In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.

Joseph Shulam: Out of Zion [2023]

Dear Brothers and Sisters around the world,

Israel is being attacked today from Gaza, including rockets being shot toward Jerusalem and the surrounding hills, including Mevasseret Zion where we live. Rockets were shot toward Israel from as far as Yemen, that is by the Houties a part of Iran’s long arm in the Middle East.

Now the arena has spread from Lebanon and Syria in the North, Gaza in the South and Yemen from the far South, with Iran orchestrating and threatening Israel.

This is a red-light district now and Israel needs help and the most important help has to come from God and from Heaven. Please lift up your voices and open up your generosity.

Netivyah is at the tip of the sword as far as Jewish Disciples of Yeshua in the Land of Israel and the help to the Israeli Defense Forces with much needed gear and other supplies including hot meals for our soldiers in the very front lines.

Our congregation just had the Korean brothers and sisters cook a typical Korean Meal and took it to the front lines and the soldiers expressed a gratitude and enjoyed every bit of the spicy Korean food.

I can’t stress the seriousness of this time and this situation. It might sound dramatic and panicky, but it is not. Israel’s existence is being threatened from some five Arab countries and from all four winds of the earth. The abilities and the arsenal of these countries is at least four times
bigger than little old Israel.

Especially Iran has an army that is at least 3 times the size of Israel and a huge arsenal of long and medium range rockets with very big war heads.

Israel and we, the Jewish Disciples of Yeshua, need your prayers and your practical and financial support. You all know that we have very seldom and very rarely have asked for financial help. Now we need your help so that we can help our soldiers in the front lines.

It is not only a physical help. On the contrary, the major help is not the physical, but the physical help with tactical materials that they need and with other materials that will make their lives in the battlefield easier and less stressful.

The change in the attitude toward the Jewish Disciples of Yeshua in this land and the good witness of our soldiers in the front lines is a change of the Consciousness; not only toward us, the Jewish Disciples of Yeshua and our brothers from Netivyah and the Roeh Israel Congregation that come from Korea, Japan, Holland, Finland, Papua, Switzerland, Germany, the USA, and South America.

The international nature of our congregation in Jerusalem will spread good news with a global scope with every good deed thatwe do for our soldiers in the front lines.

Please contribute so that we can continue to bless and provide much needed gear for our soldiers.
Especially pray and pray and knock knock knock on Heaven’s door as the prophet Isaiah
says to the nations:

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I
will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp
that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall
be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name. You shall also be a
crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your
God. You shall no longer be termed forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed
desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the LORD delights
in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your
sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice
over you.” (Isaiah 62:1-5 NKJV)

By the way, our brothers and sisters in the United States that need tax credit for your charitable contributions can contribute to the Netivyah USA account and get the tax credit. I know that this helps and the credit that you get will bless not only the Lord’s work in Israel and round the
world, but also give you an added blessing. You can do this through the web page and just choose the “Netivyah USA “button. I know that this is just a little added benefit for the American citizens that need that IRS credit.

In the darkness of war, and the very bitter hate that the enemies of Israel have against us, the biblical parallel is with the Amalek. The Hamas and those who finance them have proven more than one time that they are Amalek. This is what the Word of God commands Israel already during the exodus from Egypt:

“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he
met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you
were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore, it shall be, when the LORD your
God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your
God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of
Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget." (Deut. 25:17-19 New King James Version)

The behavior of the Hamas leader and their terrorists and their beastly and beyond beastly behavior has proven that they are not only descendants of the Amalek but that they are the Amalek. Or should I say the reincarnation of their long-passed ancestors from the same roots of the Amalek. [1] I am sad to say again that our most bitter and cruel enemies throughout our history have been from among our own ethnic roots, our kind of not-so-distant relatives. Isaiah the prophet already said this in the 8 th Century B.C.

I have a very high respect and deep friendship with many Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians. I deeply respect Palestinian Muslim friends and confess that I trust them more than I trust some of my so called “messianic Jewish brothers” or some Christian missionaries.

I know for sure that many Palestinians both Christians and Muslims are also ashamed and embarrassed by what these demonized and heated creatures drugged with hate did to innocent human beings and to innocent girls and women and little children.

