Blog Sh’mot 19 Tevet 5778 בלוג שְׁמוֹת, י”ט טבת תשע”ח
As we begin the second book of the Torah, Sh’mot, Exodus, we will see that history repeats itself. We will search for the principles that the Creator is teaching us so that we can apply them in a practical way to our lives today in order to be able to call ourselves Shomer Torah, keeper of the Torah. Tradition for the sake of tradition loses its meaning if we don’t understand what we are doing. That is why so many young people are leaving their beliefs and we need to help them to learn the basic principles that will serve them well in their lives. Each generation was to pass the teachings of the Torah to the next generation to help us as a chosen people to be or l’goyim, a light to the nations. Sadly that is not what is happening. Israel is committing “identity” suicide- they are losing their reason to exist because they want to be like the other nations.
Sh’mot means Names and this word together with the number 70 paints a picture showing us that Jacob’s entire family left Canaan and came to Egypt. It was how the Creator would protect them from assimilating for the Hebrews were losing their identity when they lived in Canaan where Jacob’s sons were intermarrying with the Canaanites. It is here that I want to pause in order to challenge you not to follow the teachings of religious people but instead to see what the Torah actually says. It was a Patriarchal system in which the inheritance came through the male. The children of Judah were from Canaanite women. Both of Tamar’s sons formed the line of King David. Joseph’s wife was Asenath, the daughter of Potifera, the priest of On, an Egyptian. How much more pagan can anyone be! Yet her children Manasseh and Ephraim are counted among the tribes of Israel. According to our rabbis today, they would have been excluded. They have their own explanations but they are all inventions. Why is this so important? Because we have been changing the Torah and instead of the Torah being the foundation of our beliefs, man’s writings have replaced its authority. The main role of our Rabbi, Prophet and Mashiach Yeshua was to bring us back to the Torah following in the footsteps of Moshe (Moses) who had brought it to us originally.
Pitifully Yeshua has been kidnapped by the Gentiles who made him a god and the center of their worship. It was natural that the Jews would reject a man-made god and today we need to re-examine his role and identity without this out-right rejection of him. It is also important to examine how Moshe was chosen for his own role but remember that Moshe was only the messenger, the instrument used by the Creator through whom He would perform all the miracles. Men are not miracle-workers, the Almighty is! Both of these men depended totally upon the Creator. However, when a myth is created, it is almost impossible to destroy it. Within the last 20 years, new studies have emerged from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and from other Jewish scholars, who are rediscovering the true Yeshua calling him “our elder brother in the faith”. They see that Yeshua never disputed what was in the Torah; rather his battle was with the religious element who had replaced the Torah with their own Halachah. Yeshua told the Perushim (Pharisees), Soferim (Scribes) and the Tsadokkim (Sadducees) that their traditions nullified the Word of God. There was and still is a revolution – we have a choice to either follow the religious leaders or the Creator. Today everyone wants to belong to a religion but our identity lies in belonging to the Creator.
The story continues with “Then there arose a new king who didn’t know Joseph”. The Hebrew understanding of this word “know” means that he didn’t have a relationship with Joseph; he didn’t want to acknowledge that this foreigner had saved Egypt. Everyone knew that the reason that Egypt held such power was due to Joseph. This Pharaoh was not only ungrateful but he would become the first anti-Semite who wanted to destroy Israel. The first thing he did was to order that all “male” children should be killed. Why would he worry about killing the boys and not the girls, if Jewishness comes through the mother as we are taught today?
Moshe grew up in the palace of the Pharaoh as a blue blood. Here emerges a principle that has remained throughout the ages: it doesn’t matter to what level the Jew has risen in the diaspora, we are always considered foreigners even if we were born there. It is the Creator who calls us and gives us our identity. When God chooses, He doesn’t leave us alone. He is with us throughout all the difficult circumstances of our life which He allows us to go through in order to form us to be who we are meant to be. Our great teacher Moses always identified with being a Hebrew. When he saw the Egyptian abusing a Hebrew, he killed him and hid the body. The next day when he saw a Hebrew fighting another Hebrew, he tried to stop them but they turned on him to the point that he had to flee Egypt. He was betrayed by his own people.
At the age of 80 while living in the desert, Moshe had a “burning bush experience”. Have you had your burning bush experience? There was something that brought you here and makes you different or did you simply have a religious experience? Usually the next step that follows is fear, wanting to run from that responsibility. How many of us are running from it like Moshe did even though the Creator is calling us? Like Moshe, we all have had our ups and downs but these are all steps in developing our relationship with the One who called us.
The Paradigm Shift in our thinking is very difficult. We need to be open and flexible in order to change what we have held as truths most of our lives. When Moshe accepted his role, he would be used to liberate his people from slavery – not only physical slavery – the worst was their spiritual slavery. Shaking off the environment that molded them would be Israel’s biggest challenge. They had lost their reverence and respect for the God of their forefathers when they were wooed by the powerful gods of the Egyptians. They were losing their calling. In the next weeks, we will be examining the principles by which we can truly accept our roles of being the people of God. He begins the relationship with us and He helps us to continue it. He will always remember His promises to our forefathers. He is the God of our long history, always acting in our lives especially in the moments when we begin to drift away from Him and begin assimilating to foreign deities and people.