contributed arguably more than all others, just count the number of Jewish Nobel Prize winners for science and medicine! For a population that is less than 1% of the earth’s population that says something. It is simply not Jewish to oppose medicine. There are cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and others like Scientologists who refuse medical treatment based on religious observance; and that is their Constitutional right, in so far as the law limits that in some cases. Nevertheless, it is virtually the same as finding kosher pork in the meat section, as it would be to find a Jew who refuses medical attention due to “religious reasons”. Even Orthodox rabbis will give a “rabbinical dispensation” to any Frum Jew who requires medicine that contains non-kosher resin to sustain life! Yet, we now find many militant Messianics who believe they are the judge and the jury ready to condemn anyone who does choose to vaccinate; and humiliate them on social media. Yet, before Covid came around, would we find these same people consider expressing attacks against those who choose chemotherapy? Somehow, now that this issue is so political, many Messianics feel it is their duty to shame anyone who chooses to get vaccinated. This is the plain fact. In so far as Jehovah Witnesses and Scientologists have the God-given right to choose to refrain from medical attention on certain matters, so too does any American have the right to choose to refrain from any vaccine, in my opinion. (Yes, you finally heard the rabbi’s opinion). No one should be forced against their own conscience to be vaccinated. Likewise, those who do choose to exercise their own right to receive such a vaccination should also be free to do so expecting the same respect that others are given. There should be mutual love and respect given, ESPECIALLY TO A BROTHER/SISTER IN THE LORD, who chooses either way. The judgmental spirit that is being exercised in our movement is sickening and is worse than Covid-19 itself! There is more to the issue, however.

            It is not only un-Jewish to be anti-medicine, but also unbiblical. The Bible says many things about medicine:

 

2 Kings 20:7 Then Isaiah said, “Take a cake of figs.” So, they took one and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.

 

Revelation 22:2 down the middle of the city’s street. On either side of the river was a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

 

Jeremiah 51:8 Suddenly Babylon is fallen! Shattered! Howl over her! Bring balm for her wound. Perhaps she may be healed?

 

Isaiah 1:6 From the foot to the head there is no soundness. Wounds, bruises, and raw sores: not pressed, nor bandaged, nor softened with oil.

 

1 Timothy 5:23 (No longer drink only water but use a little wine for your stomach and for your frequent ailments.)

 

Luke 10:33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came upon him; and when he noticed the man, he felt compassion. 34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then setting him on his own animal, he brought him to a lodge for travelers and took care of him.

 

Let me be clear, however, I am NOT advocating that everyone go get vaccinated. What I am saying is that everyone needs to make their own decision based on their own relationship with God and be directed by their own conscience. Furthermore, Godly Leadership, AND GODLY GOVERNMENT – AND GODLY BROTHERS AND SISTERS SHOULD NEVER DO OR SAY ANYTHING TO VIOLATE SOMEONE’S CONSCIENCE! Everyone deserves the respect due to their own choice, and along with that choice, there are consequences. There are consequences on both sides of the issue, and all these consequences need to be weighed carefully and in prayer by each individual. If you choose to vaccinate, there are consequences such as the possibility you may be allergic to it. There is a small number of those who have even died from reactions to one. There could be other consequences not even foreseen, perhaps it may not work as well as we thought? On the other hand, those who choose not to vaccinate will no doubt experience consequences as well. Those without vaccinations could experience discrimination from some public services or access to certain services as well. Other consequences could include infection from exposure to the Covid virus even carried by others who enjoy a level of immunity due to their vaccination. These are just some preliminary possibilities off the cuff; more consequences could be discovered in the future. We must all realize that these decisions are not easy for anyone. There are also many variables for everyone, individually. Each person must consider their own individual health issues, their age, their employment status (some work in the medical field), whether they have dependents, etc. It is just completely out of order for ANY Messianic believer to shame, condemn, ridicule, slander, embarrass or call out anyone, let alone another believer for their personal choice that may differ from yours! I question the intentions of the heart of Messianic believers who behave this way, it is a שאַנדע Shanda”![3] I cannot express the level of disappointment I feel when I witness believers acting and speaking this way in the judgment of others who make their own decisions they may not agree with. Therefore, I will give my final word on this matter, first to those who are being attacked, I remind you from the words of Rav Shaul, in paraphrase form: “Therefore, do not let anyone pass judgment on you in matters of food or drink, or in respect to a festival or new moon or Shabbat, [or Vaccine]. (Col. 2:16). And for those of you who are behaving foolishly, the words of our same Shaliach, even while originally speaking of food; his admonishment also applies: “For the one who is weak is destroyed by your knowledge—the brother for whom Messiah died. In this way, when you sin against the brothers and sisters and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Messiah.” (1 Cor. 8:11-12).

