Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #45: Va’etchanan ( I pleaded) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 3:23-7:11
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 40:1-26
B’rit Chadashah: Mark 12:28-34
We begin this parashah with Moshe’s pleading with G-d to allow him to enter the land. We are reminded that G-d hates sin and Moshe’s sin of impulsive anger cost him the privlege of living long enough to cross over with the others. He was only allowed to see the Land. This does not mean Moshe was lost; rather he would have to wait until Yahshua’s resurrection taking the first fruits with Him before he would realize what those souls who are to be saved come to know when they return to YHVH Yahshua. The entire knowledge of this we cannot know until our souls make that journey. Suffice it to say, Moshe was not counted among the lost.
The remainder of this parashah describes in great detail the laws of G-d. Interestingly, the first paragraph of Chapter 4 provides the warning that we are to neither add to nor subtract from G-d’s Torah. Early on we realize there is a problem in some of the sects of Judaism including the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and the Secular Humanistic movements. Let’s not leave out Christianity. What do all of these have in common? Every one of them has added to or subtracted from G-d’s Torah/Instructions. This same prohibition is described in the Book of Revelation so anyone who professes to be a Christian cannot say this is an Old Testament directive for the Jews only! The reference is Revelation 22:18,19. Also review Matthew 5:17-19; 15:3-9, and Matthew 23:1-4 where Yahshua rebuked the religious leaders at the time elevating their own laws to the same level as G-d’s Law. In Christianity, the Sabbath of G-d has been changed, the dietary laws and designated times of G-d are ignored, and the god of Christianity is now considered a “new and improved” version, abrogating His own laws for mankind! To add to the laws of G-d make them burdensome, and to subtract from them is to assume a position of authority over G-d who made them. This is exactly the position taken by the Catholic Church who are Edomites from the line of Esau as we studied last week. For more information on this subject, there is a podcast by the same title and there is an article on the website at rabdavis.org addressing the same subject.
Another argument against following G-d’s laws is that they do not apply to those living in the present. YHVH/Yahshua is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So are His laws/instructions. Again, in Christianity, the claim is that G-d’s laws were “nailed to the cross.” This could not be further from the truth of the matter. It makes no sense that G-d would abrogate His own laws/commands/instructions when they were given to us to show us how He expects us to relate to Him and to our fellow man. Furthermore, we go back to the scripture at the beginning of this lesson indicating we are neither to add nor subtract from His Word found in both the Old and “New” Testaments. Another scripture supporting the eternality/perpetuality of His Commands is found in Matthew 5:17 and forward: “ Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes, indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or stroke (jot or tittle) will pass from the Torah- not until everything that must happen has happened. Relating back to our parashah, we learn that G-d gave other commands besides the Ten Commands. G-d did not give any instructions that were not valid and did not have purpose. There are some commands/laws that cannot be fulfilled at the present because we do not have a Temple at the present. But the timeless truth(concept) of the commands and laws are timeless.
To make sure the generations learn and continue to follow G-d’s laws, we are commanded to teach our children and anyone else who inquires with interest about what it means to be a true believer. This is why the youngest in the congregation during the Pesach celebration reads the four questions and why they are to attend the celebration of G-d’s deliverance from Egypt that represents a sinful lifestyle.
In Chapter 4:19 we must understand that G-d is not forgiving other nations for their idol worship. He was saying that although the judgement of the nations may be delayed, it would be swift and complete for Israel because Israel knew G-d’s laws. Remember, to whom much is given, much is required. We must also be aware that idol worship means more than just keeping statues around the house. When the cycles of nature are honored in the name of pagan gods or goddesses; when man determines when life begins in the womb; when man decides what is just without referring to G-d’s Torah for the definition; when adults and children are taught that G-d may have made a mistake in making them male or female, there is no doubt that idolatry is at the center of it all. This is known as idolizing self. Behind laws made to allow such abominations against G-d and His Commands are motivation in the form of profit, position, acceptance by peers, coworkers, friends, or image; none of which has anything to do with loving and following G-d’s Torah.
Moving on in the scripture we learn that G-d promises that we will find Him if we search for Him with all our hearts and souls. This means emotional and intellectual/spiritual. We have to want to know Him Acts of service and worship must be accompanied by sincere devotion and not a simple profession of faith. How tempted we are to seek guidance from everyone except G-d! Once we internalize the truth that G-d is THE Authority over all the earth and every detail of our lives, we can develop a peace given by the Ruach (Holy Spirit) that is not like any pseudo peace attempted through our own strength that we have ever known.
Chapter 6:4-11 sets the central theme of the true believer; that G-d is to be the center of our lives in all aspects. This narrative is so important to Jews that it is traditionally the first thing recited in the morning, and the last thing uttered before retiring and even as we prepare to pass from this life if given the opportunity. It is a wonderful way to have the L-rd in front of our eyes and in our hearts and minds as we begin and end each day or prepare to retire at night. Setting the stage for our days and evenings with this scripture also reinforces Who G-d is and that we have nothing to fear if we love and obey Him. It is indeed a sad state of affairs to witness how mankind has fallen away from G-d just as nations and individuals have in the past. Judgement will take place at G-d’s perfect time and no level of denial or pointing fingers will change what is to come for those who rebel against G-d and His Word (Deut. 6:14-16). If only people would turn back before Day ends and the day of the L-rd ensues. If only…..
Haftorah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 40:1-26
Parashah V’etchanan is always read on the Shabbat after the 9th of Av- a
Shabbat known as Shabbat Nachamu, the “Shabbat of Comfort.” The
comfort of this parashah embraces far more than the beginning verses of the
Haftorah: “Comfort, comfort My people, “says your G-d. Speak to the
heart of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her time [of exile] has been
fulfilled, that her iniquity has been conciliated, for she has received from the
hand of G-d double for all her sins.”
This message of comfort is a prophecy concerning the eventual Redemption
and assures Israel that the destruction and exile are merely temporary
phenomena in the context of an eternal covenant.
B’rit Chadashah: Mark 12:28-34
In these verses we are reminded of the consistency of Torah and Yahshua’s
interpretation and teaching of G-d’s written Torah, not the traditions of men. Yahshua describes the most important mitzvah as the Sh’ma and the second as “You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” The Torah teacher rightly discerns that following these two commands means more than all the legalistic offering
of sacrifices and burnt offerings. Again, the spirit of the law or Torah
observance must come before the letter of the law but not exclusive to the letter of the law. Indeed, if one follows these two commands, they will lovingly offer sacrifices and burnt offerings to YHVH Elohim.
Sages Wisdom: “And love your Elohim… with all your heart.” (6:5)
Rashi explains that it means to love YHVH with the yetzer tov, “the good
inclination” and the yetzer ha’ra, “the evil inclination. How can this be?
When we can admit that we have sinned against YHVH Elohim and don’t
try to justify our evil actions, then we love YHVH through our evil
inclinations. Similarly, when we choose to take the action that is consistent with G-d’s Torah over our physical and emotional desires, we are demonstrating our love for YHVH/Yahshua over our evil inclinations related to self.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart