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Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Re'eh

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Re’eh Deuteronomy 11:26- 16:18

From the beginning of the scripture in Deuteronomy 11:26 to Deuteronomy 16:17, there is a pattern of life for the believer’s life in worship through obedience, selflessness, and maybe most of all, the pathway to Yahweh’s eternal kingdom. It all starts with a choice to be either obedient or disobedient to His commandments.

Re’eh is translated “see”. The complete understanding of this word is, “sight, the inheritance of God by the Ruach”. An exegesis of Re’eh from the word etymology of the Hebrew gives the understanding of, “light of God brought down to man as an inheritance” and indicates light as an energy source which comes from God as an inheritance imparting “sight” the gift of God. It takes light to see. Without the Light of God, mankind could not see or perceive truth. Moshe is telling us to “See”

Living in the Light of His Word

Moshe says to them “Behold (Re’eh) I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing if you obey/hearken (shema)... and the curse if you do not obey/hearken (shema)”. As the rabbis point out, to hear (shema) is a metaphor for blessing, while to not hear (lo-shema) is a metaphor for cursing (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 999).

Many today do not “see” obedience to Yahweh’s commandments as a blessing. They truly think that they will be more blessed by following their own understanding of what is to their profit, therein disobeying Him. It becomes selective hearing. The choice is always ours as to what we inherit. Our misguided self-centred thinking will make choices that we perceive to be to good in that they satisfy our desires, but we will reap destruction from disobedience - i.e. refusing His instruction and going off according to our own understanding. Galatians 6: 7-8

In Hebraic thought and according to the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘shema’, hearing and doing, are synonymous. If one hears, but does not do what he has heard, then he has not heard. Obviously, hearing, Hebraically, is more than an auditory function, but involves the heart resulting in corresponding actions resulting in either blessing (if one hears and obeys Yahweh’s Word) or cursing (if one does not hear and obey Yahweh’s Word). (11:27-28)

Scripture prophesies that in the future a problem would arise among the people of Yahweh. The problem would not be a famine of food and water, but of the ability to hear (shema) and to do the Word of God (Amos 8:11). Likewise, Isaiah prophesied that there would be those who would say (or “draw near with their mouths”) but who would not do (“but their hearts are far from me”) (Isa. 29:13). Yeshua accused the religious people of that time of the same thing (Matt. 15:8-9). We need to examine our words and corresponding actions to judge ourselves, as to whether our actions perfectly align to our profession of faith, or do we stand convicted before Yahweh of disobedience and/or hypocrisy?

The Blessing and the Curse

This week the Reeh portion continues Moshe’s admonitions to the sons of Israel by listing a number of commandments that keep one spiritually orientated and which when obeyed results in blessings, but when disobeyed cause us to become disconnected from Yahweh and the result is that we become a recipient of the curses.

The opening verses spell out the dire warnings and establish this theme for the balance of the reading: “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known” (Deut. 11:26-28).

A choice is presented to them, the way of blessing or the way of the curse. What they reap will depend on how they ‘shema’ (hear) His Word and do it. The two mountains which would signify the blessing and the curse are Eval and Gerizim. The mountain Eval, 940 meters above sea level, faces the north, and Gerizim, 880 meters above sea level, faces the south. In the valley between the two mountains is the city of Shechem. There was an important road that led through that valley. It was Israel’s line of contact with the rest of the world. It was a meeting place for travelers who came from the north, south, east, and west. This was the place where Avraham built his first altar, see Genesis 12:6-7, and where Yosef was buried, see Joshua 24:32.

Moshe just cannot get away from his mantra to the children of Israel regarding the necessity to obey the commandments, statutes and ordinances of the Eternal One. Without a doubt, Moshe is most concerned about the propensity for the sons of Israel to follow after strange gods, having witnessed how readily the sons of Israel succumbed to the temptations provided by the Midianite and Moabite women as they had enticed the men of Israel into the sexual sins of Baal-Peor. Now that the time had arrived for Israel to cross the Jordan River into the Land of Promise, Moshe expands upon the types of temptations that will meet the children of Israel upon their crossing, and introduces them to even more insidious temptations of the eventuality of various people arising in their midst who will be either adding to or taking away from His teachings, “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).

