Passing the Flame

Like most Jewish children, I loved Hanukkah when I was growing up. It was one of my favorite times of the year. I couldn’t wait for my Dad to get home from work so that we could light the candles, play the dreidel, eat the latkes, and most importantly get the presents! Now that I am an adult with small children of my own, the joy of Hanukkah has been rekindled for me . . .

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Russ Resnik
Two Families, Two Dramas

Who Obadiah was and when he lived is a topic of debate. There were many Obadiahs in the time of the Tanakh. But it is clear to whom Obadiah is prophesying. The content is rough, the tone is strong, the vision is ominous. Obadiah is a sad book because in it we see just how far brothers can stray from each another and how their respective families can evolve into violent enemies even when one side is at its complete lowest.

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Russ Resnik
Being a Ladder

Jacob faced obstacles throughout his life. He had a father who favored his older brother; the one who came to hate him and wanted to kill him. He had to deal with a deceptive and treacherous father-in-law for twenty years. He was tricked into marrying a woman whom he did not love. While not always an exemplar of ethical behavior himself, Jacob’s life can teach us about facing obstacles, of which we have many.

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Russ Resnik
What Are Leaders For?

We’ve just come through a grueling, costly, and often bitter electoral process. We’ve chosen our leaders, or men and women that we hope will be leaders, and this week’s haftarah provides a reminder of what leaders are chosen for. It begins with a stark contrast between two ancient leaders, Esau and Jacob: “I loved Jacob and Esau I hated” (Mal 1:2–3).

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Russ Resnik
Sometimes It Takes Courage

The decision to oppose Adonijah’s claim to kingship was a courageous act with serious implications. Have you ever been in a situation like that? Did you ever have to make a choice as to which person or cause you would back, knowing that the consequences could include loss of employment, problems for your family, loss of reputation, persecution, maybe even loss of life?

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Russ Resnik
Is There sense in suffering?

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes that our greatest presidents all experienced reversals that “at first impeded, then deepened, and finally and decisively molded their leadership.” Abraham is our first great leader and this observation applies to him. But it also applies to all those called to serve the God of Israel, whether recognized as leaders or not, like the Shunamite woman in this week’s haftarah portion.

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Russ Resnik
The Syntax of Silence

These are anxious times. People feel insecure regarding their safety, their finances, and the social structures they have come to depend on. Partisan politics have divided neighborhoods, communities, and even families. Wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters proliferate, and social media casts blame and aspersions on everyone. At times like this it is easy to ask, “Where is God?” and “Why is he so silent?”  

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Russ Resnik
What About the "Angry God"?

Is the God of the Old Testament an angry God, as is sometimes claimed?

Isaiah 54:9 links Hashem’s oath concerning the waters of Noah to his affirmation that he would not be angry with the children of Israel:

This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you.

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Russ Resnik
What Difference Does God Make?

When I first became a follower of Jesus I wanted to share the story of my amazing transformation with everyone. But, of course, Jesus was a big barrier for most people, especially Jewish people—even after we started saying Yeshua instead of Jesus. In recent years, though, it seems like the barrier has shifted, and now it’s God himself. For lots of people, before they can even consider Yeshua, they have to accept the idea that there might actually be a God who makes a difference.

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Russ Resnik