This is a lengthy one, but it is a question that was brought to us a while ago by an active member of the US military. We wanted to do all that we could to cover as much as possible to help make their journey with Yahweh as peaceful as possible while fulfilling their responsibilities and commitment to their job.
Becoming Torah observant and committing to following the Sabbaths and Feast days can be complicated in our modern age, especially for those who work outside of the home. Rearranging a job or business can be very complicated for some. One group who is particularly challenged are Yahweh’s followers who hold a military position. Certain schedules are required by regulation and immovable depending on rank or duty assignment. What can you do to make life easier for yourself, so that you can better follow Yahweh’s commandments, the Sabbaths, and especially the feast days?
To be honest, the first thing you should address is your personal belief on the subject of calendaring. Calendaring amongst Torah observant individuals is a seriously hot topic as many people have their own opinions and thoughts on the matter. Yet, what is right and just from the perspective of the Word?
Our first suggestion would be to have you read and study our free book on calendaring. No matter what calendar you are currently following, you may not know this perspective on the subject which addresses it from solely a biblical perspective. We cover exactly who has the right to decide which calendar to follow. This free e-book gives a different and clear scriptural perspective that others don’t often take into consideration.
At Shofar Productions (The main ministry) and Torah For Women we follow the Hebrew calendar. This decision was based on the information discovered during our studies before publishing our free ebook on calendars.
For those in the military, following the Hebrew calendar will likely have many blessings that you may not have thought of before. The dates for Holy Days will be the traditional ones used by most Torah Observant people, as well as businesses, and even school systems for the biblical holidays. The US Military uses this calendar as well to establish the Hebrew Holy Days which many of the Torah observant staff will follow.
For example, although your immediate supervisor and/or commander may not be willing or able to give you all the Feast days off, following the Hebrew calendar MAY make it easier for you to arrange for leave on at least SOME of the Feast days because they will coincide with the standard calendar dates used by your unit.
A plus is that since these will also likely be the same dates that other TO individuals on base will follow, you may find some common ground. You may find it easier to identify families with home assemblies or some on base religious services for Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah for Jews), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and for the beginning of Sukkot. You may also discover that with Sukkot, a space may be set up somewhere on base or at base housing where families are meeting in Sukkahs.
How difficult it is to actually get this time off, may depend upon whether your commander is willing to respect your individual religious views. It may also be dependent upon how many Torah observant people are in your unit, or in your job position. It may also be dependent upon how critical your job is. Security or law enforcment duties as well as medical may be critical positions which may not be easily replaced. Especially if you are new at your duty station. There may be others who will be given leave ahead of your request based on seniority. If leave is not an option, there may be a way to work some of your schedule around so that you have off on at least some of the Holy days.
What Do I Do If I HAVE To Be On Duty During High Holy Days?
You do the best you can to follow Yahweh’s commandments and the biblical teachings.
I have learned over the years that there are times when we make things more stressful for ourselves by believing that we have to make every Feast day and Shabbat absolutely perfect. It is still my dream (Or maybe my fantasy!!!) that we will one day enjoy just ONE YEAR where every single Feast Day goes HALF-perfect!!! There are times, though, when something like an ox in the mire just happens to pop up at the wrong time.
Our experiences have always been memorable, and many we look back on now and laugh. There was the year we put up the Sukkah only to receive a hurricane warning!!! Thank goodness it down graded to a tropical storm, but my poor husband was awake around 3 AM one night and heard strange sounds outside. He ended up chasing the Sukkah across the yard in horrible winds while trying to roll up the fabric sides, and trying to tie it back down again!!! There was the year it was stormy every night and bitter cold the whole week which prevented us from using the Sukkah at all. Then last year when we were in our new home, on the mountain, in the woods in a new state. When neighbors warned us of having seen a bear in the area, we just looked at each other asking, “Do we WANT to put up the Sukkah and eat every night with a bear????” We set up a make-shift Sukkah inside. . . .We have the same look on our faces this year as we learned that the copperheads come out in the evening and eat the cicadas and locusts between now and Sukkot!!!! If the two bugs are not gone by then, do we want to set up the Sukkah and run that risk of dining with venomous snakes???
Experiences like these have helped me to study deeper and become much more focused on the meaning of EACH Feast Day. And to also study what we can accomplish in the diaspora. You see, we can spend so much time trying to follow the Feast Days to perfection that we forget to understand the reasons for them, the meaning in them, and the lesson Yahweh would have us learn through them. We also run the risk of over-burdening ourselves to the point of not finding Shalom in these blessed times. Because of this, we might need to take a step back and relax for a bit. Then, to help with this, ask yourself, from the scriptures, “what exactly is required of me for EACH Feast, and what are those things that cannot be fulfilled because we do not have a Temple?”
Those things that are required that you CAN fulfill are the things that you should do your best to accomplish. Make your list and explore ways that you can accomplish these to the best of your ability while still working your duty position.
The biggest detail for Feast days is that there are times when we are commanded not to work. Then there are a couple where we are to do “no servile work". Examples of the differences would be that on the Day of Atonement, for example, we are not supposed to work at all. Yet the First and Eighth days of Sukkot are Sabbaths on which we are allowed to cook.
If you end up having to work/be on duty during High Holy Days, you will just do the best that you can to honor those dates.
The first thing to do would be to pray for those times to be quiet times at work. Next, here are some Ideas to remove as much work as possible from your Shabbat and Feast routines:
-- prepare for foods early for these blessed dates. If you have a place to keep canned or prepackaged meals, grab foods that you can keep easily for the 24 hour Holy Day. If you normally eat at a cafeteria, grab foods that you can store easily for the amount of time you will have for the Holy days. Remember, there may be a couple of them coming up that go right from Holy Day into weekly Shabbat - so for these you may need to stock up for two full days!
If you have a refrigerator that you can use, whether in your dorm or in the duty station, this is a BIG plus and will help with meals. You can easily put pre-made sandwiches into the refrigerator for you Sabbaths, or even “plates” for reheating throughout the holy times.
-- Shine boots, prep uniforms, wash laundry, do everything that you can in advance of Sundown on the Holy day. Weekly Shabbat is a great time to practice this and get yourself into the habit so that you don’t do unnecessary work during the Feast times. The more preparation done in advance, the more free time you have with Yahweh during that day. If you have to work, you may find an extra 30 minutes or more in the morning to read, study or pray before reporting for work.
-- Include as much prayer and study time as you can on those days. Do you have a small set of scriptures for your pocket? Or an APP on your phone that has the scriptures? How about a small pocket notebook and pen or pencil? Set aside a small section of this notebook, pick a subject that has to do with your becoming closer to Yahweh, something you have been meaning to study for a long time, or that is directly related to the particular Feast Day, study that and take notes in your notebook.
-- Prayer time doesn’t need to be in a closet, or on your knees if that is impossible. Have dead time while on duty? Close your eyes, focus on something prayerful, and spend that time with Yahweh. If someone asks, just explain to them you are doing the best, while on duty, to honor your religious Holy Day of (Whatever day it is). This might surprise you - they may ask for more information.
Remember that little notebook you brought with you? Before you leave your quarters, why not write down a list of people you know are in need of prayer that day? Social media, online groups, your home assembly all will have people who are in need of prayer warriors. This quiet time would be a great time to bring out your little book and pray for those on your list.
-- Try not to shop, or visit any businesses for personal things on those days. Make sure you did everything humanly possible prior to the Shabbat or Feast day by running errands, shopping, banking, etc before the day is upon you. You may run into that rare occasion where the officer in charge at work wants you to run to the store for something. Is it a real necessity? Is there a way they can ask someone else? For this one, you may find yourself in a personal dilemma - you don’t want someone else to break the Sabbath or Holy Day, but you know you don’t want to either. Weigh your options and do everything you can to avoid having anyone run the errand that day.
-- When working, do your job the best you can and think of it this way: preservation of life is key. Is your career field one that is required for the preservation of life? Security forces, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, EMTs, Fire, they aren’t exempt from honoring the High Holy Days, but often on a High Holy Day do have to fulfill the need of preservation of life. This tends to fall into the “ox in the mire” category. If you feel impressed after working, kneel before Yahweh and ask him to forgive you for anything that you may have done that He might find offensive, and ask him to guide you to ideas to make it better next Sabbath or Feast Day.
Some military personnel who have written to us and others we have read have stated that they tend to use some of the following as guidelines in their decision making as well:
Mission critical - you may not be able to have off or to honor the day because you and your unit may have a specific mission. Especially in cases of deployment. In this case, explore ways that you can do the best you can in that situation.
The Greater Good - remember that your responsibility is for the greater good. Think of times in the scriptures where Yahweh’s people needed to be protected. Were there soldiers positioned at key points to ensure that protection? Did they take “time off”? One example to study out would be 2 Kings 11:5-9.
You are protecting the nation AND family - part of the responsibility of the military forces is to be there to protect and defend against enemies foreign and domestic. You are honoring your contract and obligation to do this.
-- I often wonder if, while being in the military, eating clean may be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish if you are required to eat at the (cafeteria) or other on-base facilities. You may be able to see that some items served are obviously unclean. Bacon, pork chops and such are clearly not clean, but what is hidden in the ingredients may not be as obvious. You will need to do your best to follow your biblical diet by avoiding those products.
In the end, are there some who decide that getting out of the military is their only option? Yes, some have chosen to do this. It is a personal decision based on your conviction and conscience. Something that you will need to weigh after careful study and prayer on the matter. If you choose to continue to serve, you at least have ideas and options to explore to help you keep your Holy days, while also fulfilling your duty.
From Torah For Women, we wish you well, and may Yahweh bless you with the safety and protection you need to continue to serve. Our prayers are with you. Blessings and shalom.
Do you have more ideas that you would add to these? Message us and let us know!
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Torah Observance in the Military
“You shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God seven days.”
Leviticus 23:40 WEB
As Sukkot approaches, it saddens me to see so many people who are on extremely tight budgets that would love to decorate yet haven’t the extra money to spend. Many of us are in the similar situations, where other things are higher on the priority list right now. Maybe this is the year that many may need to take a step back and ask themselves:
“What would Gramma do?”
In days of old, would Gramma or Great-gramma run to Target, Hobby Lobby or Wal-mart and grab things that were already made? How did they decorate before silk flowers and straw wreaths, potted mums and mini-hay bales? They used what they had.
Well, I thought I would share what happened to me the other night. It was another moment when Yahweh was so very good to us, even with the little things. Another lesson learned!
First let me say that I fully understand decorations do not make Sukkot one of Yahweh’s feast days. Yet it does bring us pleasure to have some beautiful harvest items to brighten the Sukkah and house, and it also creates an atmosphere of celebration. No matter how the weather has been, what decorations we have had up, or whether we have had visitors to feast with, Sukkot has been special, enjoyable, and a truly blessed time with my husband every single year. Yahweh has always provided for us, both physically and spiritually during this Feast as well as during all other Feast days.
That being said, I do truly enjoy decorating for fall and for Sukkot because autumn is one of the most colourful times of the year. Last year I loved the meme that said, “My favorite colour is October!" It fit so perfectly. As we go to the stores, I see all these lovely things for hanging or just setting around the house and Sukkah. So many bright colours - yellows, oranges, reds, burgundy, green!!! I enjoy looking at all the new creations and found myself wishing we could get just a few things this year. There just isn’t any extra for spending on new autumn decorations. Even our garden did not help with squash or pumpkins to set around. These just did not grow in our new garden this year.
Instead of the excitement I normally feel, this year I was feeling a bit surly because I just kept dwelling on the negatives - how we were going to have to just settle with what we already own. As I was getting ready for bed one night, I half hearted said in my mind, “I wish we could do some nice, new decorations like wreaths, sprays, and stuff.” Siiiiigh.
Suddenly I remembered all the acorns that are falling this year. I was wondering what I might be able to make from them. As I searched online, more and more ideas came to me using things that we have around our yard and woods! My mind flooded with ideas for grapevine wreaths, acorn wreaths, candle holders, and even sprays to hang up outside!
Suddenly I was excited again about autumn decorating. I was excited that we are going to have plenty of new things to put around the house, outside and in the Sukkah. I could hardly wait for morning to come so that I could run outside and find those grapevines I had cut in the spring, and get started. I wrote myself a note with all the cool ideas Yahweh inspired me to write, plus I saved photos from websites onto my tablet to use as reference for making our new decorations. I even wrote down that I was hoping to make four large wreaths and one small one from the grapevines.
I went outside and started gathering vines and whipped together the first wreath. It went together SO easily, much more than I recall doing it years ago. I gathered more and more vines from the wood pile, and sat down to drink my coffee and work some more. When I was done, I was truly blessed to have enough vines to make FIVE wreaths for our Sukkah. The funny part was that I had completely forgotten about what I had written the night before about wanting 4 large and one small wreath. Later, when I looked at my note to cross off finished tasks, I was astonished to read what I had written the night before was EXACTLY what I had been blessed with from our trimmings.
While outside, I also found some decorative grasses growing in a ditch. I am hoping to use those to add to at least one or two of the wreaths to decorate them nicely. I gathered goldenrod, rose hips, and branches from other bushes growing around the yard. I hung bunches of dried herbs, too, that will add a bit of texture and colour to the wreaths.
In addition, I have several sprays of silk autumn leaves and flowers that I can include to brighten them up, too. Next week I also will be trimming and drying more wildflowers I have found growing around the edges of the woods, around the street and in the field. Between all these ideas, we will be filling our Sukkah not only with beautiful decorations, but each will be a true testimony of how Yahweh is our provider, AND of how beautiful the harvest is all around us. Yahweh’s creations are so beautiful to look at and enjoy, if we just open our eyes and look.
Thank you, Yahweh, for even the LITTLE things in life.
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What Would Grandma Do?
I don’t normally do crafty items as a blog article, but this year so many we know are on tight budgets. I thought I would share some of my ideas to help you decorate for autumn and Sukkot.
For years I have been making fabric stuffed pumpkins to set around for decoration. Normally I run out to the store and buy fabric, bring it home to wash, dry, cut and sew. This year, I have been trying to do all that I can as inexpensively as possible.
