One Man Makes the Difference

This Shabbat is Shabbat Shekalim, corresponding to the season in our calendar when the half-shekel tax was assessed in ancient Israel. Our haftarah portion, 2 Kings 11:17–12:17, is a short history lesson, but one that carries a challenge throughout the generations.

Read More
Russ Resnik
Who You Gonna Listen To?

This week’s haftarah from 1 Kings 18 is best known for Elijah’s victory over the priests of Ba’al at Mount Carmel, which led to a massive return of the people of Israel (the northern kingdom) to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Often overlooked in this well-known passage is the reception Elijah received on his way to Carmel and during the interactions that occurred there.  

Read More
Russ Resnik
Be Lovers of Peace

In Exodus 19:6 God says to Israel, “You shall be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” So in reality we are all priests. The kohanim are just the priests to the priests. But Israel as a whole are priests to the nations of the world.

Read More
Russ Resnik
Where Does God Dwell?

“I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel” (1 Kings 6:12). These words to Solomon refer to the promise Hashem gave to David, that one of David’s descendants would build a house for Hashem’s name and that he would build a permanent dynasty for David (2 Sam 7). Ultimately, these words were fulfilled in Yeshua, the King and Messiah of Israel.

Read More
Russ Resnik
Guarding the Covenant

In the Torah portion this week we have what seems to be a whole long list of laws. This listing of rules appears to us modern readers to support the stereotype (a negative one) of the Old Testament, and therefore to be skipped over to get to the “narrative” (the story). However, if this list is skipped over, then the modern reader will miss out on several rules that still seem important today.

Read More
Russ Resnik
An Aristocracy of Humility

With the arrival at Sinai, Israel begins to forge in earnest its national identity. Only in covenantal relationship with the God of their forefathers, the God to whom the entire world belongs, does the shared experience of bondage and liberation begin to take on meaning. Here at Sinai the full transition is made from servitude to Pharaoh to the service of God and his creation.

Read More
Russ Resnik
The Woman of Flames

The Book of Judges reads like an action movie or a comic book, replete with heroes and villains, vivid battle scenes, quirky protagonists, and gory death scenes. In the 4th chapter of Judges, we learn that Gal Gadot is not the original Jewish Wonder Woman. Instead, the honor goes to Deborah, who precedes her by several thousand years.

Read More
Monique Brumbach
The Mah Zot Principle

Like a pot of cool water that is gradually heated until the proverbial lobster is cooked without fully realizing what is happening, so can some cultural trends in the Messianic movement “cook” our unique calling as Jews so that we lose track of who we have been created to be, and what we have been called to value and preserve.  

Read More
Russ Resnik
Our Inheritance is Our Task

Moses spends the first forty years thinking he is somebody. He has fallen by providence into the royal court of Pharaoh and is raised as a prince of Egypt while his people, the Jewish people unknown to him, suffer. In the second act he discovers that he is nobody. But it is in the third forty years of Moses’ life that he discovers what Hashem can do with somebody who accepts he is nobody.

 

Read More
Russ Resnik
Unto Us a Child is Born—in Egypt!

Most of the Christian world is celebrating the birth of the Messiah this week, and in the synagogue we are reading the early chapters of Exodus, which recount the birth of another deliverer, Moses. Scholars have long noted similarities between the two birth accounts, especially in the version of Messiah’s birth preserved by Matthew.

Read More
Russ Resnik