 



[1] All Scripture is from the TLV, unless otherwise noted. This verse paraphrased for emphasis.

 

[2] Heb. “Baseless hatred”; an idea that Judaism offers as to the reason for the destruction of the 2nd Temple. That Jews hated each other so much that God allowed the Romans to come and destroy Jerusalem.

[3] Yiddish, a word that expresses a shameful act of one Jew against another Jew that makes all Jews look bad in the eyes of the goyim (gentiles).

Friday, April 2, 2021

Do Messianic Jews celebrate Yeshua's Resurrection

 This is a question that seems to always come at this time of year. Here is a 2-point teaching I have given on the subject:

I.           Sefirat HaOmer & Messiah Yeshua

John 12: 23  Yeshua gave them this answer: “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24  Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest.

The Barley harvest begins right during Pesach, and we know that this is the season in which Messiah Yeshua died and gave His life as atonement for our sin.

Alfred Edersheim comments…

The Sheaf of Firstfruits

A little later on in the evening of that same day, just as it was growing dark, a noisy throng followed delegates from the Sanhedrim outside the city and across the brook Kedron. It was a very different procession, and for a very different purpose, from the small band of mourners which, just about the same time, carried the body of the dead Saviour from the cross to the rock-hewn tomb wherein no man had yet been laid. While the one turned into 'the garden' (John 20:15), perhaps to one side, the other emerged, amidst loud demonstrations, in a field across Kedron, which had been marked out for the purpose. They were to be engaged in a service most important to them. It was probably to this circumstance that Joseph of Arimathea owed their non-interference with his request for the body of Jesus, and Nicodemus and the women, that they could go undisturbed about the last sad offices of loving mourners. The law had it, 'Ye shall bring a sheaf [literally the omer] of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest; and he shall wave the omer before Jehovah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it' (Lev 23:10,11). This Passover-sheaf, or rather omer, was to be accompanied by a burnt-offering of a 'he lamb, without blemish, of the first year,' with its appropriate meat- and drink-offering, and after it had been brought, but not till then, fresh barley might be used and sold in the land. Now, this Passover-sheaf was reaped in public the evening before it was offered, and it was to witness this ceremony that the crowd gathered around 'the elders,' who took care that all was done according to traditionary ordinance.  (Edersheim, 1889 circa)

What we see here is that it was Yeshua himself, his own death that fulfilled the first fruit of the Omer of Barley, right at the exact time.

And it was his resurrection that shows the significance of this holiday…

I Corinth. 15: 20 ¶  But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. 21  For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man.

22  For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive. 23  But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming; 24  then the culmination, when he hands over the Kingdom to God the Father, after having put an end to every rulership, yes, to every authority and power. 25  For he has to rule until he puts all his enemies under his feet.

Messiah’s death & resurrection was the culmination and the requirement of the Sefirat HaOmer.

Sefirat HaOmer is the commandment to (Count the Omer see Lev. 23:15) and it foreshadows for us what was to come in the Messiah. As a bride counts down the days to her wedding, we likewise begin counting from the Passover until Shavuot (Pentecost).

But I want you to notice that a Bikur is just the beginning.  While Messiah is the first fruit, there is coming a big Harvest…

II.          Harvest Time

Mark 4: 26  And he said, “The Kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground. 27  Nights he sleeps, days he’s awake; and meanwhile, the seeds sprout and grow!- how he doesn’t know.

28  By itself the soil produces a crop!- first the stalk, then the head, and finally the full grain in the head. 29  But as soon as the crop is ready, the man comes with his sickle, because it’s harvest-time.”

The second harvest is the harvest of Wheat.