Only the Devil himself can be the architect of such horrible and demonic behavior and only our Lord Jesus Christ can change such twisted souls as those who raped mothers in front their children and then shoot or cut the throat of their fathers and mothers and took the children as hostages. Such behavior could only be compared to what the Nazis did to Jews during World War II.

We all know that as the darkness of human behavior grows, even a little light has the power to dispel it and allow people to see the goodness that exists in human beings. Yes, what happened in Gaza just a few short days ago is a product of racism and hate, and envy and brainwashing by the Hamas leadership that uses the people of Gaza as human shields to be cannon fodder for their own private enrichment while the common people suffer.

The Torah portion that is being read in the synagogues this Shabbat is the portion called Noah.

The reading is from Genesis 6:9 – 11:32. The Haftarah,reading from the prophets is from
Isaiah 54:1 -55:5, and the reading from the New Testament is from Luke 17:20-27.

The most significant verse in the Torah portion of Noah and may be especially in these days, the most important verse in the whole Bible for our days:

“And the LORD was sorry (Repented) that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:6-8 NKJV)

I have a hard time imagining how it is possible for God, the Creator of all and the father of all mankind, could have regretted, repented, sorry, that HE has made man on this earth.

I sometimes, especially when I am sick and have to stay at home, take up a brush and do some very amateurish painting. I have hanging on my walls my paintings; some are good and some are not so good; but they are my babies. I have never thought that I will destroy even one of my not so good and not so successful works of art.

Here we have the creator of the Universe repenting, regretting, being sorry that He created man! This is one of the saddest texts in the whole Bible. But I am so happy that this “But” exists in the Word of God, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” There you have it dear brothers. The power of one semi-righteous man, and his family; Noah who made God think twice before destroying the world. The power of one righteous and just and obedient individual that saved the fate of humanity and was able by his dedication and obedience to preserve the human race as we know it from Genesis till now!

This is probably my greatest teaching – the power of one individual to change the world. If I would not believe in this BIBLICAL TRUTH, I would not have dedicated my life to teach the Word of God all around the world, and to make disciples from both Jews and Arabs, white and black, from Finland and from China, all the way to Brazil and Bulgaria.

It is this one short verse that has, over and over and over, renewed my faith in my own self, and in other individuals: that have changed my understanding of God and of man alike.

I just want to mention of a few of these individuals. Ernest Stewart, Ralph Henley, Bill Long, W.B.West (with whom I had the privilege of spending a few weeks in Israel, but from whom I learned what it means to be committed to the restoration of the First Century Church!).
Dr. John McRay and His family, and
Moshe Ben-Maier and his wife Ahuva. And from Joseph Vactor, who was as different as a person
can be, but as great a disciple of Yeshua and as much as an Orthodox Jew can take the Good
News seriously.

There are some more Holy men and women that have a great influence on me, but no one like Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord when the rest of humanity didn’t care! [2]

Please don’t forget to stand with Israel these days, don’t forget to pray for Israel and for us personally, these days. Don’t forget to help us help our men in the front lines during this harsh time.

Don’t give up and keep holding our hands up in praise and gratitude like Joshua and Hur held the hands of Moses to keep the battle against Amalek.

Yehuda Bachana: Is Serving God Easy? [2023]

Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

Parashat Noach (“Noah”) begins after we read last week’s harsh words:

“…the Lord repented that He had made man on the earth…” — Genesis 6:6

We witness a cruel and ruthless world. People of the flood generation were ruled by their desires alone, and as a result, “the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 7:13). Then came the flood and wiped out the world.

In the days of Noah, every person, or every small group, cared only for themselves and their own needs, on the account of others. Humans turn into bands of animals, that fight for food, shelter and hunting ground. They killed and raped to satisfy themselves.

The world turned into an endless warzone, where everyone is an enemy, and people lived in constant fear of death, rape, or other violent outcome. With no rules or limitations. Violence and wickedness filled the earth.

This Torah portion tells us about Noah, his sons and grandsons. It tells us about the new world that Noah and his family build, but once again it ended sadly: the story of the Tower of Babel, when God scattered men all over the earth.

We learn that as long as a man sees himself as the lord of the land, and does not accept divine authority — as long as he sees himself as God, in charge of his own destiny — such a world cannot continue to exist.

