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Parashat Nitzavim ("When you go in")

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Click on the Parashah name to read the summary:

Shabbat

Parashah

Torah

Haftarah

Brit Chadashah

Oct. 1, 2016
Elul 28, 5776

Rosh Hashanah

Nitzavim
 

Deut. 29:10-30:20
[Table Talk]

Isa. 61:10-63:9

Rom. 10:1-18

 

The Last Sabbath of the Year...

The last month of the Jewish calendar (counting from Tishri) is called Elul (אֱלוּל), which this year began Friday, September 2nd (at sundown). Traditionally, this final month of the calendar marks the beginning of a forty day "Season of Teshuvah" that culminates on the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur. The month of Elul is therefore a time set aside each year to prepare for the Yamim Nora'im, the "Days of Awe," by getting our spiritual house in order.

The last weekly Torah portion of the Jewish calendar is parashat Nitzavim, which is always read on the Shabbat immediately before Rosh Hashanah, the start of Jewish new year.  In many synagogues, the opening and concluding paragraphs of Nitzavim are also read during the Yom Kippur morning service. The portion begins: "You are standing here today, all of you, before the LORD your God (אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלהֵיכֶם) ... so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the LORD your God, which the LORD your God is making with you today, that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob" (Deut. 29:10-13). After this Moses went on to review Israel's history and prophetic future -- i.e., the great prophecy of the Diaspora and Return of the Jewish people -- and then he solemnly appealed for us to turn to the LORD for life: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deut. 30:19).

The way
of return (teshuvah) is always a matter of the heart and will: bacharta ba'chayim: "Choose Life!" "For this commandment (of teshuvah) is not hidden from you, and it is not far away. It is not in heaven...nor across the sea.... Rather, the matter is very near you - in your mouth and your heart - to do it" (Deut. 30:11-14; cp. Rom. 10:8-13). In the end of days (acharit hayamin), the LORD will remove the "partial hardening" of the Jewish people so that they will turn to Him with all their heart and soul (Deut. 30:6, Rom. 11:25-26).

 

Rosh Hashanah - ראש השנה
Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Rosh Hashanah (ראש השנה) begins Sunday October 2nd (at sundown) this year. According to traditional Jewish thinking, this holiday commemorates the creation of mankind by God. The Mishnah (earlier part of the Talmud) refers to Rosh Hashanah as the "Day of Judgment" (Yom ha-Din) since all of creation owes allegiance to the Creator and is accountable to Him. The Name Elohim (אֱלהִים) revealed in Genesis 1:1 bespeaks God as the Creator and Judge of the universe (the Name YHVH, on the other hand, reveals God's compassion, as the One who intimately relates to humanity and breathes into us the breath of life (Gen. 2:4)). In Jewish tradition on Rosh Hashanah we stand before God as our personal Creator and Judge. Many Messianic Jews believe that the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a symbol of the rapture (ἁρπάζω) of the followers of the Messiah.

Torah Readings for Rosh Hashanah

Yom Tov

Torah Reading

Haftarah

Brit Chadashah

Rosh Hashanah 1
Mon.
Oct. 3, 2016
(Tishri 1, 5777)

Gen. 21:1-34;
Num. 29:1-6

1 Sam. 1:1-2:10

1 Thess. 4:13-18;
1 Cor. 15:51-54

Rosh Hashanah 2
Tues. Oct. 4, 2016
(Tishri 2, 5777)

Gen. 22:1-22:24; Num. 29:1-6

Jer. 31:1-19

1 Thess. 4:13-18;
1 Cor. 15:51-54

The Torah portion for the first day of Rosh Hashanah is about the birth of Isaac, and the portion for the second day is on the Akedah, or the binding of Isaac (both of which foreshadow the great Lamb of God). The Musaf (additional service) includes extra benedictions added to the normal Amidah, emphasizing God's Kingship, the remembrance of our days, and the call of the shofar to usher in the Messianic Kingdom at the end of days.

Yom Ha-Din - Judgment Day

According to tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of the righteous, the tzaddikim, are written in the Book of Life (סֵפֶר הַחַיִּים), and the destiny of the wicked, the resha'im, are written in the Book of Death (סֶפֶר הַמָּוֵת). However, most people will not be inscribed in either book, but have ten days -- until Yom Kippur -- to repent before "sealing" their fate. On Yom Kippur, then, everyone's name will be sealed in one of the books. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are therefore called Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (עֲשֶׂרֶת יְמֵי תְּשׁוּבָה) - the "Ten Days of Repentance" - so called because it is thought that personal repentance during this time affects the divine decree for the coming year...


 

As Messianic believers, we maintain that Judgment Day has come and justice was served through the sacrificial offering of Yeshua for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the perfect fulfillment of the Akedah of Isaac. Our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, or Sefer HaChayim (Rev. 13:8). We do not believe that we are made acceptable in God's sight by means of our own works of righteousness (Titus 3:5-6), but that does not excuse us from being without such works (as fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives). The Scriptures clearly warn that on the Day of Judgment to come, anyone's name not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). Moreover, professing Christians will stand before the Throne of Judgment to account for their lives (2 Cor. 5:10). "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (1 Cor. 3:13). Life is an examination, a test, and every moment is irrepeatable.  Every "careless" word we utter will be echoed on the Day of Judgment (Matt. 12:36-37). Our future day of judgment is being decided today....