Tests from Within and Without

Moshe again exhorts the people to abstain from socializing with the idol-worshippers, from giving credence to pagan ideas and influences. For this purpose they are to cut down any trees, statues and altars which have been used in pagan worship and finally he assures them that God is always near and will always hear a contrite and repentant heart which seeks forgiveness.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for Yahweh your God is testing you to find out if you love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul. “You shall follow Yahweh your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against Yahweh your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which Yahweh your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

The first groups of people that Moshe warns the children of Israel about are the false prophets and dreamers of dreams that will arise among the followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These deceived people will actually come from within the ranks of the faithful. Many may not even know that they are deceived, but truly believe that they are speaking for God. They might have “heard a voice” or “had a vision” or “received a call” that they swear is from the Most High. These self-deceived prophets are some of the most difficult to encounter because they speak their words with such personal conviction. If you have ever been exposed to people like this you can understand how convincing they appear. But that does not excuse the children of Israel from following their words that subtly moves them away from the Torah of Moshe. To make things even more difficult for the sons of Israel, some of these false prophets and dreamers will actually be known for various “signs and wonders” that accompany their messages. Once someone has personally witnessed a sign or wonder, the perceived credibility of the prophet or dreamer is elevated in the eyes of the witness. People then naturally have a tendency to let their spiritual defenses down and begin to believe the words of the false prophet. Once a degree of credibility is attained, the insidious teaching is introduced. This can be very confusing to the faithful because visible signs and wonders are difficult to refute. But the teachings that they profess will subtly direct people away from the Almighty. The test of a messenger of God, is in what they speak, it must be according to the Word, not in the demonstration of signs and powerful gifts.

Yeshua Himself warned His disciples about this - “For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). “You shall follow Yahweh your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4). After Yahweh, your God, shall you go – and not after idols. Do not accept upon yourself to follow other gods, but rather commit yourself wholeheartedly to obey only Yahweh. “Going” involves decision.

And Him shall you fear – and not idols. “Fear”, and reverence of Yahweh must be exclusive -- not coming under the fear of man. And His commandments shall you observe – and not the dictates of the other practices, even if they are not actual idol-worship. “Observing” refers to paying homage to the customs associated with idolatry.

And to His Voice shall you listen – and not to the teachings of idolatry. “Listening” is learning, i.e. the truth in the Torah. And Him shall you serve – No “service,” no worship, is due any but Yahweh. One must not even accede to the prophet’s recommendation to worship differently.

And to Him shall you cleave -- “Cleaving” to Yahweh means attaching oneself to Him and His Word, and not to those who have gone astray. By following Yahweh, fearing Him, keeping His commandments, listening to His voice, serving Him and clinging to Him, one should be able to avoid the pitfalls of the deception that is destined to come to every generation of followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The false ‘prophets’ or proponents of the Word are of a worldly mind-set and are not subject to the Word of truth. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Whatever does not agree with His Word is not of Him. Such a person is of the spirit of an anti-messiah. (See 1 John 4: 4-6) Yeshua said, “By their fruits you will know them” Matt.7:15-20

While the false prophets and dreamers are dealt with by just retribution (capital punishment), there is another group of tempters that come much closer to home. These are the immediate relatives that test our allegiance to the Holy One of Israel: “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods ' .. .. .. .. you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. “But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people” (Deuteronomy 13: 8-11).

Yahweh is absolutely concerned about the subtle ability of loved ones to turn people away from loving Him. Remember He is a jealous God. One’s devotion to Yahweh must be complete and uncompromising. He expects us to love Him more than we do our own family members. We need to remember that Yahweh is longsuffering in His love and desires that no one should perish but rather come to the knowledge of the truth through repentance. There is no recorded instance of this having been literally carried out.

Yeshua also taught this principle, saying, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

Yeshua is saying is that one must place his love and allegiance to Him above his or her love for one’s family members or even one’s very own life. Here Yeshua essentially says that it is going to cost you all that you have. In other words, it is going to cost you your entire life, if you are going to be a true disciple of the Messiah of Israel. Understanding what Moshe had to say to his listeners can be summarized by this statement which Yeshua made.

