Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

an excerpt from CG WKBK 5 Vol. 2 Mishpatim (Judgments)

Mishpatim from the Heart

If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.[1]

The Torah addresses the physical aspect of our relationships, often only hinting at the magnitude of spiritual dynamics that underpin the commandments given to the Creation.  For instance, the "Let there be..." commandments of Genesis One were preceded by a brief statement about the dynamic movement of the Spirit that was first present.  Consider this passage from the Torah portion Mishpatim concerning the apparently only physical treatment of wives when considering the addition of a second wife:

...he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.[2]

Food = she'era

Clothing = kesuta

Conjugal rights = onah

These three obligations, she'er, kesuta, and onah form the basis for Jewish law in marriage.  Examine these three irrevocable obligations more closely from the Thayer Lexicon:


            Word origin: H7607; from 07604; n. m.

            Usages in context: flesh 7, near kinswoman 2, food 1, near 1, nigh 1, near kin 1, kin 1, body 1, kinsman 1; 16

            Definition: 1) flesh, food, body, near kin, near kinswoman 1a) flesh 1a1) as food 1a2) for physical power (fig) 1b) flesh relation, blood relation 1c) self

Although she'er can mean food, there are other words for food in Hebrew that are much more literal, such as lechem, or maakhal.  The letter of the Torah is hinting that the Ruach should move dynamically in the physical commandment.  The commandment connotes not just physical food, but an emotional relationship of physical nearness and closeness, as in the relationship of a shared bloodline or close kin, like a sister.  Such closeness should lead one to the Book of Ruth, where the importance of the kinsman redeemer and the near kinswoman are pictured in Boaz, Naomi, and Ruth, or the patriarchs' urging of their wives, "Say you are my sister."  Yeshua also invited his disciples to eat his "flesh."


            Word Origin:  H3682 from 03680; n. f.

            Usages in context:  covering 6, raiment 1

            Definition: 1) covering, clothing 1b) covering (for concealment)

The mishpat might seem to convey that a husband's obligation is to make sure that his wife has adequate physical clothing.  But is it merely a physical commandment?  Look at the word origin listed in Thayer's as H3680 in the verb form.  The three-letter root of a Hebrew root gives its most basic, or primitive meaning, not just significance:


            Word Origin: H3680 a primitive root;  verb

            Usages in context:  cover 135, hide 6, conceal 4, covering 2, overwhelmed 2, clad 1, closed 1, clothed 1; 152

            Definition:  1) to cover, conceal, hide 1a) (Qal) conceal, covered (participle) 1b) (Niphal) to be covered 1c) (Piel) 1c1) to cover, clothe 1c2) to cover, conceal 1c3) to cover (for protection) 1c4) to cover over, spread over 1c5) to cover, overwhelm 1d)          (Pual) 1d1) to be covered 1d2) to be clothed 1e) (Hithpael) to cover oneself, clothe oneself

When a husband clothes his wife, he not only conceals her nakedness (relationship to sin), but he protects her.  It is both his spiritual and physical covering that protects her.  The spiritual protection is a "clothes" barrier against unclean demonic elements, and the physical covering ensures the protection of the body.

When the root is applied in the hithpael, it means to cover one's self.  This calls to mind a familiar verse explaining a husband's relationship to his wife, "...for no man ever hated his own body, but nourishes and cherishes it."[3]

Men have a great influence over their wives, and it is indeed possible for them to influence their wives to live fully clothed in the Living Torah or to lead them into the nakedness of sin apart from the Torah.  Eve was deceived by the words of the serpent, and Adam did not provide her protective boundaries and covering; he left her exposed to the deception.  This led to the exposure of his own nakedness. 

What affects one's wife affects the husband, for it is his own flesh.  Likewise, Eve failed to protect Adam, which may be the foundation of Paul's explanation that neither the husband nor the wife has power over his/her own body, but the spouse.  The seed thought of this Torah portion is that all things must be by agreement, both physical and spiritual:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1Cor 7:3-5)

This leads to the last "obligation," conjugal rights.


            Word Origin: H5772 from an unused root apparently meaning to dwell together; n. f.