Edersheim says,

Pentecost

The 'Feast of Unleavened Bread' may be said not to have quite passed till fifty-days after its commencement, when it merged in that of Pentecost, or 'of Weeks.' According to unanimous Jewish tradition, which was universally received at the time of Christ, the day of Pentecost was the anniversary of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, which the Feast of Weeks was intended to commemorate. Thus, as the dedication of the harvest, commencing with the presentation of the first omer on the Passover, was completed in the thank-offering of the two wave-loaves at Pentecost, so the memorial of Israel's deliverance appropriately terminated in that of the giving of the Law— as, making the highest application of it, the Passover sacrifice of the Lord Jesus may be said to have been completed in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Jewish tradition has it, that on the 2nd of the third month, or Sivan, Moses had ascended the Mount (Exo 19:1-3), that he communicated with the people on the 3rd (Exo 19:7), reascended the Mount on the 4th (Exo 19:8), and that then the people sanctified themselves on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of Sivan, on which latter day the ten commandments were actually given them (Exo 19:10-16). *  (Edersheim, 1889 circa)

The Wave-loaves Were Leavened

Contrary to the common rule of the Sanctuary, these loaves were leavened, which, as the Mishnah, informs us (Men. v. 1), was the case in all thank-offerings. The common explanation— the wave-loaves were leavened because they represented the ordinary food of the people— partially accounts for this. No doubt these wave-loaves expressed the Old Testament acknowledgment of the truth which our Lord embodied in the prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' But this is not all. Let it be remembered that these two loaves, with the two lambs that formed part of the same wave-offering, were the only public peace- and thank-offerings of Israel; that they were accompanied by burnt- and sin-offerings; and that, unlike ordinary peace-offerings, they were considered as 'most holy.' Hence they were leavened, because Israel's public thank-offerings, even the most holy, are leavened by imperfectness and sin, and they need a sin-offering. This idea of a public thank-offering was further borne out by all the services of the day. First, the two lambs were 'waved' while yet alive; that is, before being made ready for use. Then, after their sacrifice, the breast and shoulder, or principal parts of each, were laid beside the two loaves, and 'waved' (generally towards the east) forwards and back wards, and up and down. *  (Edersheim, 1889 circa)

Keep this idea of waiving the offerings while alive in your mind for a moment….

The point I am trying to make here is that Shavuot speaks of a “Harvest” that is to come. 

We are that Harvest.  It is a revival of G-d’s Jewish people coming to Him in repentance and faith in the Messiah.

Is it any wonder then why so many came to Messiah on Shavuot when the Spirit of G-d was poured out in ACTS 2?

Ephesians 1:14
That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it--to the praise of His glory.

What Rabbi Shaul is saying here is that the Ruach is the first fruits of our salvation and guarantee, a deposit of our inheritance of eternal life and atonement for our sins. 

Just as during the wheat harvest a sin offering was given with the omer of wheat, so too during this season was the Ruach given along with the atonement in Messiah Yeshua for the forgiveness of our sin.

This was the only time leavened grain was offered in the Temple…

The point is that we are that leavening, we represent sin, but the sin offering that accompanied the wheat is the Messiah.

We are the Harvest and we too are first fruits…

James 1:18
And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth, so that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself].

The Messianic Jewish movement today is the continuation of this Harvest.  Messiah is gathering his people, Israel, and those from among the nations who will join His People to be an offering of first fruits unto the L-rd.

That is what this season represents, let us remember today the offering that was made on our behalf and give thanks to Hashem for Messiah Yeshua!

Bibliography

Edersheim, A. (1889 circa). The Temple. Eerdmans Pub Co.


NOTE: Resurrection then is not just a one-day event - Yeshua's resurrection took place during Passover, and during Passover at our Seder, we Messianic Jews remember Yeshua's Yahrzeit (memorial of His death) at this time and we break the Afikomen, (the Matzah that is broken, buried and then brought back) as His body as He taught us to do. We drink the Third Cup of the Seder that is a reminder of His Blood... but then we begin counting the days to Shavuot which is a reminder of our Resurrection. You see it was on that day in Acts 2 that 3,000 Jews were born again in one day. That event, not only was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit but restoration, a kind of resurrection of the 3,000 Jewish souls that perished at the hands of the Levites for worshiping the Golden Calf, Ex. 34. I'm not saying those who worshiped the calf were resurrected, but what I am saying is that God restored 3,000 new souls into the Kingdom of Heaven that day on Shavuot (Pentecost). This is the promise of what is to come for us. So there you have it, Messianic Jews do observe the Resurrection!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Update from one of Tikvat's Shaliachim (Missions) in Jerusalem... CONTINUED FROM EMAIL...

The story continued from email ...

"And so began the search for Yeshua. As his final exams were getting close, Mordechai reached out to the congregations in Jerusalem to see if anyone would talk to him about Yeshua. Only our ministry responded.

Mordechai and our Shaliach meet three times a week, each time for several hours discussing, arguing, reading, studying the Scriptures. As his faith grew in Yeshua, he also felt more uncomfortable in the Yeshiva. So he quit his job with Chabad and began sharing his faith with his family and with some of his fellow yeshiva students. Mordechai wants to be immersed and to go on to study in a Bible College to become a Shepherd in Messianic Judaism. His dream is now to plant a congregation in a Jewish neighborhood and create a community of Jews and Gentile followers of Messiah. A nice dream to be sure. Our Shaliachim can assist in getting Mordechai a scholarship to study at a Bible College. We cannot provide meaningful employment in Jerusalem due to the pandemic and lockdowns. Mordechai has no further income from Chabad as he has left that position. So it is time for the Body of Messiah to step up and be counted.

We need to provide Mordechai with a basic salary to survive in Israel for six months. As Acts 2vs42 says, "They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching, and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to the prayers."  So during the 6 months before Bible College, Mordechai will be immersed, he will join the Messianic community, he will continue to learn the Gospels, the Bible and make the connections between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Mordechai also needs to meet other believers, both Jewish, and Gentile (including Arab believers). We will teach him the prayers, both liturgical and personal (although he does that already)."

PLEASE HELP TIKVAT GIVE MORE TO OUR MISSIONS GIVE HERE 
 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Post-Election Anxiety Stress Disorder Syndrome

There is a new diagnosis out now for people who are psychologically stressed out with anxiety, fear and lack of sleep, and other symptoms. Like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder we now have Post-Election Stress Disorder!  Many people are feeling this because this election has been so hotly contested, the country has been so divided politically for years, and the record number of turn out all proves that tensions are exceedingly high in this race.  Power and control are at the center of this.  People want certain power and control within the government.  At least they want their "man" to be the one in the Oval Office.  Many Americans right at this moment are enraged at the way this election has been handled. There are stories of corruption, poll authorities refusing to allow legal poll watchers from witnessing and preventing fraud during the count. Other stories of mysterious caches of ballots appearing out of nowhere (after the deadline of election day) and every single one suspiciously just happens to be a vote for only one candidate. And many other testimonies of ballots without certified signatures and even ballots cast from deceased and illegal aliens, and even pets!  There appears to be a lot of fraud going on! This is what has so many people stressed out!  So how should Messianic believers handle this situation?

        First, we need to be reminded about what the Word of God says about these matters.  When it comes to power and control from a spiritual perspective, we see that those who vie for these things are engaging in witchcraft.  Witchcraft really is all about power and control and taking whatever means to acquire it.  One of the most sinister Biblical figures who practiced witchcraft is Jezebel.  When you see lies and fraud like this, you are seeing the Jezebel Spirit at work!  Messianic Rabbi Curt Landry defines the Jezebel Spirit this way, "The Jezebel spirit attacks governmental leaders—both men and women. It wants to steer groups of people, usually those who are for God’s Kingdom prospering, away from their destiny. It uses the role of leadership to control and manipulate behind the scenes. You see this same behavior in Queen Jezebel as she manipulated King Ahab."1  This election, just like any election is about power and control, however, there are fair and Godly ways to go about the transfer of power.  The Spirit of Jezebel, however, does not settle for that, that spirit acquires it stealthily and through intrigue, and deception. 

Recall what Jezebel did...