The spring festivals (Passover, Firstfruits, and Shavuot) have been perfectly fulfilled in the first coming of Yeshua as Mashiach ben Yosef, and the fall festivals (Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) will be fulfilled in His second coming as Mashiach ben David. Since the first advent fulfilled all of the spring mo'edim to the smallest of details, we believe that His second advent portends similar fulfillment as revealed in the fall mo'edim

After the summer of harvest (John 4:35), the very first fall festival on the Jewish calendar is Yom Teruah, which is a picture of the "catching away" of kallat Mashiach (the Bride of Messiah) for the time of Sheva Berachot (the seven "days" of blessing that follows the traditional marriage ceremony). Then will come the Great Tribulation and Yom Adonai - the Day of the LORD (יוֹם יְהוָה). The heavenly shofar blasts heard at Sinai will be reissued from Zion.  First will be the gathering together of those who follow the Messiah (i.e., those declared tzaddikim because they trust in the merit of Yeshua's sacrifice), and then God's war against Satan and the world system will begin, culminating in the long-awaited coronation of the King of King of Kings - Melech Malchei Ha-Melachim (מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים).

Rosh Hashanah (or better, Yom Teruah) is therefore a sacred time that has prophetic significance for the Messianic believer, since it commemorates both the creation of the mankind by Adonai as well as the "calling up" of the new creation at the behest of Yeshua, when the sound of the heavenly shofar inaugurates the anticipated End of Days (1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:15-18). Indeed, "teruah" (תְּרוּעָה) is a "calling up" signal for those who belong to Messiah, sounded during the opening of the "Gate to the Wedding" of the great Lamb of God. It also prefigures the coming Day of the LORD and Great Tribulation period that marks God's judgment on an unbelieving world...
 

לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה תִּכָּתֵבוּ בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ

le·sha·nah  to·vah  tik·ka·te·vu  ba·a·do·nei·nu  Ye·shu·a  ha·ma·shi·ach
 

May you be written (in the Book of Life) for a good year
in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah!

Blowing the Shofar (שׁוֹפָר)

Beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul and continuing until the day before Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to blow the shofar (ram's horn) every day (except for Shabbat). This practice was adopted to help us awaken for the coming High Holidays....

The custom is to first blow tekiah (תְּקִיעָה), a long single blast (the sound of the King's coronation), followed by shevarim (שְׁבָרִים), three short, wail-like blasts (signifying repentance), followed by teruah (תְּרוּעָה), several short blasts of alarm (to awaken the soul), and to close with tekiah hagadol (תְּקִיעָה הַגָּדוֹל), a long, final blast:

Listen to the Shofar (click speaker icon)

Shofar Blessing (download)

Psalm 27 - The High Holidays Psalm

It is an old custom to read (or to sing) the Book of Psalms during the month of Elul. In the famous Song of Moses, it is written: וַיּאמְרוּ לֵאמר אָשִׁירָה לַיהוָה / "and they spoke, saying: 'I will sing to the LORD' (Exod. 15:1). This phrase can be formed into an acronym for Elul, and the sages therefore reasoned that hearing the Psalms were vital during the Season of Repentance and Days of Favor.

Of all the great Psalms, however, Psalm 27 is considered the central one of the season of teshuvah. The midrash on the Psalms states that the word ori (אוֹרִי), "my light," refers to Rosh Hashanah (based on Psalm 37:6) whereas the word yishi (יִשְׁעִי), "my salvation" (lit. "my Jesus") refers to the atonement given on Yom Kippur.  King David also mentions that God would hide him in his sukkah (בְּסֻכּה) in the time of trouble, referring to the holiday of Sukkot (Psalm 27:5). Therefore since it alludes to all three of the fall holidays, Psalm 27 is regarded as the thematic Psalm for the High Holidays of the Jewish year.
 

יְהוָה אוֹרִי וְיִשְׁעִי מִמִּי אִירָא
יְהוָה מָעוֹז־חַיַּי מִמִּי אֶפְחָד

Adonai · o·ri · ve·yish·i · mi·mi · i·ra
Adonai · ma·oz · chai·yai · mi·mi · ef·chad
 

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)



Hebrew Study Card 
 

Finally, Psalm 27:13 contains a textual oddity. It is often translated: "Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." The word often translated "unless" is lulei (לוּלֵא), which read backwards spells Elul (אלול). This is said to suggest that salvation comes from faith that sees the goodness of the LORD. Repentance is only really possible if we believe in the goodness and love of the Lord "in the land of the living."

Blessing before Torah Study:

Click for the blessing

Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
     
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
     
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
     
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
     
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
     
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
     
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
     
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
     
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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