The reading of this next Shabbat is actually what I read in my Bar Mitzvah. I had my Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem, in the synagogue near my home in the south side of Jerusalem. We lived on Bethlehem Road and the synagogue was just a little distance from my home – in the same building that I started school on first grade.

My birthday is in March. Usually my birthday is much closer to the feast of Purim, but this year it is a little earlier. Every year I have taught from this parasha – from Leviticus chapter 1:1 – 5:26.

This portion of the Torah deals with the laws of sacrifices. It starts with sacrifices, what is right and what is wrong to sacrifice, and how to sacrifice and butcher the animals for sacrifice.

In fact, most preachers very seldom read or preach or teach much from the book of Leviticus. Especially not from the first chapters that deal with issues of sacrifices that are not so relevant for Christians today, and actually in practice are not very relevant even for Jews. We don’t have sacrifices as a part of our religious practices since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 AD.

There are many issues that are extremely important in this section of the book of Leviticus. I just want to mention a few that in past years I have addressed from this text:

  1. The sacrificial system is not absolute. It is relative! It is relative to the social status and the financial status of the person who sacrifices. It depends on the wealth of the sinner and his ability to sacrifice big animals. A poor person does not have to big a bull or a sheep or a goat, or even two doves. It is enough for a poor person to bring a handful of corn anointed with oil, and for that person, the handful of corn is as effective as a bull brought by a rich person.
  2. The sin is also relative. Not every sin has to be expiated by the sacrifice of an animal or corn even. The sins are graded by the punishment that the Torah requires. Also, the person who sins is relative to the punishment that the Torah requires.
  3. There are at least seven different kinds of sacrifices, and some of them have nothing to do with sin. There are sacrifices of thanksgiving and purification, and others too.

Now I just want to share with you the need for sacrificing! The need to sacrifice is a direct outgrowth of the need to love and to be loved. There are three words in the Greek New Testament for Love, and I can say that the same is true for the Old Testament in Hebrew. I will write about the three Greek Words from the New Testament.

The highest form of love is agape love, that is, love without any selfishness and intention of gain. Agape love is divine-type love. The kind that God loves us with. It is a love that is pure and holy, freely given, and willing to sacrifice for the person or people or goal that is loved with agape love.

The second type of love that is mentioned in the New Testament is philia. This is love between really good friends. Like the city of Philadelphia, which means “brotherly love.” This kind of love also has a sincere desire to spend time and to fellowship, and to give to friends and receive from friends.

The third kind of love is eros, erotic love. It is a love that depends on what you take and what you give, what you gain and what you share. It is not a love that does not seek benefit like agape, and it is no like philia, a question of friendship and sharing as friends. Eros is a love that needs and requires gain and benefit.

Now all these three types of love sacrifice. Agape is like divine love, it is giving of the best, without any motive to gain some selfish gain. The reason that one sacrifices and the motive for the sacrifice is of prime importance, and it makes all the difference how the Lord receives the sacrifices that we make for the Kingdom.

Can we love God and love our families and brothers and sisters without sacrificing anything for the ones that we love? The story of the Good Samaritan is a demonstration of what it means to love people. The Samaritan, who was not considered a friend of the Jews, took that Jew that was wounded and damaged on the road to Jericho. He picked him up and took him to the inn, and was willing to pay for the inn and the medical care of this stranger who was robbed and wounded.

We are commanded, each one of us, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12). The Apostle Paul noted that sacrificing our bodies as living sacrifices is the only reasonable thing that we can do in response to the sacrifice of Yeshua for our sins, for giving us a new life, a new birth, and the hope and promise of eternal life.

How can you go to church, spend an hour or so, and put in the plate just something that will make it clear that you are a part of the congregation and not some freeloader? Of course, you give something, it could even be 10%.

Today people give checks, and checks have your name on them. The people who count the money will know what you gave. So, you have to keep the fashion of the time and place.

However, can you sincerely say that you are sacrificing? You have good projects, that you believe to be good for the Kingdom of God and the salvation of the world, and you give to these projects.