In the gospel according to Luke, Yeshua uses a parable to describe the complete surrender that is required by the faithful to become a disciple of His and enter into His kingdom. (Luke 14:16-35). In this parable, the head of the household who is preparing a big banquet is likened to our Heavenly Father who is calling all who will listen to come and partake. Note that the “Master” sends out his slaves or bondservants to make the declarations to all who would hear that they are invited to attend the meal. This could be compared to the Holy One using various Prophets and servants like Moshe to make declarations about what is required to maintain the proper relationship with the Creator, or this can mean each one of us who is called to be a bondservant of the Most High and give total allegiance to Him.

In this parable, the results of inviting different people to the banquet are explained. Some are caught up in the business affairs of the world. Others have recently married and are more concerned about their honeymoon and relationship building with their new spouse. All are legitimate responsibilities in life, but none should take precedence over the call to attend our Master’s call.

The High Places 12: 1-7

We do not today have literal ‘high places’ where idolatry is enacted, but what are the present-day high places where the world has placed its altars to its gods that as a called-out people and a set-apart nation Yahweh is calling us to cast down and to destroy. The love of the things of this world are idols and spiritual strongholds which hinder and/or prevent us from serving and obeying Yahweh with all our heart. What is it that causes us to be insensitive to Him? We need to examine what things keep us from hearing His voice and honouring all His commandments, from prayer and intimate times with Him.

Make a check list - is it television, sports, your job and work schedule, family and peer pressure, fear, sinful habits and addictions, lust, greed, materialism and so on - What changes need to made to dethrone the ‘high places’, the things which have pre-eminence in our lives which are not centred on worship of Yahweh? We must ask ourselves the question, “Do I have anything in my life that is connected to idolatry? Do I watch, or allow my children to watch television programs that have anything to do with sorcery, occult or new age themes?

If we see anything in our lives that can give room for idolatry, we must be ruthless with ourselves, as Yeshua said in Matthew 5:29a, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you."(HNV)

“You shall obliterate [destroy, put to death] their names” [the names of pagan gods]. As the Art Scroll Edition Chumash points out, not only was Israel to remove the idols themselves, but they were not even to refer to them by their proper names

The Place of Worship

The Targums Onkelos and Johnathan both say to go “to the house of His Shekinah”, that is, the place where His Presence dwells. He will dwell and presence Himself in the place of His appointment. The place of choice is where to bring your tithes and offering and worship before Him. Verse 8 says, “You shall not do as we are doing here today - every man doing what is right in his own eyes.” We are to follow His instructions as to where to worship.

Honouring God With Our Substance

The pattern of tithes and offerings were set in place for the benefit of the people as they came to worship Yahweh. “These are the statutes and judgements which you shall be careful to observe” (12: 1).

When there is a hesitancy or reluctance to give, it is overcome by continually making it a practice to do so, in obedience to Torah. They also teach that giving based upon an emotional response to someone’s need is not true ‘tzedakah’, but rather a satisfying of one’s own heart and that the ‘exalted way of giving’ is with a pure heart in obedience to Torah and not because your own heart is grieved. King Shlomo (Solomon) says, “Honor God with your wealth” (Proverbs 3:9) and this is done by giving. “Every man according to what he can give according to the blessing which Yahweh your God gives you.” (16:17)

Our finances are tight so we look to “see” where we can cut corners. We think we can have this much more money in our budget if we quit giving God His tithe. Yet, God tells us that withholding the tithe brings curses (Malachai 3). Then they establish their icons, a fancy new automobile or other sacred possession, as a replacement for God, by paying their tithes to the title holder of that sacred idol. Do not think you will be blessed for doing this! If you want God’s favor you have to obey Him.

“These are the decrees and the ordinances that you shall observe… Destroy all the places where… worshipped their gods… bring your offerings, your tithes … your vow offerings and your free will offerings…. You may not eat the tithe… “ Deut 12:1-17;12:5ff,

These tithes and offerings were those brought to the place of worship. Proverbs 3: 9-10 says, “ Honour Yahweh with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so that your barns be filled with plenty...”