At the end of the “Bereshit” (Genesis) portion we read about Noah’s birth. His father, Lamech, called his son “Noah” — meaning comfort — as a sign of hope, or as a prophecy, that:

“…he will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands…” — Genesis 5:29

It shows an understanding, that our world is broken, and we, as humans, are able to fix and to improve it.

I believe that our job is to improve the existing situation, to see what we can do in order to make things better. Even more so — we need to search for things that we can improve, to search for what and where we can fix, repair, and make better. We have to rise up and act, in every area of our lives!

It is clear that the first place where we can act is our family. From there, we can proceed to our surroundings: neighborhood, workplace, and society.

God called Noah. God found him suitable for the task ahead, because Noah was a man of action. It is written that:

“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” — Genesis 6:9

The Torah describes Noah as a righteous man. But in my opinion, he was also called because of his abilities. Noah worked on the land, he was capable to take care of God’s creation, to replant and to repair what the flood had destroyed.

He was both willing and able to act, to build the ark, to provide all the needs of his zoo in the ark, and more or less to restore and recreate the entire world. God made us in His image, with ability to build and to create.

As Messianic believers, we are called to be workers in the kingdom of heaven. In the New Testament, Yeshua teaches us that the work is overwhelming, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).

Yeshua is calling us to invest and to build the kingdom. And that is why there are so many Messianic charities that help those in need. We help the poor around us, donate to hospitals, to children at risk, to troubled families. We help with new immigrants, and more.

We do not do this so we can convert those in need into our religion. We are doing it because Yeshua commands us to help wherever we can.

There is much to do, and the work is not easy. It wears us down. But we are called to be like Noah, to invest in the future. We are called to build the ark of salvation for everyone who is willing to hear about the coming flood.

Noah’s ark was much bigger than his family needed. We are called to provide and to take care of those in the ark.

Let’s think about Noah. Do you think it was easy for him and his family? They invested everything they had in the ark, and then they spent over a year locked in a stuffy, crowded place, filled with noise and the smell of the animals, like in the zoo, only it was a small, crowded, closed zoo, floating on water.

If we think that serving God is “easy” or “pleasant”, think again. More than anything it depends on our willingness to serve and on the focus of our hearts. Serving God can be easy, and it can be difficult, depending on our attitude.

And sometimes, it can be difficult, regardless of our attitude. Look at the prophets, most of them did not have it easy.

Why did God save Noah? God told Noah:

“…because I have found you righteous in this generation.” — Genesis 7:1

We learn that God tests His creation. He hurts when we sin, especially when we hurt one another. God also tests our hearts, to see if we are faithful and follow Him.

Ezekiel points out Noah’s righteousness:

“…even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.” — Ezekiel 14:14

The New Testament speaks of Noah as a man of great faith. He believed God, that the flood is about to come, and he was ready for it:

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” — Hebrews 11:7

What does the author of Hebrews means by “things not yet seen”? According to the traditional Jewish viewpoint, there was no rain before the flood, but rather dew watered the plants on earth.

It means that Noah believed God, that water will fall from the sky, even though he never saw “rain” before. Noah proved his faith by investing everything into the construction of the gigantic ark. According to Jewish tradition, Noah remained faithful to God’s command, even when his neighbors mocked and despised him.

Our portion begins and ends with two important events — the flood and the Tower of Babel. The destruction of the world and the scattering of mankind throughout the earth.

This week’s Haftara is taken from Isaiah 54:1-10, which is written as a poem. It describes Israel in a metaphoric way. The prophet compares Israel to a barren widow, and gives her a promise of hope and redemption from disgrace.

The Bible is full of stories about barren women who gave birth. Women like Hannah, the mother of Samuel, and Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin.

Rabbinical tradition also speaks about Leah as being barren, until God opened her womb. Even Sarah was barren.

Barrenness is a period of preparation; it teaches us the value of the child. Children born of these women are the heroes of our people, fathers of our nation. And the most important child, also born under special circumstances — He is Yeshua the Messiah.

In verse 2, the prophet Isaiah tells Jerusalem to enlarge its place and prepare for all her sons, who will arrive. the Jerusalem of today is the largest and the most advanced in history. And who are these sons that will come to inherit the land?