I went through all of my old fabric scraps and found several pieces that are large enough to use to make pumpkins from. So many colours and patterns! And so very simple to make. For stems and tendrils I used an old brown paper bag and pipe cleaners. So far I have 18 pumpkins, with at least 3 more to finish before Sukkot! I may make more, depending on how much time I have to complete them AND how much stuffing I have to fill them all. To think, I just discovered an old curtain panel in autumn shades hidden in a box that would make two nice pumpkins if I cut it just right!
I thought I would share this idea with everyone along with a photograph of our “pumpkin patch,” to help encourage you to use items you may have laying around. You can easily create some great decorations that can be packed away and reused year after year.
A quick note about ours, though: although there may be ways that these can be created to be safe for outdoor use, ours are not. I will be watching the weather during Sukkot to make sure they are not damaged should bad weather creep in. I will need to bring them indoors at night, as well, because the dew has started collecting as the nighttime temperatures have gone down a bit.
It is nice to know that, with these little additions and our new grapevine wreaths and woodland sprays, the Sukkah will be all set for the feast. Yahweh has shown us once again that there is no need to spend a lot of money, and in fact, you may not have to spend ANY money to create a festive atmosphere for the Fall Feast days.
We would love to hear what fabulous ideas YOU came up with to decorate YOUR Tabernacle for the Feast?
Directions for The Stuffed Fabric Pumpkins
Skill level: Easy
All you will need is:
Fabric –you can buy remnants, or use scraps. Old shirts, jeans, sheets and even t-shirts can work
Stuffing – Polyester fiberfill, or if you want to recycle, use old shredded paper!
Brown paper – lunch bags, old grocery bags, or brown craft paper for stems
Pipe cleaners or paper ribbon for spirals
The common fabric sizes:
16 by 21 inches for tall, thin pumpkins
5 by 12 inches for TINY pumpkins
8 by 16 inches for small pumpkins
14 by 25 inches for a large pumpkins
14 by 32 inches for even larger pumpkins
Cut the fabric to size, leaving clean edges for sewing.
Step 1: For a short, plump pumpkin, match the short, cut edges together, with the RIGHT side of fabric on the inside, and pin. For the tall, thin pumpkin, match the long, cut edges, right side of fabric together, and pin. The wrong side, or inside of the fabric should be facing you.
Step 2: Stitch a 3/8 inch seam, along your pinned edge, forming a tube. Iron the seam flat and turn the tube right side out. There is no need to sew finished edges on the top and bottom unless the fabric frays easily.
Step 3: Gather the bottom edge with needle and thread, then pull closed and tie off tightly. Partially gather the top edge in the same way, but do not pull tightly. Loosely gather and leave a large enough hole to stuff the pumpkin.
Step 4: Stuff your pumpkin loosely, making sure that it is fully stuffed, but not over-stuffed.
Step 5: Pull the top threads tight to finish the gathering the same as the bottom then tie it shut.
Step 6: To create the pumpkin sections like a real pumpkin, you will need thick thread (embroidery or upholstery thread), or yarn. Thread a long needle with a long piece of thread, tie a knot in thread end. Run your needle through a small piece of the gathered fabric at the center of the bottom of the pumpkin, anchoring the knot. Wrapping the thread around the top of the pumpkin, go all the way around the pumpkin, meeting the thread again at the bottom, dividing it in half. Pull a little tight so that you have an impression in the pumpkin where the thread has sectioned it. Tie a quick knot around at the bottom to hold the thread in place. Turn the pumpkin ¼ to the right to create another section. Take the thread around the top, meeting again at the bottom, tie the thread again. This divides it into quarters. Turn the pumpkin to the right again about 1/8 of a turn, to the next section and repeat the process two more times, creating a total of eight sections when finished. Remember to tie at the bottom each time around to anchor the thread and help keep sections taut.
Step 7: For the stem, cut a small piece of brown paper - crumple it nicely to look rustic. Then roll it up to look like a stem, glue the edges together, and glue it to the top at the center. I use a warm glue gun for this. For added effect, pipe cleaners can be used to make spirals, which are glued where the stem meets the pumpkin.
A quick note: there may be ways that these can be created to be safe for leaving outdoors all the time, but we don’t. We bring ours in every night to avoid damage from dew or passing night-time showers. Treat your pumpkins accordingly. And ENJOY!
Another note about stuffing - Don’t have the extra money for a big bag or box of polyester fiber fill? How about a couple of old pillows that you were thinking of throwing out? Is the filling still good enough to use? OR - Remember your paper shredder - I discovered this wehn I ran out of stuffing and needed to finish filling some pumpkins and found that the shredder was packed full. It wasn’t as easy to shape as the polyester fiber fill but it worked!
“Sometimes I wonder if what I say to people about God reaches them. I get frustrated that I can't help them see and hear the messages from Yahweh. I don’t want to see them tossed aside, but I feel like I can’t ‘save’ them all. . .”
Have you ever felt this way about your friends and loved ones? On your journey, have you ever wondered why you can’t bring all the berries in from the harvest? I did too. I don’t anymore. I realized some time ago that I am not able to reach everyone. . .
Let me share another lesson from the blackberry patch.
Picking blackberries a couple weeks ago, I tried to reach excessively far to grab 5 or 6 huge, juicy, plump berries in the woods that were about 5 feet away from the edge of our fence. My arms are not even 3 feet long from shoulder to tip of the finger, so you can imagine stretching 5 feet was. . . .A HUGE STRETCH.
As I extended my body out as far as I could over the fence to grab them, balancing on one foot, I got prickled, poked and scratched all over my arm and stomach. Then suddenly, the fence bent a bit too much, almost gave way, and I nearly fell face first into who-knows-what at the base of the berry bushes just the other side of the fence. I am sure I would have found a lot more prickers on my way down to the ground had I not caught myself. I might have also snagged all those thorns the size of tiger claws on the locust trees that have started growing there. I don’t know if we have enough bandaids in the first aid kit for what could have happened. Thank Yahweh I was able to balance myself at the last moment and did not tumble into the briars.
Dejected yet determined (and yes, maybe a bit stubborn, too), I moved my way down the fence line a little bit, picked the berries I could easily reach, and then stretched again to try for a few that were just out of reach. I pulled and grabbed as much as I could but they were still just a few inches out of my grasp. Finally, I lunged just enough to grab the tip of the branch that held the berries I was after. I attempted to grab them, only to have them fall to the ground and disappear out of sight.
I hadn’t learned my lesson yet, so again I moved my way a little FURTHER down the fence, only to try the same thing with similar results: as I lunged toward the berries, I bumped a bigger branch which hit the branch I sought, sending all the ripe berries into the air. I tried to catch a couple in the berry bowl, missed horribly, and they fell to the ground beyond view and very much beyond reach. Thank Yahweh I did not lose the ones I had already harvested in this mêlée.
By this time, I was finally getting a bit wiser, and realized that I have to accept that I just will not get them all. I had to admit that there are just going to be times when, no matter how hard we try, we just will not be able to reach some of the berries on the vine. We can work, stretch, grab, pull, and even lunge, but some berries just don’t seem to want to end up in the berry bowl. No matter what.
There often comes a time when we have to recognize that there is only so much we can do, and that we might need to step back, and allow someone else to have those berries that are out of reach or that fall to the ground. There may be a different purpose for those berries for now. One that we can’t see because of our hope for what we want to come to pass.
You see, although YOU may not be able to reach them all, those berries that fall to the ground will land on soil. As in the parable of the sower, some will land on good ground, some bad. Some in fertile soil, some not. And although it may not be the perfect situation in your own eyes, some of the newly planted seeds from your adventure may sprout anew. In a couple of years, you may be able to pick berries from lovely new bushes that came from those seeds you helped plant. In the end, the berry patch will spread, grow, and reproduce even more sweet fruit to be plucked up by the gardener. It may take time, patience, and cultivation once you see the seeds sprouting, but for now it may also be time to walk away and let Yahweh do the work.
Will I still stretch, and try to reach those who are just out of reach? Yes, I will, yet I have also learned a broader lesson. That is to assess the circumstances and what may happen if I push too hard, stretch too far, or do something that risks sending all the seeds flying in different directions! At some point, I may have to weigh the options and see that there may be consequences to myself, to those close to me, or to those I am trying to bring in from the harvest. Consequences I may not be fully aware of initially. Then again, there are also just some berries that aren’t for me to harvest because I am not able reach them.
Blessings and Shalom.
Matthew 13:3b-8 WEB
"Behold, a farmer went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them. Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn't have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”
Luke 6:46 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do the things which I say?"
The other day, a friend said to me that sometimes we fail to see what’s right in front of us. What she didn’t know is that she summed up perfectly the lesson I learned recently from our blackberry patch.
I have been praying all season for at least 8 cups of juicy blackberries to come from our patch. I have watched as they grew, blossomed, and attracted bumble bees. Little by little the blossoms turned to berries, they started to plump up, and then they started to ripen. I watched in anticipation as they started to darken, yet it always seemed that the biggest, juiciest, ripest berries were always just out of my reach on the other side of our fence. We own the woods on the other side, so it isn’t that I couldn’t go back there if I wanted to. It IS our property, but it is also where the “wild things” are!
We have been warned since moving in about rattle snakes being seen up this way, so we are very cautious about stepping into the woodsy zone unprotected, unprepared. Every day, though, those juicier, darker berries would tempt me, and every day I would say to myself, “Tomorrow I am going into the woods to get those!” In the mean time, I picked what I could easily find, finally ending up with about 4 cups which was just enough to make a batch of syrup for French toast and two servings of blackberry sorbet.
Sadly, I watched so many berries farther away fall to the ground, over-ripe, rotting as every day I said the same thing, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow." Finally one day I decided THIS IS THE DAY I am going into the woodsy zone. I was even going to dress for success with jeans, hat, long sleeves, herbal spray, boots, the works.
It didn’t take long, though, to change my mind and say, “FORGET IT! Not going.” Two things happened. First, my husband said that even if I picked them, he would not eat them because I went against his wishes and advice by going in the dangerous area where I should not have gone. He then reminded me of all the snakes that had been seen recently by neighbors. Then second: I had a friend post that she had found a timber rattler in her yard where she had never even seen ANY kind of snake before, let alone a venomous one. Reasons enough for me to finally admit it is not worth a couple of cups of blackberries to take such a chance.
Now, let me back track for just a moment to about several weeks ago: I got the impression that I should trim back the wild vines growing in the fence, and cut more of the overhanging tree branches, as well. I had trimmed a few that were obviously in the way earlier in spring, but not as much as I should have. For weeks I kept getting the impression to trim more. Yet I ignored it. Over and over again I ignored it, all the while complaining about my meager harvest and how I couldn’t reach the “best berries.”
Finally, the other day, I broke a branch off one bush that was in the way when I realized it was tangled in some grapevines that had worked their way through the fence in dozens of places. For me to finish the job I would need to trim A LOT of the fence area, on BOTH sides. The best part is that I could easily reach everything that needed trimming from a safe spot in the vegetable garden and not enter the woodsy zone. It was finally time to get to work.
As I cut and cut, you cannot imagine the feeling of repentance that washed over me, and the need inside of me to ask forgiveness for my ignorance and disobedience. You see, as I trimmed, I discovered that there were countless blackberry bushes hiding under all that nonsense, right in front of us.
You could clearly see that at one point, those bushes had been FILLED with blackberries. The obviously once-loaded stems were now hanging there, dried and empty of any juicy blackberries. Those had now rotted and fallen to the ground, wasted, instead of into our pantry as jelly and syrup for fall. It was very clear that had I paid attention to the impressions earlier in the season to trim away the old weeds, cut back on the “nonsense,” we would have had much more than the 8 cups we needed for one batch of jelly. We might have had more than enough for so much more.
Sometimes life is like that, too. We don’t listen to the directions from Yahweh, we don’t trim the weeds and over growth of negative things. We refuse to pay attention to the blessings that are right under our noses. Now Yahweh is busy trying his hardest to make up for my request of 8 cups of berries by showing me previously undiscovered small bushes with a few berries here or there left to add to the bag I have in the freezer. Whatever we do pick is a true blessing.
It is my prayer that we get enough for a full batch, but either way, it is clearly my own fault if we do not. Lesson learned. Moving forward, and praising Yahweh for what we DO have.
Blessings and shalom.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
We often get questions from sisters in faith who are struggling with a particular dilemma and don’t know how to handle it from a biblical perspective. One question we prayerfully answered a while back is a problematic scene that arises in this day and age with separated, divorced, split or estranged families. The question: how do you handle a funeral if there is someone who is a “difficult” loved one, or who is not welcome at the funeral or memorial?
Losing a loved one can be such a painful time for families and friends. Having so many different emotions with losing someone they hold dear, tempers may sometimes flair without intention. Most people will feel that powerfully strong need to say a “final farewell,” and yet it can be complicated by emotions of individuals or by past difficulties that have yet to be worked out.
Sadly, the loss of a loved often reminds us that life here on earth is short, and that Yahweh’s teachings should become more a part of our lives. This is often the time where many suddenly recognize they want to find ways to “let bygones be bygones.” It may become a time for some to earnestly try to put the past behind them. There are some families, though, struggling with moving on and it is just not possible to settle things because some are not ready to let go of past offenses. There are other times when it is just that the memorial or funeral is not the optimal place to address the problem because one or more of the parties involved is not ready yet to let go of hurt, anger or bitterness.
Whatever the reason, how do you accommodate as many people as possible in the mourning process, while attempting to keep the peace?
We have a simple suggestion from personal experience that may help.
My own family struggled with this when we lost a loved one who had a falling out decades before with one of his sisters. When he passed away, this estranged sister was devastated that they had never forgiven each other. She so wanted just a few moments to say goodbye to her brother, and to ask forgiveness of those who were willing to listen. Sadly, most of the family was too bitter and angry, hanging onto the past “sins” and offenses, and was unwilling to listen to her plea.