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Giving (tithes and offerings) is a spiritual, kingdom principle and a key to blessings and success.

Earlier He told them, “But you shall remember Yahweh your God for it is He that gives you the power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant ….” Deuteronomy 8:18

The Voice of the Hireling

If there arise - “a prophet or a dreamer”... “a sign or a wonder”. A prophet may claim to receive his vision or “word from Yahweh” while he was awake in a vision or in a dream while asleep (ASE Chumash, , p. 1007). A sign is a supernatural event in heaven while a wonder is a miraculous event on earth. There are those among the people of Yahweh who, as Adam Clark states in his commentary on this verse, “pretend to have a Divine influence, so as to be able to direct others in the way of salvation”, or shows some “miraculous proof of his mission...or some type of representation of what he wishes to bring you over to” (Vol. 1, p. 774). (13:2-6)

“You shall walk after Yahweh your Elohim, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him.” (13:4) Only by following this will we be preserved from hearing a false ‘prophet’ and be able to discern the difference between truth and error, from that which agrees with the Word and that which is contrary. Yeshua said “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10: 4-5) If we know the voice of the Master, we will not follow the voice of strangers. His voice is that which sounded out at Sinai of which Moshe is reminding them to ‘hear’ again, His commandments to them.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible quoting the Dead Sea Scrolls renders this verse as follows: “You shall walk after Yahweh your Elohim, and you shall serve Him, and listen to His voice, and cling to Him, and fear Him, and keep His commandment."

The editors of The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible comment that the syntactically (word order) variation between the two versions is significant since the latter reading offers a definition of what it means to follow Yahweh and a sequence in which the specified actions should be undertaken (p. 166, translated by Abegg, Flint and Ulrich). These commentators state that the order in the DSSB gives us a better definition and a more accurate sequence of steps in the Believer’s growth in their walk with Yahweh.

Yeshua warned about false prophets in the latter days who would deceive many (Matt. 24:11) and false Messiahs who might even deceive the “very elect” (v. 24). Paul talks about a “man of sin” that would arise showing signs and lying wonders such that some would fall from the truth of the salvation message of the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

Paul warns, “do not be soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word... let no man deceive you by any means” (verses 2-3). He then (in verses 15-17) encourages the brethren to stand fast in the simple truths of the Gospel of Yeshua: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Master Yeshua the Messiah himself, and Elohim, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work."

We need to take care that we are not being led astray from the simple Word of Yahweh, whether as found in the Tanakh (OT) or in the Apostolic Scriptures (NT) by people claiming to speak as an oracle from heaven. Deuteronomy 13:3 says that Yahweh proves his people “to know whether you love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul” by allowing such.

Jude, the half brother of Yeshua, speaking of the spiritual delusion to occur in the last days exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). We must stand firm and earnestly contend every day for the true faith and not be allured by the siren’s song of the false prophets and teachers with demonstrations of ‘power’ in signs and wonders who lead people away from the Gospel truth into spiritual delusion and eternal oblivion.

And what is the voice of the Yahweh? Is it not the Torah commandments that he audibly thundered from Mt. Sinai to the Israelites? We do not have the right to be selective in our hearing and be one who “does what is right in his own eyes” (12:8).

Do you make excuses why Yahweh’s words do not apply to you, why you are an exception to the rule and why your situation is unique and special? Perhaps your finances, your marriage, your health, your family relationships and other areas in your life are a in disorder because you are not obeying Yahweh’s voice. Stop and reflect for a moment on this. Let the Ruach speak to you on this matter. Then repent and resolve before Yahweh to change your attitude and course of life today! (13:18)

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” [Exodus 32:6, 32:19] We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Messiah to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:6 The way of life is like a path between fire and ice. The slightest bend in either direction is fatal. What to do? Walk in the middle…(Mishnah) There is no room for God in those who are full of themselves…(Chassidic)

