Sunday, January 14, 2018

Torah Portion - January 14, 2018

Weekly Torah Studies

Today's Torah Reading: Genesis 12

The Hebrew Alphabet: Lamed

The letter Lamed is unique in the Hebrew alphabet since it is the tallest letter (it is the only letter that rises above the baseline) and, as the 12th letter, it is considered the central letter (or "heart") of the Hebrew alphabet:

Since Lamed towers over the other letters from its central position, it is said to represent melekh hamelakhim, the King of Kings. This idea is supported by the idea that the preceding letter stands for kisei hakavod, "the throne of Glory," and the following letter stands for malkhut, "kingdom." The sages also point out that the three central letters can spell the word melekh, King.

Spiritual Meaning of the Lamed
Lamed = 30 and means “TEACHING” of Yahweh or “LEARNING” of Yah in Torah.

Learning is not an end in itself, but should spur us on to action.
"Study is not the ultimate goal, rather the deeds."
In other words, a true student or learner is not one who is entirely bookish and without deeds of righteousness that accompany his or her learning. This is echoed in the famous words of Simon the Just, who said that the world stands upon three things: upon Torah, upon worship and upon loving deeds:

"Upon three things the world does stand: upon the Torah and upon worship and upon acts of loving kindness."

In light of this, we can see how the word Lamed is connected with malmad, a goad or spur to action. Like a wise shepherd, learning will both spur us on to good deeds and control our animal instincts.

Lamed can be seen as an acronym for the phrase lev meivin da'at, meaning "a heart that understands knowledge":

In other words, the goal of learning and teaching (lamed) is heart knowledge. Moreover, since it is the only letter allowed to ascend above the other letters in the sacred writings, Lamed represents the prominence of learning and understanding to the heart.

The Hebrew name of the letter itself, lamed, comes from the root lamad meaning to learn or teach, which first occurs in Deuteronomy 4:1:

"And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you..." 

From this we can see that the first business of learning is mishnei Torah, the repetition (or inculcation) of the Torah. Indeed, since Lamed is the tallest of the Hebrew letters, it draws our attention to the source of all learning: the Torah itself.

Lamed: Secrets in the Letter Formation

The letter Lamed itself represents the number 30, but its constituent parts, Vav and Kaf, yield the number 26, which is the number of , Yahweh:

Since Lamed is central and raised above all the other letters, it represents Yahweh, or the King of Kings.

In Genesis 27:30 there is an unusual tag added to the normal Lamed

This reads, "As soon as Isaac finished blessing Jacob..." (The flourish on the Lamed occurs in the word kalah “finished” “made an end”). This extra embellishment on the Lamed points to the blessing that God gave to Jacob and His Seed. It means that this is a blessing descending directly from Yahweh out of Heaven.

The word Yisrael (Israel) begins with the smallest letter (Yod) and ends with the largest letter (Lamed), suggesting Israel's dependence upon Yahweh. In fact, in Exodus 19:5 the scribes write a deliberately oversized Lamed and a deliberately undersized Yod right next to one another:

This reads, "And you shall be to Me a treasure among all the peoples." Israel is “am segulah,” a treasured people, when they keep the Covenant of Yahweh by acknowledging His greatness and Israel's smallness. That is, God is the great Lamed, Teacher, King of Kings, whereas Israel is the small Yod, the small hand extended upward to Heaven in praise and in worship. When the relationship between Yahweh and us is like this, we are truly Israel - the treasured possession to Yahweh.

In Deuteronomy 29:28 there is an over-sized Lamed:

This reads, "and He cast them into another land..." This over-sized Lamed suggests that Israel's rebellion against Torah resulted in their ejection from the Promised Land. But even this punishment would be used by Yahweh to teach them about His Greatness. And in these Last Days, we behold the manifold wisdom of Yahweh as He gathers all of spiritual Israel back to the Torah Truth in anticipation of His soon coming as Israel's true King of kings!

The shape of the lamed has been compared to a watchtower, or a lighthouse, serving as a sen-tinel at the heart of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Torah scrolls, the vase of the lamed is formed by a kaph (the letter which symbolizes our submission to Yahweh and obedience – which results in good (Grace Empowered) works (which are obedient to Torah). To form the lamed, atop the kaph sits a vav, in the shape of a flame. This shows that our Spirt-empowered, Torah-obedient GOOD WORKS give Light to all those around. It was this symbology that Yahshua was referring to when He said, in the context of the Torah (Matthew 5:14-18):

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (“level up, fully preach, accomplish, perfect supply”). For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.

As the flame-like protrusion stands atop the kaph in the formation of the lamed, so our good deeds should provide a platform to display the Light of Yahweh’s Truth, emanating from the Torah.

The arrangement of the vav supported by the kaph (which is a hand, as well as wings) also illustrates the verse, “Humble your-selves, therefore under God’s mighty Hand, that He may lift you up in due time,” (1 Peter 5:6). It is only the humble one who has been dealt with by Yahweh’s Hand who can produce works that are truly Good and Torah-obedient. As the vav stands atop the kaph, so the man who is filled with Torah-understanding (knowing and doing) will be like a city on a hill whose light shines forth to illuminate a dark world. 