She was elderly, and I had offered, as did my oldest children, to go to the funeral home the day before the memorial to allow her private time to say her goodbyes. I have to say, she and I had not seen each other in decades and had no relationship. Plus, socially, we had different personalities, and we traveled in different circles. If we were to meet somewhere and strike up conversation, she is not someone I would have chosen to draw into my personal circle of friends. Yet she was family, and to me, God’s principles were more important here. Forgiveness needed to be allowed.
What I did not intend to happen played out angrily, though, as my attempts to do what was right caused so much drama with other family members. My suggestions of allowing her to have some personal time before the large memorial were not well received, there was some screaming and yelling, and it was forbidden for me to allow her to say her goodbyes. I was taken aback, because I believed it had been long enough and forgiveness was needed - on all sides. She actually seemed to be the only one willing to move forward, the only one willing to ask for forgiveness.
She was a great example to me, and I willingly forgave her on behalf of my family, even though they are still angry to this day. In the end, being forbidden to see her brother to say goodbye it caused her so very much unnecessary pain for years to come. She died years later, still hurting that she had never been granted forgiveness by the rest of family here on earth.
Death is so complicated for some, which is sad because life is challenging enough. It is troublesome when people allow death to bring out such bitterness from within us when we have the capability of being so much better than that. I sometimes wonder how her heart would have healed had she been given that moment to say goodbye and that simple act of loving kindness.
When faced with a similar situation, I pray you may recall some of our experience and that it will help you. Being that you are the believer in Yeshua, and the follower of His teachings, may you remember to ask yourself what you can do to facilitate the best possible situation for the most people.
Is there a way that those who do not get along may be allowed to visit the funeral home BEFORE the rest of the family and friends? Maybe you could reach out to those involved and talk about what might be best for THE ENTIRE FAMILY. For the estranged family member(s), schedule a time when others will not be there. Involve the funeral director in this process - they have worked through things like this before. They may even have more suggestions to help smooth things over in the family. They can also help should a situation of drama crop up, which may honestly happen. If necessary, the employees at the funeral home can have people cordoned off to an office area or even removed, if necessary.
During the process of mourning, we could all take heart to listen to the words in Colossians 3:1-15.
Blessings and Shalom.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
Yahweh (God) wants us to do our absolute best to keep the words in Matthew 5 where we are told to love those who hate us, and we are to do our absolute best to go two miles with them when asked to do one. There are those rare occasions, though, when we must discern whether it is better to keep them in our lives, or to step away for a time so that we can regain our whole selves and our spirituality. Sometimes, people are toxic to us, and they suck the life out of us.
We don’t intend for it to happen, but their negativity or sinful hearts weigh us down preventing us from growing spiritually. These are the times when we need to recharge by spending time in the Spirit and in prayer to Yahweh because this decision should not be taken lightly.
IF we need to walk away for a time, we should ALWAYS forgive them - and I mean a deep and pure forgiveness as we would wish to be granted. It can be difficult to do this, especially when we have been truly hurt. But for our own well being and for our need to be healed spiritually, we must forgive.
Some will teach that a part of that forgiveness is to put yourself back in harms way again by continuing to associate with the negative person, yet as 2 Tim says, HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCH PEOPLE. What people? Those who exhibit and cannot control any of these traits: “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. . .”
During this time away, it is very important to place those people in the hands of Yahweh. Continue to pray for them. Ask Yahweh to help them with a soft heart, and to impress upon them what their issues might be. Since your influence may not have been helpful for the person, it is also good to pray that Yahweh place in their life someone who CAN influence them to follow Him that they may be more like Yeshua’s example while he dwelled on earth.
There are personality conflicts that just happen in life. We may not be the right fit for friendship with another person, but someone else may be. It is important to be able to recognize when you are not being a positive influence in someone else’s life, too. This may be one of those times when someone else may have a better impact in their lives. Pray that Yahweh arrange for that to happen.
Also pray for yourself. To overcome any and all seeds of bitterness, anger, frustration, or negativity toward the other person. So that you see them with pure love and forgiveness. There may come a day when the door opens to that relationship again. Be spiritually ready for that day, and remember to hold no ill will or grudge for the other person. Remember - as Yahweh works on your heart, he is able to work on theirs as well.
Blessings and Shalom.
I would like to introduce you to my scripture cards. A simple little tool I picked up at an office supply store a few years back - in several colours: blue, green, purple, and floral. I love these little packets because they come with note-cards already punched with a hole in the corner, a sturdy little key ring, a plastic cover and an elastic band to hold them closed when I toss them in my pocketbook. About a year ago I added tabs so that I could see where my topics were divided and I could find them easily.
I have realized over the years that sometimes I need a little spiritual pick-me-up and I can’t always use my technology. There are dead zones and forbidden zones where we get no signal, which means sometimes I need something a little more “old fashioned” instead. These little packets are easily slipped inside my pocketbook, briefcase, glove box, or tote bag.
Each of my little packets is divided into several sections, and each section has a topic on the tab. I have written scriptures on each note-card for quick reference. There are topics such as:
--Anxiety and Fear for when we are suddenly tossed into a challenging situation and need to over come concerns.
--Healing for when I need to refocus on the healing words in the Bible
--Success to keep me motivated and focused on what Yahweh wants for us.
--Prosperity both spiritual and earthly
--Strength and Courage - we could all use a little bolstering up in this area when worldly attacks move our way.
You might choose to divide your sections into different topics that fit your needs right now. As life changes you might find you add to the categories, too, and this is great. Little by little you will find that you are building upon the rock, the foundation that you have inside of you. Yahweh tells us to write the word in our hearts and on our minds and this could become one of the tools you use for achieving this goal.
I love to suggest these cards to families, too, because they can be used to help children in so many different ways. They can learn to memorize scriptures, use their own set of cards to strengthen their journey and relationship with Yahweh, and even when a child is struggling with something spiritually, they can call on uplifting verses quickly and easily by referring to their scripture cards.
Having easy and quick access to verses which bring us guidance, direction, comfort and peace can help us to focus more directly on all the promises of Yahweh. It will also help us to always have the Word in our hearts and in our minds.
My son, attend to my words;
Incline thine ear unto my sayings.
Let them not depart from thine eyes;
Keep them in the midst of thy heart.
For they are life unto those that find them,
And health to all their flesh.
Blessings and shalom.
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”…
Recently Torah For Women was counseled about our book on women and tzitzit and told our teaching is “too relaxed” because we do not teach the rabbinic and/or Talmudic "laws" regarding who can and cannot, where they are to be worn, what colours they MUST be, except of course the scriptural reference to the thread or ribbon of blue, and other such regulations. I am actually pleased to announce that we have now officially been accused of being both ends of the spectrum - too relaxed and too rigid.
Some accuse TFW of being too rigid because we teach the Torah and follow the Feast days and biblical interpretation of clean foods, while apparently others feel we are too relaxed by not enforcing what they see as laws.
Here is what you can count on from TFW - teaching of the TORAH and the entirety of the bible. Scripture interpreting scripture. We will always stand by the firm belief that Yahweh’s teachings are not restricting, not burdensome, not legalistic, not controlling over our lives. We have seen many people leave what they proclaim to be legalism within their previous denomination, only to place heavy burdens and often many more “laws” upon themselves than what they followed before. Even more often these new “laws” are not even based on scripture.
We are told to come unto Yeshua, bear the yoke, learn from him because in him we will find rest. We are told that yoke is EASY and the burden is LIGHT. If you continue to feel that Torah For Women is too “relaxed” in it’s teachings on the tzitzit, or any other teachings, then our suggestion would be to take our lessons, teachings, from the blogs, articles or books, and test each against the word of Yahweh. We are not the final word or decision on such teachings. Yahweh always will be.
Blessings and Shalom
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”…
This morning I was asked, "what should we do???” Here it is the day of Pesach, which starts at sundown this evening. It is time to clean out the biblical leaven. From a biblical perspective, cleaning out the leaven is actually as simple as throwing out the actual biblical leavening agent and any leavened bread - leaven is yeast or yeast based. In ancient times, the leaven (Yeast) was from the sourdough starter that was used. This would include any breads, rolls, biscuits, and sometimes flat breads or tortillas that were leavened (risen) using a yeast or sour dough starter.
In Exodus 12, verses 15-20 talk about the actual requirements:
“Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.” See also: Leviticus 23:4-8; Numbers 28:16-25; Deuteronomy 16:1-8
Although it is not commanded to clean out every nook and cranny of our homes, traditionally many people do. Yet this is only tradition.
The leaven used in biblical times was what we call today sourdough starter. It was a lump of raw dough from a previous loaf that is added to the next loaf to cause it to rise. Historically speaking, they would take that lump, set it aside in a bowl, covered, and add it to the next loaf. We do the same today by taking a portion of sour dough starter, feeding it, storing it for the next loaf, and taking the leftover portion to make a loaf with.
Baking soda and baking powders were not used in baking until much later, and thus we do not consider them the same as biblical leavening. Although baking soda (bicarbonate of sodium or sodium bicarb) was used for mummification purposes in ancient times, it was not for baking. This is why we teach that you do not need to throw them out for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They are not actual leavening agents as they do not cause the same fermentation/gaseous process as yeast does.
What we think of "cakes" mentioned in the bible are not at all like the light, fluffy sweet cakes we eat these days. Our cakes use baking soda or baking powder. The ancient cakes would have more likely been a drier, whole grain cake that would either have been a flat cake or leavened with sourdough. Even the sweet cakes would have been heavier than we are accustomed to seeing. After the spring Feasts are over, it is fun to start a new sour dough starter and try experimenting with making muffins and sweet breads with it instead of baking powder and baking soda. . .it takes practice, but it is much better for you in the long run. It also gives a good view of how the little lump leavens the whole lump.
When deciding what to eat right this minute or to toss in the trash, here is one way to look at it: The leaven in the bible is actually a living "creature." It needs to be fed - yeast, when you activate it, feeds off the sugars or carbs in whatever it is living in. It grows into a larger 'colony.' When you take a piece of that yeast dough (sour dough starter), then add it to a fresh batch of flour, the yeasts in the starter feed on the natural sugars in the new mixture, producing the gas, etc., which generates the rising effect.
You cannot take a dollop of dough from quick breads, cakes, cookies, etc., which contain baking soda or powder, and add the dollop to the next batch to generate "leavening the whole lump." If you have left a batch of any of these batters sit too long, you can see it will not rise any longer. It is "flat." It also will not re-leaven if you add more sugar or flour to 'feed' it because it cannot be fed. Leaven from the bible is something that is fed, re-fed, and fed again. . . . Each new batch getting stronger and more active.
Biblical leaven, though, can almost always be re-fed (unless you left it unfed horribly long and all the yeast actually died of starvation). This is why sourdough starter should be fed at least once per week in cold or rest times, or every day if you are using it regularly. It is much more than just the chemical process produced by baking soda and powder (which is nothing more than baking soda and cream of tartar).
Our answer is simply: No, baking soda and baking powder are not commanded to be avoided. If someone "chooses" to avoid them, that is their choice, but it is not part of the commandment.
May you have a blessed Feast Day and may your final preparations today go wonderfully easy.
Chag Sameach Massah!!
More and more often there are reports amongst believers these days claiming there is no revival in the Scriptures and that there will only be a great falling away. These people will deny the existence and the power of revival as well as deny the Spirit’s ability to take part in this end time event in the lives of those who seek it. They forget that the Spirit has already come and has never left us. He still operates today as he operated in the past, but he is looking for people that are hungry for more.
Oddly, this teaching and belief that denies revival, has come from those who have actually come out from what many may label as a “dead” church, one that does not exhibit the gifts and does not move in them. Yet while in that church, they themselves had experienced a great move in their own hearts. This move then prompted their journey back to scripture where they now study the word out deeper than they ever had before. In doing so, they have been immersed in what is obviously a "REVIVAL" of Yahweh’s Spirit inside of their own spirit where they seek even more.
If there is NO end time revival then what happened within them? Weren’t they “REVIVED”?
For several decades many prophetic voices have been predicting a great shaking will come - in America, in the world, and also in the church. These same prophetic people have been saying there would also be an end time revival. Now deniers are emerging right and left claiming these words are false, a lie, claiming there will NOT be an end time revival, but only a falling away, a “great falling away” that will happen.
As people are seeing healings, and a stirring of the gifts, more and more deniers are professing that these manifestations are false and lies from the adversary. As more and more people are stirred to leave their religions or denomination and rediscover their FAITH, others are right there ready to squash that faith and proclaim manifestations of that faith are all a lie.
It is important to note, that yes, according to scripture there is an end time falling away occurring amongst those who profess to be believers in Yeshua. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 talks of this and verse 3 even warns us about it.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; . . .” and again in 1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”
Yet, the interesting part is that even with many departing the faith there is also revival happening. Several mainstream churches are seeing their youth come alive and live up to the first century believers in Acts 2:17,
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: . . .”
Young men and young women all over America are prophesying about things they see happening in the church. They are coming forth with words about what is happening in our courts and to families, marriage, and also against their peers. These young people are jumping in with both feet, and calling their peers to return back to Yahweh. Little children are praying for people and people are being healed. Something is happening and it’s called REVIVAL.
This love for their Abba is having a domino effect and reaching the older crowds as well. They are being touched by the sweet innocence of the spirit stirred in the youth and children as they return to Yahweh.
So as time goes by, and the world is changing so quickly, as families and traditional beliefs are attacked right and left, we should recognize that these young people are a fulfillment of the Word that was given so long ago. Recognize their spiritual potential, study the Word for ourselves, and be ready to train them up in the way they should go.
Revival is happening, folks, and you can either continue to deny it, or you can help it spread in the hopes that as many as possible will be reached by Yahweh’s truth.
"If it is from God [which I believe it is], you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!" Acts 5:39
Blessings and Shalom.
Exodus 16:22-24 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning." So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it.…
Recently, in a panic, a sweet sister asked about these verses in Exodus. Her family was concerned deeply that they could not even boil water for tea or rewarm a pot of soup for Shabbat, and had concluded that baking or re-heating a casserole is strictly forbidden based on these verses. After much study, here are our thoughts about these verses and the terminology in question.
