Preparing for Passover...in Love


A Commentary on the Daily Prayer of Repentance from Creation Gospel Workbook Six: a Study Guide to Standing with Israel.  Available April 2017.

Repentance - Teshuvah

Cause us to return, Our Father, to Your Torah, and draw us near, our King, to Your service, and cause us to return in perfect repentance before You.  Blessed are You, Adonai, Who desires repentance.

Repentance requires at least a rudimentary knowledge of what the Father's will is, for if one doesn't know a rule, then he will not know when he transgresses or obeys it.  Although each of the seven moedim teach some aspect of repentance, the matzah at Passover teaches two different sources of obedience to the mitzvoth: fear of God or love of God.  King Solomon said the sum of everything was to fear God and keep His commandments.  Yeshua said "If you love me, keep my commandments."

Rabbi Chanan Morrison cites Rabbi Kook in his article, "Matzah of Love," (Morrison, 2014), and he offers insight into these two motivations, fear and love, by using the Passover matzah as a teaching tool.  Each year at the Passover Seder everyone asks, "What is the reason for the matzah?"  The standard reply is that the dough of the Israelites did not have time to rise before God revealed Himself and redeemed them. Kook cites:

They baked the dough that they brought out of Egypt as unleavened matzah, since it had not risen, for they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay. (Ex 12:39)

However, on the first of Nissan, two weeks prior to their hurried escape from Egypt, the Israelites had been commanded:

On the evening [of Passover], you will eat matzot. (Ex. 12:18)

Kook then asks,

So why did our ancestors eat matzah? Was it because they needed to leave Egypt in a hurry? Or because God had commanded them to eat matzah?

R' Kook writes that there are two levels in the mitzvah of eating matzah. On the first night of Passover, it is obligatory to eat it. "During the rest of the holiday, however, eating matzah is optional. According to many authorities, even though one is not obligated to eat matzah on these days, by doing so one fulfills a mitzvah." 

There are two parts to the mitzvah: a Divine command, and a commemorative act.  On the first night, it is fulfillment of God's command, "In the evening you will eat matzot." This matzah is obligatory out of fear and reverence for Adonai and to demonstrate the acceptance of the binding nature of the Torah's commandments.

The additional days of eating matzah on the other hand, are seen by the Jewish sages as a symbol of hastened redemption. This is voluntary, an expression of Ahavah, which is feelings of love for the Father and appreciation for His great kindnesses to the ancient Israelites as well as to the individual in every generation.

Which service of God is greater - Ahavah or Yir'ah? The Ramban (Ex. 20:8) concluded that Ahavah is greater. For this reason, positive mitzvot - which express our love of God - are greater than negative mitzvot, which express awe. Thus, if there is a clash between them, the positive mitzvah takes precedence (Yevamot 21a). (Morrison, ibid).

Kook goes on to analyze a peculiar statement in the Talmud. After the resurrection of the dead, the mitzvot will be annulled (Niddah 61b). He explains that this statement does not contradict the fundamental principle that the Torah is eternal and will not change.

In fact, the mitzvot themselves will not change. What will change is how they are performed. They will no longer be observed as obligatory commandments of Yir'ah, but as voluntary acts of Ahavah, expressing love of God and His infinite grandeur.

The Talmud in Pesachim 119b describes a great banquet that God will prepare for the tzaddikim in the World to Come. At the end of the feast, God will bestow the honor of reciting the grace after meals to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

But why should they be given this special honor? The Sages determined that one who performs mitzvot out of obligation is greater than one who fulfills them voluntarily (Kiddushin 31a). If this statement were to be understood at face value, then why should the Patriarchs be given this final honor? After all, their mitzvot were on a "lower" level, performed voluntarily, before the Torah was given at Sinai. (Morrison, ibid.)

Nonetheless, the mitzvot of the Patriarchs contained a special advantage. They performed their mitzvot out of Ahavah, which is higher than Yir'ah. Their mitzvot reflect the future world, when the Torah will be observed naturally, purely out of love.

For those who were not born into Israel naturally, but grafted in, this Jewish insight into the matzah is good news!  As the apostles point out to the Gentile believers so many times, their relationship to the Torah is like Abraham's, who was called before he was circumcised.  Abraham obeyed each commandment he learned in a natural progression long before the formal national covenant was given at Sinai.

For the native-born Israelite, or Jew, the order begins with the path of mandatory observance, through the discipline of Jewish Halakhah (Oral Law).  "This is the fundamental path of serving God - the service of Yirah, obedience and submission. The initial mitzvah of eating matzah, on the first night of Passover, is thus mandatory.  But we continue with the higher path, serving God through love and Ahavah." (Morrison, ibid)

Jews also continue eating matzah as a love mitzvah for seven days, so whether one comes first as a Gentile in love for the commandment, or first as a circumcised Jew in reverence for the commandments, the end result is the same: obedience in love.  The mitzvoth will be learned and obeyed in both reverence and love, and therefore the path of repentance for everyone is the same.





A Personal Note about this Conference

Although I've been very busy preparing for the Israel study trip, I've also been meditating on what to bring to this wonderful Gathering the Scattered conference.  As I was teaching the Torah portion to my Tuesday afternoon students this week, it finally clicked.  It clicked because the writer of the Hebrews points out that all the suffering and trials we endure for His Name's sake are so that we can have a better resurrection.

That's huge, when you think of it.  There is a resurrection, and all will be resurrected for judgment.  Some will be resurrected to eternal life with Yeshua.  For each of us, however, there is an opportunity for a BETTER, GREATER resurrection. And apart from those of us still alive today, all those heroes of faith listed in the Book of Hebrews were not made perfect.  Another astounding statement!  They are waiting for us to complete our suffering for the sake of the Word, and crying out, "How long, O, Lord..."?

So, at the conference, let's visit "How long, O Lord...?," what it means to be 50,00 Degrees and Cloudy, how to locate the Seven Shepherds of Sukkot and the Eight Princes of Chanukkah, and to look for a Better Resurrection at the Gathering. 

Don't wait. Register now as space is limited. We can't wait to see you there!   http://gatherthescattered.com/register/


Can You Help?

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!

The BEKY Book authors have poured our hearts into carefully selecting and placing words in these booklets to encourage newcomers that there is a better way to walk in the truth of Yeshua.  If you can post a "good report" on amazon.com or goodreads.com, then you can boost this work.

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!


Messianic Shabbat Service in Spanish

The Kindle and paperback version of the Spanish version of BEKY Book Messianic Shabbat Service is now on Amazon.







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: More Good News!  
 
We have forwarded funds to the Children's Centre for the purchase of another cow, some special school needs for the children, and sundry Passover supplies this month.
       
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. 

The vehicle also will help in the procurement of less expensive maize (corn), a staple which has been affected by the famine in Kenya.  Local supplies are much more expensive, and although less expensive maize can be found, it is some distance from the orphanage.

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!  
 
http://www.thecreationgospel.com/donate/