Now, put yourself in the time when there was a Temple in Jerusalem, and you would give an animal, a bull or sheep or goats or birds! You would bring your animal, and before anything the priest will inspect the animal and see if it is healthy and whole, without blemish. If the animal would have a broken leg, or some skin illness, or was breathing heavily – your sacrifice would not be accepted.

The Word of God commands us to give and to give sacrificially. And to sacrifice our life as a living sacrifice. The same requirement that the Israelites had in the Torah is valid for us today. We have to give to the Lord what is without blemish and without damage.

We today must sacrifice and live sacrificial lives, that is, we must give the Lord our best. Because He is worthy not only for our praise, singing, and worshiping, but He is worthy of our best – the best of our life, the best of our time, the best of our money too.

Although the Temple does not exist in our day, there is the need to live a sacrificial life for the Lord and His Kingdom, to make a good change in the world. This includes the sacrifice of time, service, money, and talent, and to care for the needy.

There are many ways to sacrifice for the Lord and for His Kingdom! If you don’t feel that you are sacrificing something for the Lord and His Kingdom, and for the spreading of the Good News – please pray to God and ask Him what you should be doing, and how to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God!

As Israel is approaching the general election on April 9th – the country is increasing in hate, division, and polarization. It seems like everyone is against everyone. Fake News is nothing in Israel. There is fake news, fake dedication, fake political parties, and fake politicians.

Israel needs your prayer and intercession. This country is important for the Kingdom of God. This nation and this country is the stage of history, and the stage of the final chapter of history.

There are some new prayer requests that I would like to share with you:

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Brazil. There are so many great things happening in Brazil, but there are also some challenges that our brothers face. We are so happy to return home to Jerusalem after the long trip to Brazil. We are also happy to be a part of such a wonderful group of brothers and sisters who are so wonderfully dedicated to the Lord and to the restoration of the biblical faith and life as disciples of Yeshua.

We have a very dear family living in Sweden that are faithful prayer partners for Israel and for Netivyah. The Lucca family. Their son Marcus is seriously ill, and I ask you to pray for Marcus Lucca, and for his mother Tertu and father Tapio who are both dealing with serious health issues.

There are some who suffer illness and physical and health difficulties that the Lord can use for His Glory, and I pray for these brothers and sisters in Sweden, and for Ruby Little in Oklahoma, Eli Levi in Cincinnati, and for our dear brothers in Israel, and Marcia my dear wife, and Danah and Noaam and all those on this prayer list – that God will be glorified in their lives and in their healing.

We appreciate so much the contribution for the purchase of the van for Netivyah. The old van has been plowing through the country, taking wonderful gifts of military grade backpacks that hold 80 liters of stuff. These backpacks were filled with goodies and sweets and practical things that will bless the Israeli soldiers who are a part of the Disciples of Yeshua in this land.

Many have already given generously, but we are now halfway to our goal, and I ask those who have not made a contribution for this special project of replacing a van that is 15 years old. The van is a tool for the Hamotzi food distribution program, and the youth ministry, and serving the older generation that needs transportation to attend the worship in the congregation, and scores of other important uses that serve the community and the the needy of this city of Jerusalem.

The time to register and make the reservations for the Conference in Portugal that will be held from May 17-19 and the prayer tour from May 19-23. There are not many days left for making the reservations for hotels and the tour.

The time to make the reservations for the conference in Portugal is running out.

You can register for the conference here – registration is free. Hotels cost money, but they are not expensive in that region of Portugal.

If you need flight tickets and if you want to join the tour for the four days you need to urgently contact Ana Mendes here.

Pray for our Brazilian brothers, especially Marcelo Guimaraes and his family, and the leadership of the Har Zion Congregation, the Teaching from Zion Ministry, and the leadership of Hesed VeEmet (Grace and Truth) congregation, and the Sar El congregation.

We have enjoyed the hospitality of these wonderful brothers and sisters in Belo-Horizonte, and Vitoria, and Curitiba, and we want to ask you to pray for the leadership and the members of these congregations in Brazil, and many of the other fellowships and congregations who stand with us and pray for us and for Israel.