These scripture verses in Exodus appear to mainly apply to the requirements for the children of Israel in the wilderness when it comes to gathering, preparing and eating the manna. It does not appear to be directed to ALL of Yahweh's followers through out our generations. Many commandments which are given, such as feast days (See Day of Atonement Leviticus 23:31), include a statement that they are to be done for generations. These verses appear to deal specifically with handling the manna.
One thing to note is that the wording in it is not 100% clear whether they boiled and baked ALL their manna on the sixth day, and then saved the leftover cooked foods for Shabbat meals, or if they only cooked and boiled what they ate that day, saving the "raw" manna for Shabbat. Either way, there appears to be no clear commandment in these verses that says, “Thou shalt not. . .” when it comes to boiling or baking food on the Shabbat (Sabbath). It is also not something that appears to be forbidden ‘throughout your generations’, or ‘forever” as many other things are commanded. We therefore take the stance that baking or boiling an already prepared meal during Shabbat is acceptable for meals.
That being said, we ARE commanded to not labor or work on Shabbat, and to make it a day of rest.
Exodus 20:9-10 clearly states, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”
Leviticus 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
It is important to note that Torah for Women believes and teaches the Hebrew word used that is translated into the English word "work" in these verses would mean work that is done for your job or employment. We also recommend, as well, that any strenuous labor around the home, such as lawn mowing, laundry, cleaning, car repairs and such be put off as well. Our conclusion from scriptures is that these do not meet the description of rest that is also commanded for Sabbath observance.
Because the big question posed to us, though, addressed boiling and baking on the Shabbat, we felt it would be helpful to give some suggestions that we use at home to make our Sabbath day easier, while still being able to enjoy our meals. Remember, these are just ideas and are not commandments or written in stone. It is our hope that what these ideas may do is spark more creative ways for easing your life during the Shabbat to make it more restful, and filled with Shabbat SHALOM!
The first thing we have made into a habit is to start thinking about the next Shabbat as soon as possible in the week. Usually Sunday or Monday I start planning meals for Friday and Saturday so that we can pick up any additional groceries early. This ensures that prep day won’t be stressed with the additional task of shopping and putting away groceries. We also address any cleaning or yard work as soon as possible as well, and try to complete this by Thursday night. I often wiggle my laundry days around to fall on Monday and Thursday rather than Friday so that I can focus more on what is needed for Shabbat on prep day.
This leaves just the biggest task for us to do on Friday before sundown as making sure we have meals prepared in advance. We like to make sure that as much preparation as is possible is completed so that all we need to do on Sabbath is re-heat meals or assemble them at the table from already prepared ingredients.
For reheating foods, we have several different appliances we use depending upon what we are serving. Rice cooker, crockpots, and even our stove top or oven work well for just slipping foods in and allowing them to warm while we rest and read. Good ideas for easy serving would be soups, one-dish crockpot meals, casseroles, or sandwiches. Even cold cereals for breakfasts, because they are just pour and eat. Another favorite is to make some yogurt and oatmeal parfaits, then let them sit overnight in single serving containers. Each person can grab one in the morning as they get hungry. Sometimes I make muffins and we eat those for breakfast, or baked oatmeal. Hard boiled eggs are good, too, to go with any of these or to be eaten alone. I have also been known to whip up chicken salad or egg salad to be eaten on bread or even rolled in lettuce for breakfast. I will even slice and dice all vegetables or fruits we plan to eat, and place in containers for easy serving. All these preparations can be done in advance and then meals are eaten with as little work as necessary on Shabbat.
Many families prefer to make Friday until Sundown their official prep day for Sabbath and spend the day doing all their cleaning and preparation, while I prefer to spread things out a bit over the week. You will know which works best for you. Always remember, Prep Day is not the commanded day, by any means, and that Shabbat is. Having a day set aside for preparations, though, certainly helps alleviate a lot of stress or concern from the Sabbath and allows for more rest and time in prayer and studying the Word.
Other examples of what our Shabbat meals might include:
Friday morning, mix up TWO quiches - one for that day’s brunch and one to reheat Shabbat morning. Cooking one for the entire baking time means it can be eaten right away, while the other one is baked just until the egg is thoroughly cooked, but quiche is not browned. That way I can reheat it in the morning, browning the top nicely. I make sure that all the coffee is ground for morning, and that all water pitchers are filled on prep day, too. This means I don’t need to worry if there is enough filtered water for everyone to drink during the day. We don’t have an automatic ice maker, so I will also ensure that all our trays have been cracked and refilled.
For dinners and snacks: grilled chicken salad sandwiches with chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, and onions. These also can be used as a snack. I might also wash a couple of sweet potatoes or potatoes in case we get hungry in the afternoon Saturday, or maybe fix a huge bowl of chopped mixed fruits. The potatoes can just be tossed in the hot oven to bake and each person can serve theirs the way they like. For Shabbat dinner, I like to spice up chicken breast Friday early, and let it marinate a bit, then cook it before sundown either in the oven or in a fry pan. We often toss it into some salad greens with oil and vinegar. If it is cold weather, we love to have a big pot of soup and either just reheat it on the stove or put it in the crockpot and slow cook it throughout the day on Shabbat. Some casseroles are great made ahead and then just baked quickly for dinners, too. I have several recipes for chicken and rice style casseroles, pasta casseroles, Tex-Mex casseroles, or even Lasagna can be made ahead, partially baked, and reheated to finish baking on Shabbat.
A big complaint we hear from some sisters is the leftover dishes and mess when the sun sets on Saturday. I have seen photos of homes where toys, books, clothing, and dishes have been left laying around in an effort to ensure the day is “restful."
Three simple questions to ask yourself:
Is this restful for mom (and sometimes even dad) to look at this mess all day long getting bigger and bigger and bigger? Especially knowing that the likely candidate for clean-up after sundown is mom or dad.
Would you tolerate your home being left a mess like that any other day of the week?
Then why tolerate it on Shabbat?
Spring time is a great time of year to drum this one into ourselves. Sun sets around 9:00 pm in the US. How late do mom and dad wish to stay up washing dishes and putting things away? It is not work to simply pick up after yourself. In fact, it is common sense.
If someone gets out books or toys, they should put them away. If you spill something, wipe it up. If someone dirties a dish, they should grab a soapy sponge, wash it off, rinse it and place it in the dish rack. Simple. There are so many other easy solutions for keeping cleanup down to a minimum at the end of Shabbat. Another idea for dishes, if you have a dishwasher: just make sure it is empty as late as possible on Friday, and have everyone scrape their dishes, then place the dirties in there. They can collect all day and it can be run Saturday after sundown. Little children, of course, might need an older sibling or parent to help with these dish ideas, but it is still less stressful this way than to wait to clean an entire kitchen later in the evening. When all else fails, paper products work great too.
We know these ideas might not work for everyone, but maybe they will help you create new habits that will work for your family. Each home IS different and has individual needs that must be met. Our hope is to help you relax, and enjoy preparing for your Sabbath as much as you will enjoy the rest you get on that day.
Blessings and Shalom!
A few years ago, stories were floating around the internet about how certain terrorist groups were rumored to be feeding parent's their children in a demonic and wicked act of cruelty. People were appalled at such horrifying examples of cannibalism. Yet, as disturbing as this was to people, justification for cannibalism is actually happening amongst believers and it needs to be addressed.
Publishing this article may make a large number of faithful women angry, hurt, or upset, but it must be said. This is not something Torahforwomen.com ever thought we would need to address, yet we find ourselves in the position to take a stand on what may end up causing women serious sadness, grief, and anger. It is not our intent to hurt anyone, yet this subject, although it may be upsetting to some, needs to be addressed from a Biblical perspective, no emotion, just pure biblical Teachings.
Here it is: It IS NOT Torah (biblical teaching) to eat your baby’s placenta, ever. It is also NOT Torah to consume the placenta in pill form because, although it is not being cooked & served, or made into a "placenta smoothie", it is still the consumption of human tissue.
First let me say that it is uplifting to see women of deep faith so diligent about every little detail of what goes into their bodies or what they use in their home when it comes to pork and other unclean ingredients. In fact, women will not use gelatin capsules because of the concern for pork gelatin being hidden in the capsules ingredients. Mothers and wives will purge their cupboards of every food, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, or medication that may have contained pork or even seafood ingredients derived from unclean aquatic life. Out of concern for their own or their family’s eternal well-being, they will remove all the potential of sinning through ingesting something Yahweh has commanded as unclean. Yet, they will defend with angry outrage, their “right” to ingest their newborn child’s placenta.
To sum up the reasoning behind this practice: someone they know, either before or during their pregnancy, has convinced these women that they will not be able to control their hormonal fluctuations without consuming their baby’s placenta. I have studied all the defensive articles advocating this practice, as well as the history of the practice. I could go into more detail, but in all honesty, it does not matter what the reasons are, it all comes down to what YAHWEH says.
Leviticus 11:2-3 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'These are the living things which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. Whatever parts the hoof, and is cloven-footed, and chews the cud among the animals, that you may eat. . .”
Ask yourself one question based off Yahweh’s description: What makes meat clean food? Parted hooves (cloven) and chewing cud. Creatures that DO, we may eat, those that don’t? No. It’s that simple - Honestly. Yahweh has made a rule, a commandment, a clarification for us. Simply put, some living creatures ARE food and some are NOT. If a creature does not have a parted hoof (cloven foot), and/or does not chew the cud, we may not eat it. Period. So let me be the one to break the news to everyone, humans don’t meet the qualification as food. Humans are not edible according to the Levitical definition of “food”. End of discussion.
A placenta is human tissue - it is created when the fertilized egg splits inside the womb. One half of the egg becomes the infant growing inside the mother, while the other half becomes the organ which feeds the infant and acts as a filter for waste during the pregnancy. It is considered an human organ. When the child is born, the placenta is no longer needed, and the mother’s body expels it. Has it changed genetic properties simply by being expelled from the body? No. It is still human flesh or tissue and does not qualify as “food” for the mother or father, or anyone else, for that matter.
Someone will likely say, “But I am not eating it as ‘food’, I am taking it as a nutritional supplement.” Let me ask those people this: Would you take PORK ingredients as nutritional supplements? How about any of the other unclean beasts: Vulture? Eagle? Hawk? Shark? Shrimp? Tiger? Cat? Dog? Now, some of these might sound ridiculous, yet many (not all) of these are made into supplements of some kind or another and used in Chinese medicine which happens to be the biggest contributor to the original teaching on eating human placenta. If you would not take these supplements because they are unclean and unfit for you or your family, why would you take human tissue? On the other hand, I have discussed this issue with several women who WOULD take unclean items through supplements, for that I have to say, you should take this to the scriptures, weigh it against Yahweh’s truth, and seriously pray about whether it is right, and if you are living right according to HIS Torah (teaching).
Consuming human tissue, placenta, must be weighed against the teaching that Yahweh has given us for clean foods. There are some who have attempted to change the definition of “cannibalism” by redefining it as eating only the part of a human that is found between skin and bone.” Thus, by their definition, cannibalism only occurs when someone eats the meaty portion of a human that is found on legs and arms. This definition would leave any portion of the torso found beneath the skin and ribs free for human consumption - so they would justify eating human organs, and anything else you find inside. Crazy!! “Food for thought,” the OLDER definition used to be that cannibalism involved eating ANY human remains or parts, period!! No attempts were made to draw a line between what parts of a human are edible and which are not. One must kind of step back for a few moments and honestly ask, why would anyone even consider redefining the term??? For what purpose???? - Obviously to justify their practice.
Now that I have totally grossed most of you out by this description, let me clarify that the above "new" definition IS NOT our opinion of the proper definition of eating human flesh, also known as cannibalism. Cannibalism is eating any human flesh - period. We base our decision and definition solely on the description of food found in Leviticus 11. Plain and simple. Any variation from that definition given by Yahweh would be sin.
Some will say that it is acceptable to eat the placenta because cannibalism IS mentioned in the bible. However, what they do not teach is that when it IS brought up, it is always discussed in negative terms. Yes, Yahweh mentions women who are starving first eating placenta (afterbirth) and then consuming children in Deuteronomy 28:56-57 “The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter, and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in your towns.” I pray you will see that this is a CURSE, not a blessing, and certainly not, by any means, some form of permission or a commandment from Yahweh to eat human flesh! It is a curse as a result of their sins, a consequence of what is taking place in the world at that time. Because of their sins, they will end up eating their afterbirth, and then they will consume their children. Do you want to willingly participate in the fulfillment of this curse for sin?
One big detail here that also needs to be considered is this: Who is more powerful and whose instructions should you follow - that of a friend, blogger, midwife, naturopath, or doula? Or Yahweh? When we take the advice of another person over the teachings of Yahweh, and that advice is not in any way backed by the word of Yahweh, we have elevated them and their teachings above Yahweh and his Torah. This places us in a dangerous position spiritually.
It is complicated for the woman of faith who believes that consuming placenta has helped her overcome something as devastating as post-partum depression, and we have great compassion for those who have gone through such a trauma following childbirth. We run the risk of being called cold-hearted and unkind, or being accused of not understanding. That is a risk that we are willing to take in an effort to teach Yahweh’s truth, and it is a responsibility we must do, no matter the fall-out from women who profess to follow the scriptures.
There are options that an expectant mother can and should talk about with a qualified nutritionist, faithful midwife who follows Yahweh, or a believing naturopath, which should be someone willing to respect and honor the commandments of Yahweh above claims that there is some form of "medical" benefit. There are herbal supplements and remedies that may be taken safely following childbirth to stabilize and alleviate symptoms mothers may experience. There are also nutritional adjustments that may be able to be made through diet and even exercise. These should all be discussed with your professional caretaker, remembering that all supplements should meet the needs of both mother and newborn, as well as the commandments of Yahweh.
For additional scriptural discussion and information on this topic, please feel free to print and study the scriptural references, historical information and such contained in the PDF located below this blog article. We pray with all our hearts that you will find peace and comfort in Yahweh’s teachings, and that you will find a way to bring peace to your pregnancy as well as your weeks and months following birth, so that your experience and new motherhood will be a fulfilling blessed time for you and your new baby, as well as your spouse and family.
May you be blessed with much joy and Shalom.