The children of Israel are the sons of promise. However, Paul is linking Isaiah’s promise to all the believers. In Galatians 4:27 he quotes Isaiah and says that all who believe in Yeshua become children of the promise, to God. And since all believers in Yeshua join the family, the family of Israel, they are obligated to turn their lives towards Jerusalem, towards Israel.

Undoubtedly, the nation of Israel is God’s firstborn. In Romans, Paul compares the nations of the world to the young branches, that were grafted into the root of an olive tree. This tree is the nation of Israel.

In the end of the Haftara we have a clear connection to the story of Noah. God’s promise to bless Israel and not to hide His face from us is as strong and as stable as His promise not to destroy mankind by flood:

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.” — Isaiah 54:9

The Lord’s mercy for the children of Israel and for those who were added to His nation will stand forever.

This portion also teaches us the principal of “measure for measure”. From the very first stories of the Torah, till the last teaching of Yeshua, they all stand upon this simple principle.

When the flood destroyed the earth, it was as a punishment of equal measure to the corruption of the world:

“God saw how corrupt the earth had become…” — Genesis 6:12

So, God corrupted the earth with the flood. In Hebrew it’s a play on words. And right after the flood, a clear rule was set:

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed…” — Genesis 9:6

The most obvious examples of the “measure for measure” principle in the Torah, are the verses from Exodus:

“…life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound…” — Exodus 21:23-25

Yeshua also teaches us the “measure for measure” principle:

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” — Matthew 7:12


“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you… For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” — Luke 6:37,38

In the verse:

“…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” — Leviticus 19:18

…lies the foundation of all Yeshua’s teachings.

The exact opposite of the flood generation; the generation that drowned in its own lust and desire, the generation that only thought of itself. Yeshua demands from us: what you wish for yourselves, do it for others.

Joseph Shulam: Who is Standing in Front of Us? [2022]

The Torah portion that comes after the Genesis story of the creation is “Noach” (“Noah”). The reading is Genesis 6:9-11:32. From the prophets the reading is from Isaiah 54:1-10. From the New Testament we read from Luke 17:20-27.

Like the portion of Genesis that starts from chapter 1:1 and ends with chapter 6:9, and has all the most important and dramatic events in the history of this Earth, the portion of Noach that starts from Genesis 6:10 has another set of events that are not only dramatic, but also set the stage for all of human history until this very day.

The events that we read in the Torah, and also in the ancient pagan myths, have and still do cast a dark shadow on human history and will continue to do so until we experience the New Heaven and the New Earth, as both Isaiah and the apostle John in Revelation have announced with such great drama.

Please let me start with the end and return to the beginning. The Noach Torah portion starts with some of the most important words in the Torah:

“This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” — Genesis 6:9 [NKJV]

The fact that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and that he is described as “a just man, perfect in his generations” is a message of the greatest importance for humanity before the flood and after the flood, and before Einstein and after Hiroshima.

Why? The reason is simple and important: goodness, generosity, faithfulness, righteousness, social concern, and holiness are all things that are relative and not absolute in any age and in all societies throughout history.

Yeshua our Lord states that relativity in a simple statement:

“But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” — Luke 12:48 [NKJV]

God measures each one of us not by absolute standards, but by relative relational standards. I realize that I have written this before and have given examples from the book of Leviticus and the sacrificial laws that take into consideration the financial standard of the sinner and adjust his sacrificial obligation accordingly.

The rich sinner (who sinned the same sin) has to bring a bull or a calf to the altar for this sin offering. The not-so-rich can bring a sheep or a goat, and the poorer person can bring two pigeons, and the still-poorer person can bring a handful of grain anointed with oil. And for every one of these cases the same sin is forgiven and atoned for equally and completely.

I am bringing this principle up because our society and our congregations and communities would be so much more just and so much more effective if we could be more gracious and more understanding. Who is standing in front of us? Where is the brother or sister coming from? What were the circumstances that brought this brother or this sister to make the mistakes and sin?

Our thinking has to be always seeking to help and to encourage our brother or sister to do better and to mobilize the weaker brother to become stronger and productive. Noah was not a man that was perfect. Noah was perfect in relationship to such a horrible generation that committed such horrible sins and abominations that would make the pen and paper used to write these sins ashamed.

Yet, God looked at Noah and said: “He finds grace in my sight!” We in the 21st century would be much wiser and much more Godlike if we could look at each other with these eyes of the Lord, and seek to justify our weaker brothers and sisters before we condemn them.