This Week's Torah Studies: (Statutes 41-60)
The Torah studies are provided in two formats for your convenience. The first option (below) is the blank worksheets for this week, which will allow you to print out the worksheets and hand-write the studies yourself. If you have less time, you may wish to read/print my completed Statute studies. The completed worksheets are the second option (below):

An Overview of this Week's Torah Studies:
This week we will be studying Statutes 41-60, which are summarized below. Happy studying!

Statute 41-42 Summary:
(41) The priests bear the responsibility to be watchmen who safeguard Yahweh’s holy things and days (42) and lead in the worship of Yahweh. When the priests rightly serve in this post, people are protected by it..
Number 18:5  And ye (the priests) shall keep the charge of the Sanctuary, and the charge of the Altar: that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel.”
Statute 43-45 Summary:
(43) The priests are to serve as burden bearers (intercessors), helping others find pardon and peace with Heaven. (44) Priests are not to have an earthly inheritance. (45) The tithes are the support and inheritance of the priests.
Numbers 18:23-24  “But the Levites (priests) shall do the service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a Statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto Yahweh, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.”  
Statute 46 Summary:
(46) We (since we are all called to be priests - Revelation 5:12) are to take care to come cleansed before Yahweh. We cannot worship Him, be an acceptable living sacrifice, or minister to others until we ourselves are made clean.
Exodus 30:18-21 “Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the Tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the Tabernacle of the Congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto Yahweh:  So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.” 
Statute 47-48 Summary:
(47) The Menorah is to be fueled only by pure olive oil. (48) The Menorah Light is never to burn out, but is to be always lit.
Exodus 27:20-21 “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the Light, to cause the lamp to burn always. In the Tabernacle of the Congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before Yahweh: it shall be a statute forever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.”  
Statute 49 Summary:
(49) The priests are to regularly bless the people in Yahweh’s Name with the following Yah-given blessing:
Numbers 6:23-27 “Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the Children of Israel, saying unto them, Yahweh bless thee, and keep thee: Yahweh make His Face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: Yahweh lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”
Statute 50 Summary:
(50) The priests are to set a show-bread table continually before Yahweh’s Presence.
Exodus 25:30 “And thou shalt set upon the Table Showbread before Me always.”
Statute 51-53 Summary:
When a foul and idolatrous building or city is judged and destroyed, (51) it is to remain a ruin forever. It must never be rebuilt. Also, (52) no items or gain from the judged place may be taken or used by the Children of Yahweh. (53) All proceeds and gain from the judged place must be destroyed and burned by fire.
Deuteronomy 13:16-17 “And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for Yahweh thy God: and it shall be an heap forever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that Yahweh may turn from the fierceness of His anger, and show thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as He hath sworn unto thy fathers.”
Statute 54-55 Summary:
(54) A prophet who claims to speak in Yahweh's Name, the prophet must speak the Truth from the Word of God. When a prophet (teacher of “truth”) claims to speak in Yahweh’s Name, but does not speak the Truth from the Word of God, that presumptuous prophet will die. (55) And when person claims to teach truth, he/she must not do it in the name of a false god. Such a false prophet will also die.
Deuteronomy 18:20 “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”
Statutes 56 Summary:
(56) If a false prophet (proclaimed teacher of “truth”) encourages people to do or believe things which honor false gods, you are not to listen to him/her.  Even if the false teacher “proves” his false teachings with miracles, you are not to listen to or allow yourself to in any way be influenced by him or her.
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for Yahweh your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Statute 57-59 Summary:
(57) Yahweh’s people are not to assemble to hear a false prophet. (58) Yahweh's people must not show hospitality to a false prophet. (59) Yahweh's people are not to show deferential respect towards a false prophet.
Deuteronomy 18:22 “When a prophet speaketh in the Name of Yahweh, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Yahweh hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
Statute 60 Summary:
(60) Yahweh’s people are not to talk like, nor practice the worldly habits of, nor take on the ungodly customs of the unsaved people around us.
Leviticus 20:23 “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them." 

Daily Bible Reading - January 14, 2018

Today's Reading:

Luke 12:1-31

Genesis 21

Psalm 14


Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Luke 12 is a powerful chapter on the subject of trusting in God. We are told that if our Heavenly Father clothes and provides for the lilies of the field and the sparrows in the trees that He will certainly provide for us. Yet, we don't seem to naturally rest in Him with trust. We seem to find it natural to worry when things don't seem to be going according to plan.

In Luke 12, we are asked if worrying about it will change our height. Certainly, we know that it won't. Worry doesn't fix our situation. It doesn't meet our need or address the crisis. Worry doesn't accomplish even one positive thing. But worry does accomplish something negative. Worry cancels out faith.

So, for today, I want to take a moment to encourage you to trust in God. Pray about your needs and issues. And repeat this process every time the issue comes to mind. But don't pick it up out of God's Hands by worrying about it. Pray and let it go. Trust in God. He is worthy of your trust.