1 Kings 21 Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, next to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 Ahab spoke to Naboth saying, “Give me your vineyard, so I may have it for a garden of herbs, since it’s right next to my house. I’ll give you a better vineyard than it in exchange, or if it seems better to you, I’ll give you its price in money.”

3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “Adonai forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

So Ahab went into his house sullen and resentful because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him, when he said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face and would eat no food.

5 Then his wife Jezebel came to him and asked him, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you are eating no food?”

6 Then he told her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and asked him: ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or if it pleases you, I’ll give you another vineyard for it,’ but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 Then his wife Jezebel said to him, “Now, do you really govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, eat some food, and let your heart be merry! I will get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. 9 She wrote in the letters saying, “Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10 Then seat two sons of Belial before him, and let them testify against him saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 So the men of his city—the elders and the nobles who lived in his city—did just as Jezebel had bid them, just as was written in the letters that she had sent to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast then seated Naboth at the head of the people. 13 Then the two worthless men came in and sat before him, and the worthless men testified against him, against Naboth, before the people saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king!” Then they carried him out of the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel saying, “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”

15 Now when Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to sell you for money—for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite to take possession of it.

        What does the Bible say about giving false testimony?  What do we know about fraud and forgery?  Notice how Jezebel's plot involved the forgery of her husband's signature.  Notice the false testimony she arranged with the "worthless men"; and notice that this whole plot even involved murder!  This Jezebel spirit stops at nothing to get what they want, and it NEVER plays by the rules. Jezebel's plot eventually failed, she was killed and stomped underfoot by the horse of Jehu, and the dogs ate her flesh. What is the lesson for us?

        God sees everything.  There is no fraud, there is no corruption, there is no criminal activity that Hashem fails to notice.  Yeshua said, 

"For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor secret that shall not be known and come into open view." (Luke 8:17). 

We all can take comfort in knowing that no matter what happens, even with this election, God will avenge His enemies. We do not have to worry.  Our Messiah also encouraged us with these words, 

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as dovesBut beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings because of Me, as a witness to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you should say, for it shall be given to you in that hour what you should say. For it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matt. 10:16-20). 

We have the Ruach Hakodesh, with us to take a stand against that Spirit of Jezebel.  This is a Spiritual Battle we are in; our lives are all one big Spiritual Warfare.  We must fight in the Spirit, through prayer, fasting and proclaiming the Word of God, and counting on the Ruach to give us the exact words to say at the exact time they should be said. 

We are His servants, and we stand for righteousness.  We do not condone fraud, forgery, and false testimony on either said of the political spectrum, Conservative or Liberal.  Do not be worried, do not fear and do not let your heart be troubled by what you are seeing. Our God will have the ultimate victory, let your faith be your comfort and your sight!  Amen.

Rabbi Eric 

 

 1 “Jezebel Spirit in Men,” Curt Landry Ministries (blog), February 27, 2020, https://www.curtlandry.com/jezebel-spirit-in-men/.

 


Friday, September 11, 2020

Introducing the Shabbos Table Project & Light to the Nations

Shalom,

I would like to introduce you to a new campaign I am excited to be embarking on.  Don't worry, it's not political!  Nor am I running for any office!  I think we are all tired of "campaigns" in that sense.  No, it is a campaign to repair and revive the American Family Unit!  It is commonly known among believers that over the last 7 decades the American Family has been under assault from all kinds of attacks to erode morality, family-values, the Bible, God, faith, creationism, and everything that promotes pro-American values and citizenship, and the Constitution of the U.S.  

The attack has been a strategy of loosening moral norms in our society with "revolutions" of open sexual relationships without any boundaries (immorality and whatever feels good is engaged and celebrated).  Since the '60s we've introduced the summer of free love, removed prayer and the Bible from ever being mentioned in our schools, (taught our children they evolved from monkeys), changed our laws to encourage an increase of divorce rates, (in the past adultery was ILLEGAL), not anymore most all States in the Union are all "no-fault" States.  Even sodomy was illegal at one time and still is, but those laws are all ignored.  We've murdered our own children in the millions, destroyed the value of fatherhood, removed our mothers from the home by making it economically impossible to survive without them working full time and either having 2 incomes or at least collecting child support, we've increased dependence of the government just to eat... (we've seen since COVID, the effects of this when schools were shut down, millions of American children were going hungry without school-supplied breakfast and lunch).  Speaking of schools, American Civics hasn't been taught in our educational system for at least a generation!  American children and high school, and even college graduates do not even know the basics of the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence anymore!