Another very important point to learn from Noah is a very much modern Israeli characteristic. When an average Israeli young person is faced with a very difficult task, the first thing that he would say is, “I can do it!” Even if he doesn’t have a clue of how and what and where and when this challenge can be met and overcome.

At times this characteristic is frustrating because the average young Israeli thinks that he is Superman, he knows everything, and can do anything and can climb every mountain and jump over every hurdle.

This was Noah’s attitude when God commanded him to build a very big ship made from special wood, and collect the animals, and provide food and sustenance. This was something that was never done before, and in fact is not repeated in history.

“And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks…’” — Genesis 6:13-16 [NKJV]

The next thing that we see is the following response of Noah:

“Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” — Genesis 6:22 [NKJV]

Noah is so much like many Israelis today! This characteristic is the reason why Israel is considered to be the “startup nation”. Israel is a very small country with a very troubled population, made up of immigrants and children of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.

God’s way of measuring us is not by absolute standards, but by the standard of a great artist that looks at his paintings or sculptures and he sees that something is not perfect in the eyes of the artist. His work is not just as perfect as he would have liked it to be.

A customer comes to buy the work of art, and sees what seems to be an imperfection in the work. The customer points out the imperfections and the artist says: “Dear customer, this what looks like an imperfection is actually what makes this work of art so special and so expensive.” Anyone can take a photograph of the object, but this art is special because it reveals how great the artist is that he didn’t hide the imperfections that we all have, but made them prominent.

In my opinion, this is how God looks at us. As the artist that allowed each one of us to be so unique and special that each one of us is a work of art, “one of a kind”, specially designed and specially produced by God’s hand, even at times with some imperfections.

I personally know families of disciples of Yeshua, born-again saints in God’s kingdom, that have children with serious health challenges and permanent disabilities. At first it seems like the light of their lives was turned off. Later, they say that having a child with permanent disabilities has changed their lives for the better and has given them a special dimension of a kind of love that can’t be understood when having normal and healthy children.

In the whole Bible there is not one character, from the greatest to the least, that is sinless or perfect in his behavior. Some of the greatest heroes of our Bible are people with serious imperfections and sins. Some, like King David, sinned big-time and broke nine of the Ten Commandments, and God loved him and honored him to be the forefather of the Messiah.

We consider Noah a saint, a hero, and the father of the surviving humanity. Noah stayed a hero in the Bible even after he sinned after the flood. Moses didn’t stop being a hero and being used by God after he sinned and didn’t circumcise his sons.

Let us learn from the Lord God of Israel to be less judgmental of our brothers and sisters when there are problems with them, and sin. We must take into account who is the person and what are the circumstances of their sins and problems and seek ways to help them to see themselves in a realistic light and conduct themselves honorably and always seek to do better and improve with the encouragement of our brothers and sisters in the community.

The Haftarah (the reading from the prophets) this shabbat is from Isaiah 54:1-10. In the days of Isaiah (8th century BC) Israel is facing seriously big problems, both from outside and inside, both politically and economically, and the priesthood was corrupt.

From the first chapters, Isaiah has some very harsh and difficult prophecies against Israel, but here Isaiah is giving Israel a big boost of hope and energy, strength to overcome the present reality:

“‘Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate Than the children of the married woman,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited. Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. For the Lord has called you Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, Like a youthful wife when you were refused,’ Says your God.” — Isaiah 54:1-6 [NKJV]

Considering the historical context of Isaiah and the big-time condemnation of the leaders and the priests and the people of Israel, now Isaiah is giving his “spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down”.

We just celebrated the feast of Sukkot in Israel last week. The streets of Jerusalem were full of Christians with flags and posters of support for Israel and of standing with the Jewish people. Christians came from as far as Indonesia and Malaysia, from African countries like Zimbabwe, and from as far as Alaska, Finland, Chile, and Brazil…

The celebration was twofold: the returning of Jews from the dispersion and exile of 2000 years, and the wonderful future and hope of Israel becoming a fulfillment of all these promises that Isaiah and the other classical prophets prophesied near 2800 years ago.