His Holy Sanctuary and Treasured Possession

“You are...a peculiar/treasured people unto Himself”. The term treasured people/am segulah is used several times in the Torah: in Exodus 19:4-6 when Yahweh betrothed Himself to and married the people of Israel they became am segulah or treasured possession among all the peoples of the nation, a kingdom of priests and a kadosh/set-apart nation; then again in the present verse under analysis Moshe restates this same idea to the younger generation Israelites about to enter the Promised Land; and finally in Deuteronomy 26:17-19 where He again calls them “treasured people” and admonishes them to keep His Torah-commands that He might “make you high above all the nations which he has made, in praise, and in name, and in honor, and that you may be a set-apart people unto Yahweh your God.” The prophet Malachi (3:17) uses the term. So does the Psalmist who, singing in the Jerusalem Temple, praises God for having ‘chosen Jacob – Israel – as a treasured possession’” (135:3-4).

With humility and gratefulness we should own this identity and make it a part of our innermost being. This is brought forward by Peter for the Spirit-filled believers in 1 Peter 2:9. Note that Yahweh has chosen us from among all the peoples of the earth as an ‘am segulah’ - a treasured possession, His holy dwelling place -

“Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Cor.6:19-20

If we know that we are a special treasure and a called-out people destined for great things in the kingdom of God will not the reality of who we are and whose we are and what we are to become, effect our walk of righteousness here and now and inspire us to walk a little higher, a little more set-apart, a little closer to Yahweh, and to be a better spiritual light through our words, thoughts and deeds to the unbelievers around us? It should, if we love Him.

“Only at the place that Yahweh will place His name there....shall you seek out His Presence [habitation] and come there.” (12:5) The word Presence (as translated in the AS Edition Chumash) is the Hebrew word sheken/!kv (Strong’s H7933/TWOT 2387) and as a verb means to dwell or tabernacle, as a noun it means dwelling, or tabernacle. According to TWOT the verb is used 129 times in the Tanakh (OT) of which 43 times Yahweh is the subject; that is, it describes where he dwells (e.g., on Mt. Zion [Psa. 74:2], among his people [Exod. 25:8], or in Jerusalem [Zech. 8:3]). On several occasions it refers to His divine and glorious Presence dwelling among His people (e.g., Exod. 24:16; Psa. 85:9).

The word mishkan which was the portable tabernacle, sanctuary or earthly dwelling place of the glorious Presence of Yahweh among His people is derived from this word. Yahweh is saying NOT to go just anywhere to worship Him, but to go only to where he has placed His name. That will be where his manifest glory and Presence is to be found! Where you fellowship and worship Him collectively with other Believers is the manifest glory and Presence of Yahweh.

When David hungered and thirsted for Yahweh he would seek the Presence of Yahweh in the Set-apart Place where Yahweh’s name and glorious manifest Presence was to be found. There he would literally experience the Presence and gain prophetic insight and understanding. Those who are indwelt by His Spirit today form His corporate ‘tabernacle’ in which He can manifest His Shekinah glory and Presence. Yeshua said “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst” The criteria is in it being in His name -- all that He is and all that He represents, for His Presence to be manifest.

Living As His Set Apart People

We are to be the kadosh, set apart and peculiar or treasured people of Yahweh. What we eat is a key factor in being set-apart unto Yahweh (14:2) . We need to learn to live by the “whole counsel of the Word of God” (Acts 20:27) and come away from the paganized practices of other religious institutions. Eating the true spiritual food of the Word goes hand-in-hand with eating ‘kosher’ (sanctified) physical food. Yahweh calls these unclean foods an “abominable thing” (verse 3). Do we have strongholds and altars to pagan gods of pleasure and self-satisfaction -- Is our ‘belly’ our god” ? Philippians 3:19

Yahweh has given very strict guidelines for eating. In Deuteronomy 14 Yahweh clearly states what is clean and unclean. The observance of these food laws is a means of worship and showing respect to our God. Of course, there is a health perspective also, as the eating of carnivores is inherently dangerous; their flesh carries more parasites and enzymes that cause physical problems. There is a popular adage, “Man is what he eats.” The character of a person is affected and ultimately molded by his diet. For instance, eating very spicy foods makes one excitable and temperamental while bland foods are calming and relaxing. Eating blood makes a person insensitive and even cruel. Children inherit the character traits of their parents, so avoiding certain foods not only benefits the parents, but also prevents the children from inheriting undesirable character traits.