One lesson we cannot seem to teach often enough is that Shabbat truly is easier than people want to believe it is.
One way to look at preparing for the Sabbath is treat it like it is the same as finding out on Monday that your best friend is going to come visit on Friday, but she can only stay for 24 hours. You know how the two of you are when you get together and want to catch up on everything that has gone on since your last visit. You hope to make a good impression plus you will probably talk for hours and hours, so you want everything to be JUST RIGHT when she arrives. From being organized to the house being cleaned and food prepared, you know it is going to take some time to get everything accomplished, but you have four whole days to get it done. Waiting until the last minute will clearly cause confusion and likely stress - something you are certain you want to avoid.
Your hope is that by preparing early you can alleviate the majority of tension that could arise for you or the family. You start by putting together a menu plan, get as much done Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as you can, shop early for ingredients you might need, clean on Thursday, cook early Friday, and then make sure that everything is wiped up and ready for when she arrives that evening.
You plan ahead by making sure you have something special baked for snacking on, some kind of drink that is her favorite - coffee, tea, lemonade, or something else delicious. You make sure the kids have PLENTY to keep them occupied while the two of you talk with as few interruptions as possible. It isn’t that you want to neglect the children, but you are praying for some quiet time to just catch up and have adult conversation.
You want to make sure the house is tidied up before she gets there, too. You clean the bathrooms, bedrooms, dust every nook and cranny, vacuum, mop, every imaginable thing you can get done, you get done well in advance.
You know that those 24 hours you are going to spend as much time talking together as possible, so you create meals that are easy to re-warm. The more prepared you are, the more time you can then spend enjoying each others company, eating together, maybe praying together, and just resting and relaxing. You are all excited and anticipating her arrival so that you can enjoy this special time together. When she arrives, you take her coat, tuck it away, make her comfortable, and viola! It is as simple as Shabbat!!
Sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it? Yet Shabbat really can be all that and less. Sadly, in an effort to do our absolute best to try to please Yahweh, we can become over-vigilant and create more work than is necessary for resting on Shabbat. They make their yoke difficult and the burden very heavy. By over analyzing, over preparing, over doing, we can then over stress.
Yahweh’s commandments for Shabbat are not complicated:
1) No Work
(Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15)
We find when someone is new to honoring the Sabbath, those two things don't seem to be enough yet those are the only things that need to be the focus. We often believe there MUST be more to it than that, especially if we came out of a denomination that had “Sunday sabbath" where there were a lot of meetings, prayer groups, gatherings, meals, and such. Our subconscious is accustomed to busy-ness all day on what we thought was “Sabbath", and discovering that it is just those two simple tasks makes it seem almost impossible to believe.
Shabbat doesn’t need to be anything major, fancy, or extravagant. You just follow Yahweh’s instructions for no work and for rest. A great example of the simplicity is the story from scripture about the manna. When planning for prep day and for Shabbat, Yahweh instructed them to gather every day, and then for the Sabbath, "On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily." Exodus 16:5 The people were to gather manna on the sixth day, their prep day, and on the 7th day they were to just eat what they had prepared for that day and rest. That was it.
While many websites will counsel you to incorporate numerous traditions such as candle lighting, specific prayers, or large feasts each and every week, this can get overwhelming, time consuming and expensive. These teachers often will also counsel on Rabbinic (Pharisee-type) micro-details such as turning on light switches, not being allowed to tear toilet tissue on Sabbath so you must pre-tear it in sections before sundown, not tying or buckling shoes, not driving a car, and so many other “micro-tasks”. These things are all man-made traditions, and Yahweh did not intend for it to be such an overwhelming burden. Shabbat (Sabbath), is a blessed day that Yahweh set aside (sanctified - Gen. 2:3) for you and your family and for your physical and spiritual rejuvenation (Mark 2:27).
Our hope is that you see that truly your Shabbat can be as easy and as exciting as having your best friend come to visit. By preparing early throughout the week, when the day finally arrives, we can rest in His Shalom and enjoy the day in His presence.
Blessings and Shalom.
Sound Bites - 3 minutes or less
Recently while listening to a teacher we enjoy, he stated that modern followers of Yahweh are too impatient. You see, because we are so used to instant gratification with TV, cell phones, internet, and other forms of technology, many people feel that what they need to learn or know should be given to them in 3 minutes or less. I am impatient, too, at times, but there is also that other side of me that enjoys taking more time to study things out. I learned how to do this and also how important this is many years ago as a young mom.
When the kids were younger, I got used to sitting and waiting while they went to sports practices, music lessons, and even doctor appointments. Before I had a cell phone with social media and all the games and APPS that come with it, I had to check things out from the library and do it the old fashioned way. There were even times I would bring an art project I was working on at the time, and listen to scriptures or talks on CD or cassette tape while I worked on it. This gave me the extra time I was seeking to put into studying and even into my relationship with Yahweh through prayer, which I very much appreciated. I knew at these appointments there was often a large amount of uninterrupted time scheduled in that I could use for building my own spirituality. So, although I can be impatient, I also very much appreciate putting time into studying and learning as much as possible about something, especially if I have to teach it to others.
There are things that I am inspired to share with Torah for Women, yet it takes days, weeks or even months to discover and assemble everything that can be found on the topic. I may want to sit and write a post right away but there are things that need to be confirmed through The Word so that when we are challenged we can provide resources and scriptural evidence to back up what we have taught. We just can’t get away with “Because it sounds right” or “but it feels right” when it comes to teaching others. The warnings are very clear in scripture what the responsibility is upon the heads of those who take on the role of teaching others. (James 3:1)
Often times we need more time to explain properly, doing all we can to avoid error, and 3 minutes or less will not work. There have been many times we have seen others jump up with memes they grabbed from someone else, or one little verse taken out of context that was used to develop an entire doctrine around. These unverified teachings can end up being spiritually dangerous if others are lead away from Yahweh’s truth, or His truth is distorted. Even worse is if these sound bites people teach bring someone to sin.
Having come out from another religious system, you may find that there are teachings you need to un-learn, doctrines you need to prove or disprove to yourself, new teachings that you need to discover that were never taught. The desire to learn everything instantly can sometimes be very strong, and this can encourage us to desire “sound bites" of information. Yet it is very important to take your time and study things out to prove them with Scripture. This will take more time than just a few minute sound bites.
Busy women may find fault with what I am saying, by stating that they only have a few minutes here or there to read and we understand this, very much. What we are saying is, don’t let that be the ONLY time you spend studying a topic. Expand, stretch, dig, study, all while using the scriptures, reliable resources, and even the good old fashioned library if you need to. You will likely find, as we introduce more and more teachings online for you to build your faith, that many of our teachings may be short messages, yet each one will be a jumping off point to encourage or guide you into a much longer study to strengthen your walk with Yahweh.
Having a strong foundation in the scriptures, and following Yahweh’s teachings will help write the word on our hearts and in our minds, which will help us when the temptation arises to avoid using our words idly. We will have access to great wisdom and knowledge that will be embedded in our memory for us to recall as needed.
The scriptures teach, Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This same exact counsel is mentioned at least 3 times in the Tanakh and one thing is certain, it must be important. I find it interesting that this is used to get a point across, as is done many times in scripture. One topic is covered repeatedly so that we can grasp the concept. You see, it is an interesting tidbit to find that it was common practice for ancient Hebrews to not raise their voice in making a point as we often do these days - in other words, no CAPS LOCK. Instead, they would keep repeating the teaching so that it was clear and its importance was made known.
The question is, what is meant by “fear of Yahweh?” The fear mentioned is not a frightful fear as one might be afraid of a bear in the wilderness, but a respect or reverence. Restating this verse would mean that respect of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. We can get a very basic level of respect and wisdom by grabbing those sound bites I mentioned above. Yet how much more wisdom and knowledge would we all grab and hold onto if we spent more time listening to and studying teachings that we need to have written on our hearts and in our minds? Maybe even hearing them over and over again until we glean all we can from that teaching.
Let me use an example that might help make it more clear. You buy a new cell phone. Besides the phone, you get a cord and a couple of other accessories with it, and then you find that great piece of paper that everyone looks for, that's almost always right on top called “The Quick Start Guide”. It is one page long, and with it you can immediately figure out how to charge and use your phone. BANG! YOU'RE Done. . . .Right? Then your 10 year old says, “Hey, mom, did you know that with your phone you can...?” What is your response? Mine might actually be, “What???” Or worse, “No, it doesn’t!” as someone much younger than me proceeds to show me that my phone not only does that one thing, but also will do a thousand other things that I never knew a phone was capable of doing.
Now, how could I have found this information out? One, I could utilize this new teacher that has agreed to show me every little tiny thing that my phone can do; or number two, I could just read the other book inside that has 200 tiny little pages called the "Owners Manual". Either way, it is definitely going to take me more than that 3 minute sound bite, aka: " The Quick Start Guide" to get the full potential out of my phone.
Personally, I would do both simply because I have had a couple of young people show me things to do with my electronics that in the end would have actually voided the warranty on my product! So, I needed to be careful to look up and verify what these young teachers are teaching me about my phone - a great example of how it is YOUR responsibility also to test every word that springs forth from teachers, or meme's, videos, "revelations,” and especially from sound bites.
It's your responsibility to take more than 3 minutes of your time to understand fully and search out the full truth before you adopt it and follow it in your life. Don't be lazy when it comes to things that may have eternal consequences.
I hope this will help you see more clearly that if you cannot learn all the ins-and-outs of your new cell phone in a few minutes or less, how can you expect to learn all the ins-and-outs of your faith, His love, His teachings in sound bites?
Will you take the time to study and reverence (fear) the lord so that you will be filled with the wisdom and knowledge that Yahweh has freely given you in His word? Read it, search it, study it, confirm it and adopt the truth.
Our prayer is that some how, some way, you will find the time and have that reverence for His word so that you will not be amongst those who only feed on 3 minutes or less of the word.
"It is written, people shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God". Matthew 4:4
If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. Mark 3:24-25
In these words of wisdom, Yeshua can easily demonstrate to us what we are capable of doing in a body of believers and in Yahweh’s house.
Torah for Women gets a lot of negative feedback from certain people because of some of the blog posts or comments that are written on TorahForWomen.com and the social media profile page. Sadly, every single one of those conflicts comes from someone who has left a Christian church in the past 5-8 years and has now vowed that all Christians are heathens that lost in their “pagan, fake church” as they label it.
Often times, these people who proclaim they follow Yeshua, will also imply that all Christians are beyond saving because of their unwillingness to see "the evil ways" of the denomination they continue follow.
Seriously. . .is that what you believe? Have you taken a moment to think to yourself, “Where did I just come out from and how long has it been since I crossed over to the Torah Movement?” I would also encourage you to ask, why did you decide to leave what you once thought was "the truth", and now here you are following a Torah observant life? Why? What made you decide?
Take a few minutes and seriously look at your reasons. I have seen countless people declare they have been called out to help repair the breech, build up the kingdom of Yahweh, but how can you go around claiming that is your calling when you continue to have such lack of compassion and kindness toward your fellow believers? And YES, they are believers. They believe in Abba (the father), in Messiah (Yeshua, as their Savior or as many call him, Jesus), and they believe in the Ruach HaChodesh (The Holy Spirit). Is there more for them to learn? Yes, of course, but there is also more for you to learn. I can testify to this because I have not yet learned all that Yahweh has to teach me, either.
You cannot Condemn Christians, Messianics, Jews, or any faithful follower of Yeshua by saying that there is no teaching them, no hope for them, that they will never be saved, and you are giving up on them. What of Paul? Look at his life - participating in the murder of a disciple, tormenting Yeshua’s followers, lost in his pharisaic traditions, yet HE was able to be saved. Yes, it took a vision on the road to Damascus. Yet, he was reachable, wasn’t he? Now ask yourself, have you become the OLD Paul, the persecutor, or the RENEWED Apostle Paul who taught the truth to the churches??? Which do you want to be?
Most will say that the reason they started to question their previous denomination was because something felt wrong, doctrines seemed skewed, and they may have recognized that some traditions seemed against the bible’s teachings, such as ignoring His feast days. How long were you there in that denomination, though? Were you raised in it? Was it an adult decision to join that church? Did you enter it through marriage, or maybe some other reason. Were you in your denomination for years, or were you a church jumper, jumping from church to church searching for truth. What I would like for you to recognize is that Yahweh was able to touch YOUR heart regardless of your circumstance, so why can’t he touch the hearts of those you left behind? If Yahweh afforded you understanding, grace and forgiveness, isn’t it likely that he could afford your former friends, former church members or relatives that same love?
Please do not mistake my conversation for condemnation - that is not what I am expressing. I am concerned that as we go through this journey there will continue to be some that will make the divide bigger by the unwillingness to change their stern thinking & closed minds. Too many may continue in their unwillingness to allow Yahweh to soften their own hearts, so that they can be used to lovingly reach out to those who are stuck in vague or false traditions.
The condemnation, and persecution needs to stop - it is like an earthquake that is shaking the foundation of a great and powerful building, and that shaking is making the fault line open and the DIVIDE grow bigger. At some point you run the risk of making that divide becoming so wide that people who want to cross over will be blocked by the gap you created.
A person who believes they were called to bridge the gap, in order to help people, the person who proclaims they are a Torah Observant follower, needs to examine their heart, their motive and how they approach and treat people.
Instead of going down that road of persecution, of hate, and condemnation, why not ask yourself, honestly, “How can I best touch the hearts of others and how can I reach them, or teach them?
If I continue to yell condemnation at them and accuse them of not knowing who the real Messiah is, will I touch their hearts or build up a wall of bitterness?
Then also ask Yahweh, “Please, Abba, guide me and direct me how to teach others so that you may soften their hearts and fill their minds with your great truths.” Pray this while remembering that you, too, were once in that “heathen” place you now so loudly condemn.
Blessings and Shalom. . . .
Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice.”
The other day on Facebook, we talked about the root of bitterness and the small fibers or side roots that can trigger new growth of the old root. Someone asked, what exactly is the bitterness spoken of in the scriptures and how do you pluck it out?