Today you come and visit Israel and Jerusalem and you can see that the barren one is singing and celebrating as one of the more successful and more contributing nations in the world. In spite of the huge difficulties that we have daily in our existence, surrounded by seven nations who hate us and daily seek our demise, we are here and kicking and growing and prospering and defending ourselves against all odds.

The word of God and His promises are living and in effect daily, and there is every day a silver lining in the dark clouds of the Middle East. As the book of Esther says:

“The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor.” — Esther 8:16 [NKJV]

Dear Christian brothers and sisters, stand with Israel, stand with Jerusalem, pray for the salvation of the Jewish nation. Israel is the only nation in the word of God that has numerous promises of God that this nation will be saved.

Join and stand with us and support Israel and support your brothers and sisters in this land. Allow and enable them to do good and bless the poor of Jerusalem and Israel, and bring joy and light and blessings to greater Israel.

Shabbat shalom.

Joseph Shulam: God's Theory of Relativity [2021]

The portion that is being read in all the synagogues around the world this next Shabbat is called Noah. The reading from the Torah is from Genesis 6:9-11:32, from the prophets the reading is from Isaiah 54:1-55:5, and from the New Testament the reading is from Luke 17:20-27.

I want to concentrate my sharing for this Shabbat on the story of Noah. When people read this Torah portion the concentration is on the mechanics of the flood. The building of the ark on which Noah loaded the animals, birds, clean animals that are to be eaten and unclean animals that are not to be eaten.

One truth that comes out of this text that most Christians sadly miss is that, long before Moses and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, Noah already knew which animals are clean and are for food, and which are not clean and ought not to be used for human consumption.

Here is the text right out of God’s word:

“You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female… Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth…” – Genesis 7:2,8 [NKJV]

I am not bringing this text to condemn anyone who has a BLT sandwich. I am not teaching this to convince my non-Jewish brothers and sisters that they ought not to eat a wonderful Maine lobster, or a New England King Crab.

As a Jew, long before I believed in God and in Yeshua (Jesus), I ate everything and enjoyed every bite of the scallops, shrimp, and lobster. And in my home in Jerusalem, long before I believed in God or in Yeshua, pork and beans was a staple.

When my father was home there was not a day that we didn’t eat bean soup, and there was no bean soup in my house that didn’t have a good white cube of pork fat. I am sharing these texts from our Torah portion of this week to establish a biblical fact, and the fact is that long before the giving of the Torah, Noah already knew which was a clean animal and which was not a clean animal.

The Lord commanded Noah to take seven pairs of the clean animals and only two pairs of the unclean animals. As a Jewish disciple of Yeshua (Jesus), this fact that God had commanded Noah to have seven pairs of the clean animals, is a little unsettling.

Add to this narrative of Noah, that the book of Genesis says that Abraham not only believed in God and his faith was counted to him as righteousness, but that Abraham also kept the commandments of God and God’s statues, and even kept God’s Torah… this is some 400 years or more before the Torah was given to Moses and to Israel on Mount Sinai after the Exodus from Egypt. But, it is a biblical fact nonetheless!

God repeats the promises that He gave to Abraham and there is a clear causality in the text from Genesis 26:4,5:

“And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” – Genesis 26:4,5 [NKJV]

Let me get back to Noah, another point that is often missed by preachers and scholars is the relativity that is expressed in the text that is read in the synagogue this Shabbat. Here is the source of that relativity that says to me so much about how God works and how God looks at us and how God evaluates our worth as His children in relationship to the world that we live in and not in absolute terms and values.

“This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” – Genesis 6:9,10 [NKJV]

Does the word of God say that Noah was a perfect man? No, we all know that Noah was not a perfect man, but what makes him perfect in the sight of God is that in relationship to his wicked and evil generation, Noah was a just (righteous, upright) man!

That relativity in which God looks and evaluates us and judges us is of such a great important and it is so often totally ignored in the way our Christian brothers evaluate and judge and condemn each other. In fact God takes His judgement of every generation and every person in a very relative way, and the punishment and the expiation of our sins is also evaluated and punished and required of us by God relatively and never absolutely.