Yahweh has appointed set-apart times for His people to gather and worship Him and remember the covenant and His plan of redemption. Three times a year He has ordained for them to appear before Him. (16:16) The Israelites and first-century Messianic Believers planned their entire year’s schedule around them – they were that important to them. The Feast Days are the skeletal framework of Yahweh’s entire plan of redemption (salvation) of Israel. One cannot in good conscience keep the weekly Sabbath without keeping Yahweh’s annual Sabbaths. They stand or fall together.

Chapter 16 describes the appropriate means of observing Passover. We need reminders of what our Father has done for us, and of Yeshua’s marvelous sacrifice for our sins. Just as the Father tells us how to observe Passover, we are reminded in 1 Cor. 5: 9-13 of the importance of sanctification and separation. Here reference is made to Deuteronomy 22:21,24, saying “Root out the wrongdoer from your community.” The picture of leaven comes to mind, as we examine ourselves. Deuteronomy discusses eating with foreigners, slaves and family, but points out that there are times when, in order to please Yahweh, one must be cautious about eating with unbelievers. 1 Cor. 5:11 (Oxford Study Bible) says “I meant that you are to have nothing to do with any so-called Christian who leads an immoral life, or is extortionate, idolatrous, a slander, a drunkard, or a swindler; with anyone like that you should not even eat.” So, let us be careful. It may seem that Yahweh has many rules for his people, but it all seems to come back to relationships.

Our relationship with him, through Messiah Yeshua, our relationship with the brethren and our separateness from the world’s ways.

An exemplification of His love in His people is characterised by their expressions of love for the poor and the needy. (15:7–11) Charity is one of the central pillars of Torah. It is a reflection of God’s very nature. It is grace itself. The Master quotes the Deuteronomy 17:11 saying, “You always have the poor with you,” (John 12:8), and He expects us to give generously to them. A majority of the Master’s teachings have to do with the subject of giving charity. He assumes that we will give charity, saying, “When you give to the poor…” (Matthew 6:2) He points out that even the hypocrites give charity. After all, the giving of charity is a commandment of the Torah. Conversely, there is a prohibition, “not to deny charity to the poor.” We are under obligation to ‘freely open our hand to our brother, to the needy and the poor.’ (15:11) Knowing the natural heart of man, Moshe says, “your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Yahweh your God shall bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand to” (15:10)

Yahweh Himself will repay those who give to the ones He cares for and protects. Some excuse themselves as having insufficient themselves, and therefore are not able to give. The Talmud states it this way: “Everybody is obliged to give charity; even one who himself is dependent on charity should give to those less fortunate than himself.” (b.Gittin 7a) It is a fact that you can always find someone less fortunate.

All of the Apostolic Scriptures, and especially the Pauline epistles, are packed with encouragements to give to those in need and to give generously. Giving generously was a natural reflex of the First Century believers. Paul regards giving generously as a proper response of gratitude for the grace which God has bestowed upon us. When we give charity, it should be done subtly and quietly. Yeshua tells us that when we give, we are not to announce with trumpets, i.e. we are not to make a show out of it, “that your giving be in secret.” (Matthew 6:4) The true disciple asks “How much more can I give? How can I find a way to give more?” In the Midrash Rabbah it says, “The poor man does more for the giver than the giver does for the poor man.” (Leviticus Rabbah 34:8). In Acts it says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) When we come across those in need, our hearts should leap with joy because suddenly we have the opportunity to return to Yahweh some of the wealth he has bestowed upon us.

When we celebrate our feasts we are instructed to share with the “stranger, the fatherless and the widow that is within our gates” This related to going up to the three festive occasions at Jerusalem. We are to invite the needy to our festive meals and assure that they too rejoice in Yahweh’s goodness. Consequently, one must “send for the poor” - either invite them to rejoice together with him, or send food to them so that they may rejoice in their own homes. (14:28-29)

A person’s spiritual character is tested by how he keeps Yahweh’s commandments. As with all we do, we need to align our actions and our lifestyle by the Torah - His set of instructions for us. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Messiah Yeshua is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test”. For all of our lives we are each going to be tested from within and without. (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)