The word in both verses we used, Hebrews 12:15 and Ephesians 4:31, is the word “pikrias πικρίας" Strong's 4088, which means an "embittered spirit”. What does it mean to be embittered? It means to be “soured, envenomed; to make pungent (flavor)”. This would mean, putting it into perspective, your spirit would be filled with venom, sourness, acidity, and be pungent or putrid. These are not the only references, either, to bitterness inside us. In Deuteronomy 29:18, Moses refers to “lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood;” The gall mentioned is like venom, and is a bitter, poisonous herb, while the wormwood is a plant that can cause seizures and death by kidney failure. None of these examples sound in any way like being filled with the Holy Spirit, do they?
So to purge ourselves of the root of bitterness, we need to replace that venomous, sour, putrid spirit with HIS Spirit! How do we do that for ourselves? Let's Explore this:
After reading Part 1 of this teaching, you may have recognized by now that I enjoy my garden and all the natural creations of Yahweh’s. I find so many lessons in his creations. So returning to the garden example, you can choke out those little left behind roots by planting the RIGHT seeds! If you plant low-growing seeds, they will create a “carpet” that can blanket the ground which may prevent the root from getting the right amount of sunshine. You can plant another layer of plants that grow a bit taller than that ground cover, and these will grow deeper roots than the low growing plant. Then plant a third layer, that grows bigger and taller than the mid-range plant. NOW, you have plenty of good roots, taking up the nutrients from the soil and the new plants will need the water the weed-root used to thrive. You have ground cover that is shading the weed roots from the warmth of the sun. All of these will deprive the bad weed of what it needs to survive and grow.
What are these good seeds and plants we are planting that will deprive the weeds bitter root?
- READ READ READ! And Study, Study, Study!!! Get that word of Yahweh in you, so that you can call upon verses for strength when you need them. Luke 8:11 “. . .The seed is the word of God.” The Parable explains how some seed fell on the road, the rock, amongst thorns, and some on good ground. We want our hearts to be the GOOD ground. So we want that seed, that word in us. When it is in us, we can call upon his counsel and promises anytime we need it for strength and even for correction.
- Do good for those who persecute you - the toughest “good” is often those good works for the person “attached” to that bitter root. Galatians 6:9 says, though, “Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.”
I once volunteered to take a meal to someone who had hurt me and my children horribly with rumors, gossip, and back-biting. Their family was very ill with various stages of flu and bronchitis. No one was helping them, so I volunteered - and I made the kids go with me to deliver the food. It was one of the most difficult things for me to do, but it helped me realize that I CAN be kind to someone and still love them as well as forgive them, yet not let them back into my life for further hurt. We did not become friends, nothing I did stopped what was going on, but I changed inside, my children changed inside. Over time we lost touch and who knows what seeds we planted in them, but I DO KNOW the seeds that were planted in me.
A word of caution here: There are some people for whom you just cannot do some physical act for, and this Yahweh understands. Either the conflict between you two will put you or someone else in harms way, or could cause legal problems. Maybe it would harm your family or children. For those rare, extreme situations, the only thing you can do for them is the next thing on the list: PRAYER.
- Pray - for them and yourself. For them - there have been those times when the other person is unwilling to accept your efforts of kindness and it has become difficult or even volatile. Open your own heart in prayer to Yahweh. Ask forgiveness for anything that you may have contributed to the situation. Then pray for all good changes to take place in that person's heart. Pray for shalom, softening, even direction for yourself. Communicate with Yahweh, but whatever you do, don’t pour fertilizer on that bitter root by believing that you are justified for holding a grudge or wishing vengeance. That will not help the bitter root to be plucked, only to be fed and grow stronger.
- Allow the Spirit to change your heart. Give in to the rebuke, correction, and influence of the Ruach, so that your heart will be opened to what it needs. True forgiveness of another will allow this change to take place in your heart. John 16:8 “When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment;” Allow this in you, and let it go.
- Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:29-30 warns us, “Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” It is very plain to see that the root of bitterness and the speech which comes out of our mouth can “grieve” the holy spirit. Guard your tongue and protect yourself from gossiping or fueling the situation with negativity so that you do not grieve the Holy Spirit. This grief mentioned is one that is deeply felt, a sorrow, distress, heaviness that can be brought to the Holy Spirit by our unwillingness to cleanse ourselves through the processes mentioned.
Galatians 6:8-10 "For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith."
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work."
Remember that you can only change what is in YOUR heart, BUT Yahweh can change what is in their heart. Don’t make yourself a doormat, but don’t hold onto the anger, vengeful feelings, don’t rehash over and over what they did to you - in your mind or in gossip. Be extra careful not to talk about them. This may be very difficult, but you need to purge those behaviours and feelings from you through Yahweh and the Holy Spirit so that your heart is soft and pure.
One more word of advice is to avoid conversations with people who are negative and want to bring up your past hurt, anger and bitterness. They stoke the fire within you and make you recall all the feelings you're trying to remove out of your heart. Tell the person that you're trying to get over what happened and get all the bad feelings out of you. Ask them to respect what your're trying to do. This may be a witness and example for them. If they refuse to respect what your're wishes, then you may have to cut back or cut off the time you spend with them.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”
Not long ago on Shabbat we listened to an amazing lesson taught on faith and the things that stand in the way of building our faith. During the teaching something truly struck me as being a major stumbling block for some, and I felt it important to share with Torah for Women.
Hebrews 12:15 looking carefully lest there be any man who falls short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and many be defiled by it;
“Any root of bitterness”. This reminded me of that horrible weed in your garden. You know the one - you think you got all the root, but all it takes is the tiniest little piece left behind, a little rain, some sunshine and POP! There it is - another brand new weed trying to take over the garden by choking out all the good plants. Just a little root and the right conditions and it becomes invasive, toxic, strangling. The sad thing, too, is that it seems to grow much hardier and much faster than anything else in the garden does. If we don’t pull it out quickly, when it is first noticeable, then it will have the time to grow too many side roots to get them all. Then more roots will sprout new weeds, creating a vicious cycle. Better to pluck it up quickly when it is small, before it has time to develop a bigger root system.
Now apply that to the feeling of bitterness:
Everyone at some point in life has a conflict with another person and sometimes we believe that we have fully forgiven them. Yet there can be a twinge of bitterness leftover, hidden deep inside, like those small roots. It lurks there until something happens to create the right conditions and then it creeps into our hearts. This often happens when we either have contact with that person again or when a similar situation to the one that hurt us pops up in our lives. It is that last little piece of leftover root just waiting for the right fertilizer and amount of rain to come along so that it can spring up and grow again. This is the root of bitterness.
If we aren’t careful to pluck it out immediately, too, just like the new weed in the garden, it will grow quickly and very hardy, making it difficult to move forward in forgiveness, in developing faith, or in other spiritual matters that we have been working on. It is important that we learn to recognize these roots quickly so that as warned in Hebrews, “many” are not defiled by our bitterness.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 WEB
Blessings and Shalom!
(This post was originally published on Torah For Women Facebook page, December 9, 2016)
Yahweh has a way of bringing things to my attention that I need to either study deeply or that I need to help others see or pay attention to. I may hear something a thousand times and it be of no effect, then one day it will strike me in a way that gives me pause. This has been that kind of week where it has happened several times. I would hear a quick mention of something by a source, then suddenly that phrase would appear “everywhere” around me. It wasn’t just one topic, either, it happened with multiple topics, and in multiple areas, by multiples sources. By weeks end, I was shocked how many different “new things” Yahweh had drawn to my attention. I made a list, and decided over time I might like to address each one, starting what Yahweh felt was most urgent.
Two things kept coming to mind from the list whenever I looked at it, but I wanted to make certain that they weren’t my personal feelings getting in my way. I set the list aside for a couple of days, and then felt I could pray over them on Shabbat. Shabbat morning, I felt prompted to start with one of the two, and decided to just let the words flow. So, here we are, discussing whether or not a “young ministry” is qualified to teach the Torah and if they are capable of speaking “truth” to the Body of the Assembly.
Are young ministries qualified?
I have a feeling there are some reading this right now who are trying to figure out what exactly I am talking about - “young” ministry? Let me take a moment to share with you what I have heard. There are ministries, groups, and people teaching that if a ministry is “young”, they are not “qualified” to preach, teach, or minister in the kingdom until or unless they have “enough experience”.
There are several things which don’t make sense about this thought pattern. First and foremost, what is meant by a “young” ministry? There are a lot of qualifiers that could make a ministry appear “young”, so just how should we judge a ministry’s “age"? Is it decided by the ministry’s “ability” to preach and teach about the Word? How do we judge their “ability”? Is there a standard set forth? Maybe a check list of abilities or qualifications that we can all run through so that we can ensure a ministry is aged properly? Kind of like a good cheese. . . Is aging based on time in ministry? Or, is it time in only the Hebrew roots ministry? Or time spent studying the Bible? Maybe time studying the Near East, just Israel, or the Hebrew language? Degree in Divinity? Theology? Philosophy? What level degree - bachelors, masters, doctorate? From which college or Yeshiva? Maybe some colleges qualify but others don’t, but who decides which ones do? Or is the age of a ministry determined by whether they have been in it longer than this minister or that ministry? And what team of experts make all these decisions for the Body of Yesua? When someone coined the phrase “Age is relative”, it seems that this might be a perfect example of what they were talking about.
It would be extremely difficult for someone to determine the age of ANY ministry based on all these variables and these are just a FEW of the ones I had written down when preparing for this article. Where did I get these ingredients? From comments, articles, and remarks made by ministries and individuals who feel that THEY self-qualify for having “enough experience”. The list could be amazingly much longer, probably totaling more than 100 questions on the check list if I set my mind to it.
Torah For Women could easily be judged as one of these “young ministries”, if you just judge by the date our social media sites were created, or if going by when our most recent copyright date was added to our websites. Does that mean that is the time period when Yahweh inspired us to begin a women’s ministry focused on teachings for women? Wouldn’t you need additional information to make that judgment before discounting a ministry for their experience or to decide whether they are established enough to teach, preach or minister? Invariably this is where someone may ask, well, how “old” are you? That is not the issue of this article, not in the least. The issue of this article is, essentially, how do we ("we" meaning any of us in the body) judge a ministry’s ability based on what we perceive as their “age” in comparison to some mark we, as an individual, have established as the measuring stick? We can’t.
Let’s take a look at a couple of ministries that might be considered “young”:
Are you aware of what is happening in the Southern United States right now? Revival, POWERFUL revival. In WV alone, over a period of several months, thousands of people have come to know Yeshua in just a few counties. Do you know who started this movement? Yahweh did it through YOUNG PEOPLE, teenagers and young adults - the spirit worked on their hearts and they preached in the schools and at outdoor revival meetings, had baptisms, and brought many to know Yeshua. You can’t get much younger in ministry than someone who is 16/17 years old preaching the Word to his or her friends for the very first time. These young preachers are telling it like it is - the scriptures as they are written, without compromise, with the spirit and power of Yahweh. And their friends are listening! States like West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina are moving in the Spirit and people are returning to faith.
Who would like to be the first to tell these “children” they are “too young” to follow the inspiration placed in their hearts or too young to act on behalf of Yahweh? Would you like to be the one to tell them they are “too young” to preach, teach, and bring people to Yeshua? Are you going to be the one to step up and put a halt to the move of Yahweh, because these young people don’t measure up according to the standards of your measuring stick? If you have the arrogance to say yes, then you need to take a serious look at the condition of your heart.
Two of the youngest ministries I can think of come right from the Bible. Think for a moment about the apostles. They were very “young” in ministry, about as young as, or younger than any of the ministries I have witnessed this week being criticized for their “age”. These men (apostles), in their “young” ministries built the church with the limited teaching, training, and experience they had gotten from and with Yeshua.
Would anyone in the body seriously walk up to the apostles and say, “You are too young for me to take seriously. Let me wait until you have been around awhile, then perhaps I will listen to your teachings."
Yet people with doctoral degrees in theology, groups with “years of experience” will look down on ministries with the same months of training or more as the disciples, and call them too “young” to teach the Word correctly, or to teach with the Spirit.
Seriously, we need to look to the word for what is too young. The scriptures tell us:
Luke 10:21 “In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to little children.” These children could be taken literally as meaning small children, or “children in the gospel” as the apostles were. Either way, they would be “young” in ministry, yet Yeshua praises Yahweh for delivering His messages to these young ones. Do you know why? because these “little children” had ears ready to hear, hearts ready to receive and most of all were teachable. Yet, the arrogant who believe their experience and wisdom is far superior will always remain un-teachable.
When the prophet Jeremiah was called to ministry he at first resisted the call because he said: “Ah, Lord Yahweh! Behold, I don’t know how to speak for I am a child. But Yahweh said to me, ‘Don’t say I am a child; for to whoever I shall send you, you shall go, and whatever I shall command you, you shall speak.” (Jeremiah 1:6-7)
Acts 2:17 (also Joel 2:28) describes “young men” who will see visions in the end times.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, (italics added for emphasis) and your old men shall dream dreams:” Again young ministers will be called forth to serve Yahweh.
What about the story of a 12 year old child being found in the temple with the elders talking, questioning, and answering questions?
Luke 2: 45-49 “When they didn't find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for him. It happened after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When they saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you." He said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I must be in my Father's house?" This same child went on to teach and preach to thousands just a short time after he had been baptized. Seems like one of the youngest ministries we can pull right from the Word.
Everyone knows of whom I am speaking, because this young 12 year old was Yeshua. But, if we all went back to ancient Israel would we discount the “young” ministry of Yeshua which he started right after his baptism? Would you say “Your ministry is too young to be taken seriously”? If so, then you would have missed out on the greatest move of Yahweh in the scriptures and would have missed the opportunity to be a personal disciple of the Messiah himself, while he walked on the earth.
These are just a couple of examples of “young ministries” in the scriptures, but the people accepted them. Its not the age of the ministry or the age of the person ministering that is the qualifier, because “young” is not an obstacle with Yahweh nor is it a hindrance in his work. All that matters is if Yahweh is working through that person and ministry, and that they are teaching the truth.