So is it any surprise that our cities are now burning down by "peaceful protesters"?  

As a Messianic Jewish believer, and a rabbi, I see it as my job to encourage the family any way I can, not only for Messianic Jews in my own community - but as an American, a spiritual leader, and one who speaks to the Christian Gentile Church - we have a strategy to restore our families first!  Once the American family is restored, then I believe we will begin to see a restoration of our nation.  

How can this happen?  Messianic Jews have a little secret that we can share with our Gentile Christian brothers.  We have something hidden, that most believers do not know or understand.  It is a spiritual tool and a strategy that is quite practical, and it is so simple that if a family devotes itself to it, and also making it fun and a new family tradition, it can and it will transform our families from being a group of people who just roommate with each other under the same roof; ignoring each other while our faces are buried in tiny little screens of light from devices that we pull out of our pockets; into a real family that actually interacts deeply with each other, and wants to spend time together.  What is this tool, you ask?  It is called a "Shulcan" - or in English... a Table.

Yes, a Table.  Now don't roll your eyes at this post just yet.  Hear me out.  Don't think I'm meshugganah just quite yet!!!

You see the Table was something all families had at one time.  We all still have the physical table, but we are rarely using it the way a Table should be used.  Therein lies the key to understanding this little secret we have.  You see, around the early '50s, with the advent of the TV, and the frozen TV dinners, (and fast-food joints) American families began to change the way they spent time together and the way they ate their meals and the way they interacted with each other through communication and strengthening family relationships and bonds.  Children learned to love and respect their parents, at the Table.  At the Table, families shared with each other about their day, they laughed with each other and they interacted with each other in deep and meaningful ways.  Each family developed their own traditions, (similar to the concept of Thanksgiving), everyone tries to sit down at the table for turkey and "the fixins"; but even that is no longer sacred with the advent of "BLACK FRIDAY".... now many American families just order "take out" for Thanksgiving! Oy!

The sacredness of The Table, and how it is used has been virtually, totally lost and we've paid a heavy price for that!!!

So, this brings me to the campaign.  I have had a ministry since 2011, called Light to the Nations.  It wasn't much, just a little ministry where I would reach out to Christians and share the Bible with them from a Messianic Jewish perspective.  Now, however, there has been such a shift in the American culture, our society is so divided over our values and our norms and our Biblical way of life, that I feel now very strongly that I need to take what I know, to be the secret strategy to keep the family strong and share it with EVERYONE!

So, I have decided to call it, "THE SHABBOS TABLE PROJECT".  American Jews, who are at least the tiniest bit observant all have this special table.  Even if they never use their tables all week long, there is at least one night out of the week, where the entire family gathers around that table for dinner, and it is special.  Like Thanksgiving, its a holiday every Friday evening.  No distractions, no cell phones, no interruptions.  The family starts by mom lighting candles, (yes candlelight dinner!), it improves the ambiance and sets the mood for the specialness of this family tradition.  Songs are then sung with joy, even families can clap their hands.  Some special prayers are recited for thanking God for our family and for this special time.  After that, the special meal is shared and there's no rushing away, nowhere to go, and no time limits, the family can enjoy their meals together and making this a new family tradition.

My campaign is to go online, on Shabbat (Friday evenings) for about 30 minutes, and teaching families the "How To's" of starting this little Shabbos Table Project together so that they can begin to do it on their own.  I want to give them the knowledge and the tools to use their Shabbos Table properly, and to maximize its effects on your family.  Imagine all your kids getting excited all week long for Friday night at home with their own family!  Imagine what it would feel like to have Thanksgiving every Friday night, with the whole family actually "WANTING" to be together!  Can you imagine the kind of impact on the way your family starts to relate to each other?  

Now, I'm not going to lie to you.  It may sound simple, have dinner on Friday night, right?  Not so.  There are always distractions and "other things" that pull your family apart.  The teenagers want to go out with their friends.  Dad would rather watch the game on TV!  Your wife may not want to do any cooking on Friday due to just being tired from working all day, Dad too!  There is always some kind of opposition to this - be prepared for that.