Please remember our dear brother Jacob Damkani in your prayers. He is still not back to himself, but he is well enough to go home from the hospital, and that makes him much happier.

Dr. M. Song, from Korea, and his whole family have been some of the most faithful prayer warriors for Aliyah and for Israel, and for Netivyah. I ask you all to mobilize yourself, your time, your family, and your friends, and lift Dr. M. Song and his family in your prayers. Pray for healing that will come from the Lord, and pray for strength in Dr. Song’s spirit and in his family.

Keep a dear sister in the Lord named Courtney in your prayers.

I am adding two very important prayer requests: Amir the son of Amira – he is a young man, a father and a husband, and a nephew of some of our very close Arab/Palestinian friends. Also pray for the grandmother of Amir, Um Abu-Eid – she is a dear old Arab/Palestinian.

Please continue praying for baby Lion from the Huch family in DFW. Little Lion is doing better, but still far from being out of the woods.

Please continue to pray for our Jewish brother Hillel from Helsinki, and Keijo and Salme in Nokia, and for Tim Tucker, Anne-Mirjami, Satu-Maria and Anna-Majia, Sinni Tuuli, Erki and Sirpa, Keijo and Salme, Evelina, Eva H.

Pray for Patty, Andrea, and Tineke – all are in the Netherlands and need healing from God.

Continue to pray for Julia and Victor, our dear sister and brother in Jerusalem. Both need healing and God’s help.

Please add a dear sister that is suffering from prejudice in Switzerland. Her name is Paula and she needs a divine breakthrough.

Please keep praying for a dear sister named Zhou WenriIan living in China.

There is a dear brother and Pastor Isaac in Chenai, India, who has a deep love for the Lord and for Israel. He is sick with kidney problems and needs a dialysis treatment several times per week. Please pray for a medical miracle for Pastor Isaac and pray for his ministry in the Kingdom of God.

I am also asking you to pray for a dear sister in China who is doing so much for the Kingdom of God – her name is Ema! She has a big burden for a big school that needs the Lord to bless it and open up all the avenues of blessing and enable success both in the physical and spiritual realm.

Margareta is a dear woman who is Orthodox Jewish, please keep her in your prayers. I can report that Margareta has received grace from the Lord and her terrible situation has improved dramatically. We just need to keep praying for her and for her family.

In our congregation please lift in your prayers the following brothers and sisters who need the Lord’s gracious touch of healing: George, Gary, Melanie, and Aharon (Nancy and Don’s son), Sarit, David S., Gabriela, Ahuva, Leah, Ilana, Yehuda H., Hannah, young Gabriela, Zvi D. and his dear wife, and especially Nancy. Nancy is recovering from a CVA (stroke). The Lord was merciful and Nancy will fully recover from this stroke with God’s help.

These brothers and sisters from around the world need your prayer and your intercession and healing: Paulo and Noami, Marcelo’s parents, Curita Sensei, the Abe family, Toru, Takeo Sensei, Daisuke Sensei, Tomoko San, Yumi, and her father and family.

Please pray Ritva Huhtala and for sister Oksanen. They need prayer for illness.

Please pray for Louisa and Tony in Hong Kong.

I have special concern for our dear brother Goh and his family, and for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Knezevich. These are all people for whom you are praying, but I want you to know that these are also people who pray for Israel and for Netivyah and stand and support both Israel and Netivyah.

I want to add a brother from Brazil, who is living in Portugal now, and is having some serious family problems. His name is Ismael Alves.

I wish all of you, who stand with Israel and who pray for Jerusalem, the best of the Lord’s blessings and the fulfillment of all of His promises to His faithful children. For the Lord is gracious and longsuffering and good to all, but especially to those who have faith and hear His word and do it.

Those who hear God and do His will are the ones who are called wise! Those who only hear His word and don’t do it are called foolish! Let us all strive to be wise and never foolish!

Thank you all and know that we in Jerusalem love and appreciate you!

Joseph Shulam
Jerusalem, Israel