Paul even instructed Timothy to do the following: “Let no one despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:12-13)
I believe judging a ministry, or minister because it or he/she is not “old enough” rather than on whether or not they are teaching truth is a precarious position.
Now I am not saying that everyone can just jump out and proclaim themselves to be a teacher, because I do believe people need a good foundation of instruction and the call of Yahweh on their life, but if a person has a solid foundation of instruction and mentoring under their belt and a legitimate call to teach, then no one should despise their youth or the newness of their ministry.
What we need to judge is the soundness of their teaching (Titus 2:7-8) and the fruit of their works (Matthew 7:15-27).
“Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
Youth and newness of a ministry is not a factor in the legitimacy of a ministry. Therefore, to all the youth who are inspired to share the gospel with their friends, we encourage you to first study the Gospel message, then share the message with zeal and wisdom and let no one despise your youth. For those of you who come across a new Torah based ministry, please don’t despise their newness, but judge them by their message and the spiritual fruit in their lives.
Blessings and Shalom!
Guilty as charged. I have done it. Said something or posted something that I believed was correct only to find out later that it was either distorted or completely wrong. I have learned. There is much more to learning The Word than just reading a few articles here or there or studying the newest translation of the Bible and running with the words written there. One good example of this is a new version of the Bible that includes questionable additions to The Word that border on or are heresy. Is this what we want for ourselves or our families - to be teaching from false teachings or urban legends? Or do we want to be sharing the truth?
I remember a few years ago watching this woman speak about her journey into being more Torah observant and following Yahweh's Feast Days. I laughed out loud when she said, “At some point you will find that you see EVERYTHING as being pagan,” and she went on to explain that you will find yourself saying to people “I can’t do that - IT’S PAGAN!!” I laughed at how she calmly said the first part, but then distorted her face and almost yelled, “IT’S PAGAN!” Then one day it happened - I heard myself saying it to someone I have known for years. I almost choked on my own words as they just rolled off my tongue. I knew at that moment that I needed to take a step back and truly look at my new beliefs.
Most of us have come from some other organized religion and have had to undo, forget, or clear our minds of dogmas, doctrines, or baggage so that our thoughts are not tainted by what we have been indoctrinated with for years or even decades. These false teachings must be put aside to make room for truth and old teachings from ancient writings that we may have never fully understood before. It’s a careful balance between saving what we learned that was truth and what we need to relearn or unlearn is truth. Yet often times we jump on board a social media bandwagon that includes the newest and latest creative meme without even questioning the truthfulness behind the creation.
It seems in our desire to be “right” and Torah observant, we get over zealous sometimes, especially with certain topics, and forget that we are carrying His message to His people, so we better get that message right.
For some time now I have been writing in Prayer Book #2 and keeping track of the things Yahweh would have me write down. It contains records of dreams I have had, inspirations, impressions, blessings and guidance. Everywhere He is a part of my day I try to record so that I can look back and see the role Yahweh plays in my personal life and in ministry.
It has been a great blessing to also listen to the Spirit pressing me for the last month to go through my Book #1 and take a tally of all that has transpired. What an awesome spiritual experience I have had this past year and a half and most of the times I did not even realize what was going on.
Dreams - there were dreams and visions I wrote down that were explanations of things that were about to happen in life, whether personal or ministry. At the time, I did not quite understand the scenes that played out but recorded the dreams anyway. Then, as time went on, I was able to connect and record those events that ended up being the scenes that played out in dreams - often times it was a forewarning of someone who was going to do something negative, yet each dream contained a positive to counter act that person’s attempts.
I recall one vision in particular that had my husband and I running through a thick jungle, fighting back vines, trees, bushes, shrubbery, everything was in our way. We didn’t have any tools to cut through it, and we were fighting every bit of the way. Suddenly Yeshua appeared in front of us, and it was as if he had a huge machete, yet there was nothing in his hands. As he went before us, everything fell in his path. Every vine, every branch, every bush or plant moved out of his way and left a clear and open path for us. Nothing was in our way, nothing was stopping us, or trying to prevent us from going forward on the path He was laying out before us. And Yeshua was clearing that path. As I look back now over the past year or so, I see how, so many times, the pathway has been wiped clear ahead of us in ways we never could have done on our own. People moved, hearts changed, miracles happening, all through our prayer, and dedication to the path He said to stay on.
There are prophetic moments I recorded which my husband stated or I was impressed to record - which completely came true in our own lives.
My favorite part, though, is where He has told me over and over again my importance as a daughter of Yahweh. His encouragement, compliments (not in an egotistical way, but in an uplifting way), and how HE sees me. Things I know I could not have come up with on my own. He has given me information to lead me in teaching, to strengthen me in trials, direction in ministry. I find times when I was aching and He lifted me higher than I could have imagined. The best part is that each thing in the book lines up with The Word, there are no conflicts with his word. I test every impression, every dream or every prophecy against the written words of Yahweh.
Just so you know, there are rebukes and corrections, too. When I didn’t handle something right, or needed to refine something in myself. I recorded those things, too, even though I didn’t want to. There were times along the way when I balked at the idea of continuing in writing everything down, but as I look back at the record He has had me keep I have come to appreciate how far I have come, how far I still may need to go, and how much Yahweh has carried me through.
Thank you, Yahweh, for everything.
Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (also Deut 5:7)
Each of us has come a long way on our journey through man-made doctrines until we reach the pure Word of Yahweh. Along the way, we could claim various denominations as our spiritual “home”, albeit a temporary one. One common thread I see is that not long ago, 3-10 years ago, a movement was afoot. Many of the women I speak with regularly left the “comfort of their customs and religion” to forge a new road for themselves, their families, and friends. Along the way, as far as people go, they have lost some and gained some. I am no different in my search for Truth - family and friends have come and gone.
At one point in my life, I was Catholic. Having gone through their classes and ceremonies, I became a full member in “good standing” at the parish closest to my home. I loved the people. They gave me the community, acceptance, and love I had been searching for. There were gatherings, and festivals, prayer meetings, and even the need for a women’s auxiliary. With writings going all the way back to the times of the apostles, church history provided me with the historical background I was seeking in a church.
I learned the prayers to recite and even memorized the Rosary. I had several sets of beads to use and prayed it often in the beginning because I was under a lot of stress at the time. I found that, when I prayed, it brought me comfort and calm that I felt I wasn’t finding any other way. Although for decades I had been praying directly to the Father, I felt some kind of comfort believing that the rosary prayers were “interceding” for me. Almost as though praying for “intercession” gave you that extra power boost you needed to get the desired answer to prayers.
As time went on, I discovered the more I prayed, the more “it” brought me peace, comfort, direction, answers to prayers, even healing. Everything I asked of God he delivered and, oddly, I still continued to believe it was because of my rosary prayers.
Until one day I noticed I would get a few words into the rosary “prayer," suddenly stop saying the repetitive words, then pray directly to The Father. This was just as I had done for so many decades before. I realized how all those blessings and every prayer answered was not from the intercession of some string of beads or a methodical prayer to someone else. I had been giving power to an idol (the Rosary) in the beginning. Over time, though, my spirit recognized that I needed to break free from that idolatry and pray, speak, praise, and ask Yahweh directly. Without my knowing it, I had escaped man-made religion and slipped right into what was right and true - A relationship with Yahweh. I was praying to Abba, and he was blessing me.
Knowing this story about my past, it seems strange that I now get condemned by people who are doing the same thing I once did, using different objects of idolatry. Over the last several years, I have seen both men and women give a similar power to “things” they own, just as I had done with the rosary beads. Like them, I initially believed it was my praying through that string of beads that gave me healing, strength to fight, ability to overcome, personal comfort, just as they believe it is in their particular “item” that they have power. I have witnessed people make the same kinds of claims about healing, comfort, and power that I once made about the rosary prayer. However, their idol is not a set of beads, but instead, their idol is a head-covering, a tallit, a kippah, or even a pile of balanced rocks.
No matter what your item (idol) is, you need to learn that the power is not in that physical thing. In fact, the power given to an item only lies in the mind of the one worshipping the item. The key that we have to learn is that the power of Yahweh lies with Yahweh, and not in some object we turn into some idol.
Now, before you deny you worship idols, ask yourself if you could live days, weeks, or months without that object. If you find an attachment to that object and believe your life will not be the same without your head-covering, kippah, tallit, or another item, you are attributing power to that item. You are caught up in a form of idolatry.
Sometimes it doesn’t appear we take this issue personally enough. We ignore the obvious and we may even think we can’t “have” some of the promises from Yahweh unless we earn them. For whatever reason, inside our heads, we believe we are supposed to suffer, be anxious, wear an object or perform some man-made ritual, to get answers. Yet Yahweh has told us many times that those things are not of him. In the scriptures, we witness Yeshua’s miracles and the power of Yahweh at work throughout every event. We marvel at His amazing acts portrayed right before our eyes. We know that Yeshua promised we would do greater works than what he did. Yet people seem to be unable to fully believe in these things and they are unable to put their full stock in the promises from Yahweh. People find it easier to believe that a Tallit, a kippah or a head covering will bring more comfort and blessing than Yahweh will, while at the same time claiming Yahweh used that fabric or that item to bring them blessings. It’s like people need an earthly object they can touch and see in order to fool themselves into believing they are connecting with Yahweh.
In our book, “The Headcovering Dilemma - SOLVED!” we address this topic of idol worship with some questions you can ask yourself to help clarify and understand if you have placed an item before, in front of, or even in the way of Yahweh, therefore making it an idol in your life. These questions can be used by both men and women to help in understanding their relationship with Abba.
There are scriptures listed to guide and direct you as well. I recommend each person pray so that your relationship with Yahweh will be what it is meant to be, and then read the book. Take the time to do a self-checkup on idol worship. Before writing this message, I took the "check-up." It helped point out a few things to me that I don’t worship, but that I was at risk of elevating to a position they don’t deserve. It was a good personal examination, and I pray you will give that time to yourself as well. Don’t get caught up in idol worship and especially don’t do that idol worship in His name.
May you be blessed.
Isaiah 42:8 KJV “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
Judges 10:14WEB “Go and cry to the gods which you have chosen. Let them save you in the time of your distress!”
Do I honestly know that this is lesson number 757,243? No, of course not, but some days I honestly feel that Yahweh has truly had to work hard at showing me certain things - and patience in trial is one that I struggle with sometimes - or rather impatience in trials!
I have noticed that when things are going great it is easy to point out to myself and to others that Yahweh is good, He is with us, he is guiding everything. When things are a struggle, or someone comes along and tries to throw an obstacle up, that is when He has told me I am whining!!! He has also warned me of my demanding nature in trials, and my why, why, why. . . .
I don’t find myself asking “Why don’t you do this for me?” Or “Why did you do that to me??” I don’t find myself blaming Him at all, but what I DO find myself doing if a challenge is going a little bit longer than what I think it should be going, I can find myself asking “Yahweh, I know you have got this but why aren’t I seeing the end result already? Seems to me this struggle has been long enough. It sure looks like everything is in place for it to work right, so where is my end result??? HMMM????”
But if I would just stop - for five minutes or maybe ten, just long enough to listen to Him I might actually HEAR Him. When I do that, when I pay attention to the Spirit telling me to “Be still! And know that He is the great I Am!” If I relax, I find the truth - there are often instructions that He has been giving me that I didn’t do, or people I needed to talk to that I had forgotten to talk to. Each of these little details may be something that needs to be in place before the end result produces what He wants it to produce. That end result is always much more than I anticipated or expected. It gives me the opportunity to realize and learn that I need to remember to do my part, too, all of my part as He instructed.
It is a wonderful feeling when you help Him put all the pieces in place by doing your part, by being obedient, and then, after the end result, you can look back and say, ‘WOW!” His hand was literally in every single detail, including me. I have seen this happen so many times in our lives and in the ministry. Yahweh will reveal to us a choice that we need to make, but to accomplish that choice, it is going to take a lot of little pieces to be put in place. I have watched Yahweh change a hardened heart in another person and turn a situation completely around for our benefit. I have witnessed a difficult person pulled from our lives because they were standing in the way of what Yahweh wanted to happen for us, and a new person filled with his love and Spirit placed right at our door.
When we sit back, and listen, when we are quiet, there is so much more that can be done and accomplished, so many more lives touched, so much in our own hearts changed for the better when we cooperate with leading and yield to the work of the Master.
The other day in prayer, while pleading with Yahweh for the concerns of the sisters in Torah, an inspiration for an article came to me to share with you:
Close your eyes for a moment and picture a HUGE sports stadium packed to the brim with people. There is not an empty seat anywhere to be found. You are walking in with all those people seated and waiting for you to walk up to a podium in the middle of the stadium where there is a remote control and a microphone. You pick up the remote and start showing the entire audience pictures of your children, extended family, every vacation you have ever gone on right on the Jumbo screen. While you flip through the photographs, you make sure that you tell them every little detail about your event and life in general:
- where you live, the colour of your house, and your pets
- your children’s names, ages, where they live if not at home, where they go to school, who their friends are
- include where you go shopping and when
- Where you work, what days and times, and where you go to lunch during work
- Show them your spouses name, where he or she works, and everything you love or hate about them
- Oh, and please remember to tell them when you are leaving for your next vacation and how long you will be gone.
You might be saying to yourself, “That is ridiculous. I would never give all that information to perfect strangers!” Yet many do it every single day - but you don’t call them strangers, you call them “friends”. Perusing social media and looking at other’s accounts, sometimes you can see people who have thousands of “friends” who have access to their very personal data. This is not just public figures who have this high number, but many average people have large numbers as well. Yet, do you really know who you are sharing your personal information with?
Let me go back to the original example - An average sports stadium holds 70,000 people. In 2001, there were over 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States of America, and over 1/4 of them were reported “missing”. Today, according to statistics the US could have more than 750,000 registered sex offenders. Add to that the annual rate of approx. 300,000 rapes that have no convictions, the number of predators in that stadium just doubled. Doing the math using the percentages from 2001, there would be approx 210 registered sex offenders in that stadium, along with approx. 90 non-convicted rapists. If you consider robberies and forced entry burglaries, out of the 70,000 people in that stadium, 650 of them will be robbed at some point in time. This could be translated to the reverse by saying that 650 people in that stadium are likely to be burglars of some type. This may seem like few people when compared to the 70,000 at the event, but so far that would mean that there is, at minimum, around 1000 potential violent criminals in that stadium and you just gave your information to all of them.