It is NOT easy to start new family traditions.  Mom and Dad have to be dedicated and in agreement that this is an effort to use their Table to strengthen their family.  It can be done.  You start out with "baby-steps".  Perhaps, you can't do it every week?  That's ok, once a month is better than nothing!  But just starting is the step in the right direction.

The Shabbos Table Project also has a dual benefit.  Not only are you investing in your family and strengthing it...but you are leaning to do something that really pleases God, and that you are commanded to do!  What is it?

It is learning how to sanctify the Sabbath!  Yes, how to initiate, sanctify, and start the Sabbath by separating it from the rest of the week!  This is actually commanded in the Bible.  But most Christians have lost all connection to what a Sabbath really is!  I will teach you "HOW TO" do the Sabbath with your family, I will encourage you with a short word to spiritually prepare you for the special time together over your meal.  I will teach you some prayers and songs.  Your whole family can learn together...and eventually, you won't need me anymore at your Shabbos Table, eventually, your family with grow in the tradition hopefully, feel the benefits, and do it all on your own one day.  Even if you're single, you can get your friends together to do this as well!  Anyone, couples without children are also encouraged - better to start now creating your family tradition BEFORE you bring the kids into the picture!

That's it.  The Shabbos Table Project.  So, how do we get in on this?

Go to my website www.L2N.org and scroll down to the banner that says Shabbos Table Project, click it and learn more, and how to register and start participating with me.  

This campaign begins Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, @ 6:46 PM.  EST (18 minutes before sundown), you can log in and I'll be there with you at your Shabbos Table!

There are instructions and even some guides on how to prepare on the website.  Please, check it out!  Please also pray for this effort.  Pray that it is effective and that many families will be strengthened and restored, the benefits are infinite for generations to come.

Thank you so very much,

Rabbi Eric  

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mandatory Mask Announcement


Gov. Dewine's New Executive Order

Tue, 7 July 2020
15th of Tamuz, 5780
From the Elders of Tikvat Yisrael:


Attention: All Members & Friends of Tikvat Yisrael,

Due to Gov. Dewine's order today, making the wearing of masks mandatory in Level 3 virus affected areas, and the recent increase in cases of Covid-19, we believe the best way to protect our Tikvat family and visitors that choose to attend is to now require all members to wear a mask.  

There are still many members with current health issues--and we understand and support you and your decision to remain at home at this time.  Again your health is our main concern.  
While the mask is an inconvenience, we are thankful we can continue to meet. Social distancing of 6-feet does not completely protect us in closed area for 90-120 minutes where the germs linger in the air.  

With that said, we believe following this key recommendation of several health organizations and some common senses-with help to insure the safety of everyone who attends.   We continue to pray for the Lord's mercy on Tikvat, Cleveland, our nation and the world-and we look forward to moving to a less restrictive time.

Am I my brother's keeper?   Gen. 4:9

Thank you for all your prayers and support.
Sincerely,  

Board of Elders: Dr. Larry & Cheryl Morrison, Rabbi Elliott & Nancy Katz, Joyce Iammarino, Rabbi Eric & Gisela Lakatos
Tikvat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue
9319 Mayfield Rd.
Chesterland, OH. 44026


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

2ND CAR ACCIDENT FOR EVA!


From Chery Morrison (Eva's grandmother):
Cheryl here: 
      My granddaughter, Eva & my daughter Lauren were just in a car accident!!  Both cars were totaled. Coming off a bridge, Lauren went through a light she swears was green. Witnesses were half & half on whether it was green or red. Lauren got sited! The guy she hit was a young man who had no license & tested positive for drugs & alcohol. He’s in jail. Lauren thinks her sternum is cracked. They can’t fix that. It just has to heal, but painful. Air bags went off, of course. Eva is ok, but the will be talking to her Trauma team & she has to go to the hospital every week to have her liver checked. Thank God her tube didn’t get jerked out of her liver! The car they were in, my son-in-law just got to replace the one from Eva’s accident.  Please pray for both of them & that this guy sitting in jail.

We’ve all had enough!! I believe this is Satan. Truly I do!