            Usage in Context:  duty of marriage

            Definition: cohabitation, conjugal rights

In modern use, the onah can refer either to the time of marital intimacy or the period of menstruation.  It marks both the holy time of marital intimacy and the time a woman makes holy by separating from physical intimacy.  In this context, the onah refers specifically to the time of conjugal relations.

The onah is the duty of the husband to his wife, not the reverse!  While women are not cautioned about withholding sex from their husbands until the writing of the Brit HaChadasha, men are prohibited from doing so in the foundational words of the Torah. 

The Brit HaChadasha goes on to explain the mutual spiritual application of this commandment, but in its first appearance in the Torah, the obligation for a husband to meet his wife's sexual needs is explained using a word that means to dwell together.  This implies that it is not merely a sexual act, but a result of dwelling with one's wife, a relationship built in and with time.

The onah is a time that the husband sets aside specifically to bring pleasure to his wife.  Her set-apart time is something that he may not diminish by taking on other obligations.  Because it is a set-apart time, it is a holy time.  The first thing in the Creation that was holy was not an object, but time, Shabbat.  The onah is a time of holiness, or kiddushin

In the construction of the Tabernacle, it was a place and objects, including foods, that were rendered holy.  The soul and spiritual coverings a husband spreads over his wife and his provision for her flesh also become holy in the onah, but the holiness of her time with him must be guarded jealously, like Shabbat.
What should be obvious from the mishpat is that if a husband renders to his first wife according to the spirit of this three-fold commandment, it would be impossible to take a second wife!  Adding another would of necessity diminish his time and intimacy with the first.  As with many of the other mishpatim, if one followed the instructions concerning dehumanizing things such as slavery, it would destroy one's will to engage in them.

Combining the principles of these judgments of Torah, a physical application of the spiritual judgment develops marital relations.  A marriage is more than food, clothes, and sex.  It is single-minded relationship in which the husband reveals his innermost being to his wife.  For this reason, the words' origins suggest that a relationship between a husband and wife is more than his overpowering her with his superior physical strength, his position as head of the home, or a greater sexual desire.  He uses that strength and authority to protect her in all things physical and spiritual.  These three commandments may be viewed as one in both physical and spiritual principle.

Paul's letter describes an able-bodied man's failure to deliver on these obligations as equivalent of someone who denies the faith: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."[4]  Paul teaches that if a husband is not even rendering to his wife in the physical realm, how could he possibly be rendering in the spiritual realm, which is the origin of the physical? 

An able-bodied husband who does not provide for his family is a man who is spiritually sick, and his ruach (spirit) is bound captive to his lazy, self-serving nefesh (soul).  If one has the testimony of Yeshua in his heart, then he keeps the express commandments of God.  No commandments, says Paul, no faith in Yeshua.

The Spirit of Knowledge is love that sacrifices flesh for a relationship with the other, not just to fulfill the physical obligation.  One is spiritual; the other carnal.  The union of spirit and flesh leads to happiness for both in unity; the carnal union of only the letter of the Torah leads to coldness and a nominal relationship, "Because lawlessness (Torah-lessness) is increased, most people's love will grow cold."[5]

It is a fool who believes that the mishpatim are mere boxes of obligations to be checked off for completion.  Putting food on the table, a roof over the head, and fathering children is not the full obligation.  Volunteering one's heart to his wife and her heart to his is the fullness that produces life, liberty, and happiness in marriage.

Mishpatim teaches the spiritual unity and purpose of a husband and wife by establishing the conditions that make "adding another" impossible if all the criteria of the mishpat are met both physically and spiritually.

[1] Exodus 21:10-11

[2] Exodus 21:10

[3] Ephesians 5:28

[4] 1 Timothy 5:8

[5] Matthew 24:12   

Gather the Scattered is back, following up a very successful (thanks to attendees like you!) 2016 event. This year we will be focusing on the End Time Gathering that the Scriptures speak of. What will the return of our Savior look like? Can we know when this will be? We believe there are 'keys' in the Scriptures that we've lost, Keys, that once recovered, will bring clarity to the confusion of this subject and in the process will greatly encourage you in your walk with God.

We want to see everyone that comes leave refreshed, uplifted, encouraged, and blessed. Whether you may be struggling with one thing, or a myriad of things, we believe you will find that in the presence of a gathering of the Body of Messiah this is possible. Whether you have weekly fellowship, or believe you are all alone, Gather the Scattered 2017 is for you.

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Don't wait. Register now as space is limited. We can't wait to see you there!

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Our BEKY Books need reviews!  The booklets are doing well, but they can do better at reaching our target audience, the beginner to Torah.  One thing that helps readers to decide whether to purchase a book is reviews.  If you've read a BEKY Book (and enjoyed it), please take five minutes to post a good review.  Only 5 minutes!

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The BEKY Booklet on Shabbat is finished and in the editing process.  This will be a vital foundation stone in the BEKY curriculum for curious Christians and those beginning their walk in the instructions of the Torah. Another BEKY Booklet, Growing in Holiness: Day by Day Through the Hebrew Calendar is almost ready, and The Seven Shepherds: Hanukkah in Prophecy should be done in a couple of months.  Good things are coming!

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Now available on Amazon, the newest BEKY Book, Truth, Tradition, or Tare: Growing in the Word.

Readers of the Newer Testament can find its treatment of tradition confusing. Many of the customs in its pages are Jewish, and therefore foreign to non-Jewish believers. Yeshua (Jesus) sometimes corrected those observing religious customs, yet at other times he said they should have observed them. Paul does the same in his letters, and twice he instructs non-Jewish believers to keep the Jewish customs he passed on to them.

Among believers in Yeshua today, some enjoy incorporating tradition into their worship. Some dismiss all customs as "man-made," and therefore extraneous at best or the sin "adding to" the written Word at worst. There is a way to determine the relationship of the written Word to tradition, for the Word would not leave us without comfort on such an important question. Our Father wants His children to grow in wisdom, maturity, and favor before Him as well as their communities.

The methods used by the prophets of the Older Testament (TANAKH) as well as the writers of the Newer Testament (Brit HaChadasha) did leave readers guidelines to divide the Seed of truth from tradition, and then to separate a tradition grown from truth from a "taredition" grown from a different seed. Additionally, it is just as important to the disciple of Yeshua to test the goodness of the soil on which the practice of the Word grows. The most important consideration in the Older Testament's, Yeshua's, and the apostles' instructions is the sincere heart that holds justice, mercy, and faithfulness as the weightier matters of any religious custom.

By evaluating the traditions that one chooses to observe or not observe, the individual can avoid the lament:

"O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 'Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.'"

By applying the instructions in the Word, every believer is encouraged in his or her growth. A careful examination of Yeshua's instructions lifts a nuance that is frequently lost in discussions of truth and tradition. The first step is to identify whether that tradition is a tare. By throwing all tradition into a mental trash bin labeled Man's Tradition, it is possible that one could throw good plants and fruit into the bin with the tares. This is a logical fallacy called oversimplification. Yeshua's parables encourage his disciples to learn critical thinking skills so that growth in the Word is abundant life.

When a disciple of Yeshua examines his or her walk in the Word, there may be times that he or she feels that there is not enough growth. The very fact that we question our growth is a sign of readiness to grow. The next step is to allow the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) to teach us how to bear good fruit. To do that, every disciple can identify beliefs and practices that either stimulate healthy growth in the Word, or they stunt it. Welcome to the living fields of the Father's Garden! 
LaMalah Children's Centre

Orphanage Update: Good News!  
 For those of you who like to keep up with the children and Torah community in Kenya, I'm posting an excerpt from Brother Ndungu's update this month:

Shalom In Our Messiah's Name 
   ...If Abba wills, we are again going to Bungoma this coming weekend.  We were there 2 weeks ago teaching a group coming out of the Adventists. Please continue praying that more eyes will be opened to Torah and the true good news. 
   We hope to bring in the cow any day as soon as funds are available. 
   Our children are doing great, even performing well in school. This morning I am attending a parents general meeting. We give thanks to Abba that these children have 3 meals in a day and sleep and clothe well. 
   May Father continue to lead, guide and protect you.  
We are saving toward the purchase of a vehicle for transportation.  This vehicle will not just be for the orphanage, but for Brother Ndungu and the other elders to continue traveling to teach the Torah both within Kenya and surrounding countries.  If you can help toward this goal, as always, we welcome your assistance.  For those of you who send monthly support to the orphanage, we can't thank you enough for fulfilling Messiah's commission. 
Thank you for your faithful donations!