This is not said to instill fear in people’s minds, but to bring awareness to you of who you could be giving your personal information to. Often times we are no more familiar with the people we “meet” online than that group of people in the stadium, yet we are so free with very personal information that could be used to get even more personal information about us. We try to be friendly and nice, and often we do it in the hopes of teaching someone about Yahweh.
You may be asking right now what this has to do with Torah. Not long ago Torah For Women accepted a friend request from a fellow who proclaims to be a follower of Yahweh and Torah observant. Within a short time, this wolf in sheep’s clothing revealed his true self by implying something that was very anti-Torah, through a post about husbands and wives. We not only recognized his false teachings, and blatant self-promotion of what he called a ministry, but we also took the time to do some checking on this individual and discovered many more anti-Torah teachings that he shares with men and women in the Torah movement. We even discovered he had perused our writings, personal information, and public posts to discover our "mind-set", then made an attempt to use it "against us".
This individual was found to not only share anti-Torah teachings of others, but he also writes many of his own false teachings and is even willing to “personally advise” others on their relationships by giving his false interpretation of Torah as well. Sadly, the teachings this person advocates are not something we haven’t seen before and even more alarming we continue to see spread among Torah keepers and Christians. This teaching is anti-Torah, because it involves approving, promoting, and even encouraging the physical abuse of women. It is done to teach wives complete submission to their husband, and as these false teachers state it is often “necessary” to beat a woman so that the wife will properly understand her place in the marriage and home. This type of thinking is not only anti-Torah, but very dangerous and criminal.
This teaching spreading online goes on to claim that a man has the right to deny even basic comforts because they are privileges, and not rights. Things such as food, water, drink, personal care items, showers, even toilet tissue, could be “privileges” that a man can remove until the wife submits to the man of the house - whatever his submission requirements are at that time. Sadly, many men and women are following this teaching and are standing by these so called Torah teachers and adopting these methods of “disciplining wives”.
Yes, you read that right, there is a move among Torah followers that is teaching men to beat a woman into submission and deny them basic comforts as well, and both husbands and wives are following it and falling for it. Some men, we discovered, will even go so far as to make the wife’s life miserable by selling her car and buying her one that is less than what she had. This is done to show her that she must comply with his directions in keeping the home and raising the children. Not selling it for financial reasons as if it is a burden on them, but for punishment for not “taking care of the house properly”. It was also recommended on one fellow’s counseling site to “punish” or “discipline” the wife as you would a child by changing the password on the internet, cancel the television service, turn off her cell phone, and embarrassing her publicly until she “submits”. If these methods don’t work, then it is recommended to perform “harsher punishments as discipline”, such as beatings. These people (men and women) think this form of relationship and submission is biblical, but we outright call it unbiblical. These people claim the bible teaches men to be harsh masters of their home, but we 100% dispute this and call their teachings sinful.
Here is our biblical proof to refute these false teachers that promote spousal abuse.
Colossians 3:19 says “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them”. Is this method of forced compliance taught by these false teachers fulfilling this counsel to love your wives? NO!
Psalm 11:5 “Yahweh examines the righteous, but the wicked and him who loves violence his soul hates.” This teaching by these men that promote domestic violence is something Yahweh hates. Pretty clear to me.
Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it;. . .” Husbands - is beating your wife the way Yeshua loves his church, the assembly? No, he sacrificed himself for his church/assembly.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” These men need a lesson on true love.
1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered” Please, answer for yourself, ladies, do you want a husband to give you honor or to give you a relationship where you are forced into doing everything a man demands and if you refuse to obey get beaten? I hope you would always want better for yourself.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “Don't you know that you are a temple of God, and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for God's temple is holy, which you are.” God’s temple is holy, you are the temple of His spirit, should that temple be beaten, abused, misused, tortured, and demeaned? Any Torah keeping man should recognize this.
1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone doesn't provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” These men who think they have the right to hold back food, water, clothing or other things from their wives are not only in need of help themselves, but the scriptures call them WORSE than an UNBELIEVER.
Each home is different, each has its own dynamics, direction or flow. It is not our job here at Torah for Women or our responsibility to tell one couple or another how to run their home. It is our calling, though, to teach what the Torah teaches and this matter has been pointed out several times in recent weeks to us. We have even witnessed ourselves how this violent teaching is being shared amongst brothers and sisters, and it needs to END!! This is a great concern for us. Violence of any kind toward a wife is not biblical.
We don’t care what any wolf in sheep’s clothing is teaching online or in home groups. These false teachers might claim this criminal activity is approved by scriptures, but that’s a lie. These false teachers will encourage men and women to adopt their teachings and will even proclaim themselves Torah-keepers and “experts,” but we know enough about the scriptures to tell you their teachings are unbiblical, sinful and ungodly. Sisters, know that their are weirdo’s online pretending to be Torah keepers and biblical teachers. Don’t be so trusting of everyone you meet online!!!
Many of you sisters are single and are praying Yahweh bless you with a Torah observant spouse. Others are married sisters looking for places to fellowship with your husband and family. In either case, I want you to place yourself back at the stadium scene. In this stadium you’re allowing everyone and anyone to come along and know your deepest, most intimate details and learn enough about you to weedle their way in to your life. You’re allowing them to look into your relationships, your problems and the feelings your experiencing. These people might offer you comfort, console you, offer advice and attempt to win your trust. For the safety of your children, yourself, your family, please search your friends list, read what people post. Be skeptical before accepting random “friends”. I would also like to recommend as soon as possible, read through the timelines of these so called “friends” you barely know and read what they have been up to. You may find you need to make some changes and delete some people from what you thought was your sanctuary....(your personal Facebook page). If you love having all these friends then stop posting your personal business on your page. Talk scriptures, talk about world events, talk about generic topics and keep your personal business among your real friends and family by sending private messages.
Check them out, don’t be afraid to do it either. It is YOUR home they are coming into, through your computer, your phone, your tablet. Don’t forget people can download your photos, your kids photos and use them. People can scope out your possessions, and know enough about you to approach your kids and claim they are family and you sent them to pick them up.
You are the one who lets them in, or doesn’t. Be blessed, but also: BE WISE. and Be courageous.
2 Timothy 3:6-7 For some of these are people who creep into houses, and take captive gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
For some reason this feels like it should be simple to write and yet it has been one of the most challenging articles to get from my heart and head to my fingertips. I thought, “I can whip this out in a day!" Yet Yahweh has had different plans for the direction He wants these thoughts to go. As these two whole weeks that I have been struggling with this topic have gone by, I have found out that this problem runs deeper than I initially thought.
Now there are some who are going to say this is silly to bring up, but it is the deeper part that makes this entire topic far from silly and very valid. The scripture above, found in 2 Timothy 3, depending on the various translations, calls us women “vulnerable”, “gullible”, “silly”, “weak”, “captive”, “idle”, “foolish”, and . . . how about we stop there? It’s not very flattering. This is talking about days to come in the future from the time of the apostles. Times that we live in now. This is a time when women typify those words and give in to the people that creep into their homes through the internet, and women are being led away by various “lusts”, passions, desires, and impulses.
Now the key to this whole verse, though, is that the women who are lead astray and deceived appear to already be loaded down with sin. Yet it does not describe with what sin or sins they are weighed down. Often times women do not feel that this latter day warning applies to them because they are not “weighted down” with sin. Sure, each of us are battling with a sinful nature, but women believe they are not “weighted down” by any sin. It seems that the vision of being weighted down includes BIG sin - like total immorality, murder (abortion), lying, cheating, and stealing. Even these last three bring to mind images of BIG lies - like what politicians do daily, BIG cheating - like a major company deceiving the public with a skewed medical study, BIG stealing - like robbing a bank, but Yahweh does not distinguish between BIG and little. Sin is sin and in the end we will have to answer for all our choices. So, take a good look at your heart and mind, then ask yourself, “Am I weighed down with sin?”
Take a spiritual inventory of the things you might struggle with or be hanging on to. Past bitterness from a failed relationship, gossiping, unbelief, hypocrisy, head-strong, high-minded, speaking evil of something without proper evidence. These are just a few of the things we have talked with others about, and when confronted people quickly deny they do it or that their words and actions are sinful. Yet, this is their opinion and not God's.
We are not here to judge whether you are weighted down or not, we are here to only inform you that there is a pattern developing in the women in the Body of Messiah (Yeshua/Jesus) that is concerning, and can lead to dangerous spiritual travels down strange and winding roads. What you want to be seeking, though, is the straight and narrow pathway.
In this modern age, there really aren’t people physically “creeping” into our homes - we have locks on our doors, security systems, lights on out front and out back. We take pretty good precautions to keep our homes safe against physical intrusions. Yet without us realizing what is going on, people are creeping in - right in front of our faces. Through our computers, tablets, cell phones, televisions, and social media of every kind. Not just the daily entourage of unsavory stars and reality TV people, but even those who claim to be men and women of Yahweh are sneaking in. They enter with teachings that sound good and reliable, yet if we took the time to truly study things out and test them against The Word, we would find that there are a lot of flaws in what these people are "teaching".
Now, here is why this is important - and yes, I laughed when I first read the situation below, yet Yahweh has impressed upon me that what is happening is a fulfillment of 2 Tim 3:6. Women are making themselves look vulnerable, gullible, silly, weak, captive, idle and foolish by allowing people to creep into their lives and homes, leading them astray with all types of fables and strange doctrines.
Here is one example:
DiHydrogen Monoxide. Have you ever heard of this dangerous chemical before? I can promise you, beyond a doubt, that you have definitely heard about it. This chemical can irritate skin, increases corrosion of certain metals, is used as an industrial solvent, used in nuclear plants, it can cause explosive reactions when mixed with certain mineral compounds, contributes to erosion, is a major component in acid rain, and when inhaled, can even cause death. You use it daily, have it in your home, use it in your gardens, eat it in foods, and do so many other things with this “dangerous chemical composition”. Right about now you may be seriously getting nervous about having such a horrible product in your home. You might be asking yourself “Is this endangering my family?” Well, don’t worry because Dihydrogen Monoxide is only WATER. YES, I said it is plain old WATER.
Think about it for a moment “di” means 2, Hydrogen is H, MON is 1, Oxide is Oxygen. TWO hydrogen and ONE oxygen make up what? WATER, also known as H2O. BUT, when you put a chemical name to it it sounds very scary, doesn’t it? It sounds toxic, maybe even deadly? But it is not any of those things, it is simply water. YOU are made up of water, or at least a good part of you is. God made you and God made water.
More and more, there are memes floating around claiming that farmers are spraying it on our crops in an attempt to force us, unknowingly, to consume this hazardous chemical. It is used in our prepared foods, added to our drinks that we buy, etc., etc., etc. Someone has even been creative enough to dedicate an entire website to this “chemical compound” and has created a governmental HazMat sheet called an MSDS for this dangerous product. I have watched people fly off the handle and make statements such as “The maker of this needs to be stopped!!! Just like (that major chemical company)!!!” Which has me laughingly calling out, “But it’s just water people!!!”. You may even be surprised to learn that this rumor was "invented" by a 14 year old in 1997 to find out how gullible the public is.
With creative marketing, some pretty pictures, and just the right wording, someone has made a complete campaign out of it now to deceive people into spreading rumors and false teachings. He or she are probably laughing at all the gullible people believing this joke and passing it around from post to post. Why is this important at all? After all, water has nothing to do with our salvation, and it does sound silly that many are falling for this spoof. BUT if you are gullible enough to fall for something such as this, what other delusion will you allow to lead you astray into false doctrines, teachings, or impulses?
Take for example the strange teachings that are running rampant through the Torah followers. There are so many of them cropping up right and left that it is often difficult to keep track and keep up. Lately everything is pagan. Everything from saying the words “blessing” or “amen” to watching the Olympics to the bible being called an idol. Yes! You heard it correct. There are people who believe and teach all this, or they are just passing around another joke to see who falls for it. All these things are randomly being declared forbidden because of their so called attachment to “paganism,” which are claims that cannot even be proven.
Recently I witnessed someone being scolded that they improperly capitalized a letter in a word, therefore giving it “more glory than was appropriate”. And let’s not even discuss the “name game” today. These are just a few, but there are an over-whelming number now, and it seems to grow exponentially every day. It is becoming such a phenomena that people are making memes now to show the silliness of it all. Now, normally these would not be any issue at all because much of this silliness has nothing to do with your salvation, but if a woman in Torah is easily led astray because she falls for these memes, or even this H2O website, what else will she fall for?
WE are responsible for studying. WE are responsible for learning, and testing everything. WE are responsible for knowing the truth. But, sadly, it appears lately many women are more easily deceived than men tend to be. Women have the softer heart, often feel overwhelmed with responsibility, and they act as if they haven’t enough time to study something out fully and test teachings for themselves. Single women in the Torah movement have the need for male leadership to fill that missing gap in their life. However, this desire for male leadership is making these single women susceptible to falling for any man who appears godly, who fills the missing gap. Sadly, no matter what this man teaches, women easily accept what he says as truth because they must follow this new “male leader” in their life.
Ladies, let’s face it, the very first deception was in the Garden, and Eve fell for it. Not Adam. Why? Because it fulfilled her desires. We don’t need to be this way, though. Choose you this day whom you will serve, the deceiver? Or Yahweh!
It is our prayer that you test, challenge and study for yourself all teachings that cross your path. The next time a meme pops up that sounds unnerving or even joyous, please look it up and study it for yourself first before you join in passing false doctrine. Know the truth, know His true teachings and make sure His words are written on your hearts and in your minds. Do this for yourself so that you will know the difference between truth and all the internet lies and strange doctrines being passed around.
Now, go, please, and pour yourself a nice cold glass of dihydrogen monoxide, relax and study to avoid being fooled again!!!
Blessings and Shalom!!!
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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