Friday, December 31, 2010

Knowledge in Parsha Va'era

Excerpts from a drash on parsha Va'era which I wrote for this week's edition of The Set Table.

Our parasha opens with the famous four-fold expression of redemption that God vows to Moses:
I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments; and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God . . .
(Exodus 6:6–7a)
After these four promises from God comes a fifth:
. . . and I will bring you in unto the land concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
(Exodus 6:8) 
What is it that bridges God’s four-fold redemption of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to God’s bringing the Israelites into the land?  The answer is given in the intervening verse:
and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
(Exodus 6:7b, emphasis mine)
This emphasis on da‘at, knowledge of God, is characteristic of the first half of Exodus, in which Israel comes to know God through his miraculous deliverance. In particular, this verse highlights that Israel’s future entrance into the land must be preceded by their coming to know that the Lord is God.

. . .

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe taught:
These verses cite five expressions of redemption. The first four relate to the Egyptian exile and the three exiles following thereafter, including the present one. The fifth—“I shall bring you . . .”—relates to an additional level of ascent that will follow the initial redemption by Moshiach
(Living With Moshiach, p. 51)
If the fifth message of redemption (“I shall bring you into the land . . .”) is a reference to the Messianic redemption, then it follows that entrance into the Messianic Age must be preceded by Israel coming to know God in the fullest sense. Of this Jeremiah writes, “no man shall teach his neighbor . . . for they all will know me” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Read the whole thing at  Shabbat shalom, readers!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Check out Shalom Talk!

Have you heard Shalom Talk?

It's a radio show / podcast of weekly "conversations for change" between Messianic Jewish rabbi, scholar, and thinker Stuart Dauermann and various fascinating guests.

So far Dr. Dauermann has interviewed Bible scholars (Mark Nanos--a must-hear if you like Pauline studies!), musician/composers (Yehuda Solomon of Moshav Band, composer Michael Silversher), anthropologists (Dr. Bruce Stokes), at least one president of a Messianic Jewish synagogue (Diane Cohen--if you're a fan of Moshav Band, you'll definitely want to hear her story), Christian leaders (Fumio Taku), and rabbis of both the Yeshua-believing (Russ Resnick, Vladimir Pikman) and non-Yeshua-believing (David Zaslow) kind.

If you like quality Messianic Jewish media, you're definitely going to want to have Shalom Talk close to the top of your list.

Listeners will also note that the program is sponsored by Forever 21--their support of the kind of programming I like made me want to go there when I'm getting clothes or gifts! 

You can hear Shalom Talk via the web (Go to and click "Listen now" at 1PM PST / 4PM EST / you do the math if you're in between) or via podcast (my own preferred method, allowing me to listen to the program anytime I have a few spare minutes).  Click here for a link to the podcast and happy listening!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Toronto Post article on Messianic Jews and Christmas

The Toronto Post has a lengthy article on Messianic Jews featuring Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation (founded in 1915!  website:  Here's an excerpt from author Alen Abel's conversation with Rabbi Barry Rubin:

In the rabbi’s study above the part-time prayer hall, we enjoy a lively conversation about the Nazarene and his disciples.
“Virgin birth?” he says. “That’s very Jewish. The first three matriarchs – Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel – were barren. God performed a miracle and ‘opened their wombs.’ One would expect the pattern to continue with the birth of a messiah, too.
“Christmas is a thoroughly Jewish holiday in essence. But like a lot of Christians, it has lost its Jewish roots. I honour the birth of the Messiah – that’s important. Isaiah predicted it. It’s foreshadowed in Genesis. It’s theologically essential, but Christmas isn’t.
“Look, I’m an American. The American Christmas is fun, it’s beautiful. The decorations are pretty but they’re not Jewish, plus they’re not Scriptural.”
Rabbi Rubin says that his research leads him to conclude that the Son of God was born at harvest time, not the winter solstice.
“Why won’t you say the name ‘Jesus’? “ I ask.
“We’re trying to overcome two thousand years of anti-Jewish actions by Jesus’s followers,” he replies. “We’re trying to make a point. When he was a child, his mother would have called him Yeshua. She wouldn’t have yelled ‘Jesus! Time to come in for dinner!’ “
Read the rest at