Here are some texts to demonstrate and prove that what I am saying is true throughout the whole bible and throughout all of human history. If this was not so there would be a need for a universal flood to wipe out humanity every several hundred years! God’s mercy and justice are mixed and influence each other that is why God does not judge us all with the same measure! He judges us individually, each according to his ability, and to his responsibility

“And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing; and he shall bring his trespass offering to the Lord for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin. If he is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord, for his trespass which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. And he shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off its head from its neck, but shall not divide it completely. Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. And he shall offer the second as a burnt offering according to the prescribed manner. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him. But if he is not able to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then he who sinned shall bring for his offering one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it, nor shall he put frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. Then he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as a memorial portion, and burn it on the altar according to the offerings made by fire to the Lord. It is a sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for him, for his sin that he has committed in any of these matters; and it shall be forgiven him. The rest shall be the priest’s as a grain offering.” – Leviticus 5:5-13 [NKJV]

The relativity that the Torah shows here of how the Lord looks at us is something that is of first-class importance. It is important because we see from Christian and from Jewish religious history the harshness and immovable judgment in reverse of what the Torah is revealing to us.

We tend to look down and step on our brothers who are less successful in this world. The western church preaches that prosperity in the worldly parameter is a measure of the “favor and blessing of the Lord!”

The poor and struggling brothers and sisters and the unfortunate are less blessed by the Lord. The Lord in the Torah reveals for all that He does not discriminate or show partiality toward a person who is less fortunate in the arena of worldly success.

On the contrary, the Lord grades us on the bell curve and He demands more from those who have more and are more successful in this world. Yes, on the contrary, the Lord is the giver of the same atonement for all, and forgives the sins of the poor just as much and as graciously by charging a handful of grain as to what a rich person should offer with a bull or a sheep.

This is precisely the principle that is pointed out by our Lord Yeshua in Luke 12:48,

“But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” – Luke 12:48 [NKJV]

I really hope that I and my brothers in the faith will learn this principle and practice this divine principle. Because the reverse of these principles is also true and we see it also in the scriptures.

The one who gives a little will also receive a little. The one who gives much will also receive much.

This is a law of nature, it is a law that in the churches of our brothers around the world is hammered hard and repeated often, but only in regard to one area, that is in giving money to the church. However, this principle works not only on giving money to the church. The principle is universal and the Lord God of Israel practices it even in regard to atonement in the Torah.

This universality of relativity, globally and universally, and even in the vast expanse of space, is a good and true principle that Alfred Einstein discovered through science in the 20th Century, but Moses and Israel already had known it from the Torah itself.

The Lord will bless those who learn to bless and show grace to God’s children - the whole human race! I thank God for His revelation of Himself and of His Son Yeshua in such a way that even I can get to know Him better from His Word!

I pray that you do too!

Joseph Shulam: Where Do You Find Yourself in the Genesis Story? [2020]

This is the second week since we have restarted the reading of the Bible from Genesis. The reading this week, which is the second reading of the Bible, is Noah (Genesis 6:9-11:32).

This reading is the second most important reading of the whole Bible. Genesis 1:1-6:8 was read last week, and in my opinion it is the most foundational and important part of the whole Bible. In this next Shabbat’s reading Noah continues the downturn of the relationship between the Creator and His creatures, the humans.

In these readings we learn more about the nature of man and even more importantly the nature of the Creator, the Lord of all! The reading from the prophets is from Isaiah 54:1-55:5, from the New Testament the reading is from Matthew 24:36-46, and 1 Peter 3:18-22.

I would like to review a summary of the downfall of humanity from a different viewpoint:

  1. God created the heavens and the earth. Everything that we see and feel and eat and adorn and build is based on what God did on those first seven days that started with God’s creation in six days and His resting on the seventh.
  2. There was only one thing forbidden to Adam and Eve – to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve and Adam preferred to ignore The Creator’s authority and to do the one thing that they were forbidden to do. The consequences of which still continue to beset our whole world, wherever humans exist.
  3. The next story of the Bible is where a brother kills his own brother for “religious” reasons.
  4. In those days, people lived long lives, hundreds of years. The earth was prosperous and the weather was perfect, there was no rain. Still the human race rejected the Creator and sinned beyond repair to the point that the Creator regretted that He had created man.
  5. The only cure for the condition of the world was to delete and reset. To do this the Creator chose not to start over, but to preserve the human race by choosing Noah and his family to be the seed that would restore the human race to a proper relationship with the Lord.
  6. The next thing you know is that even after the flood, in the land following the salvation of Noah’s family, sin still existed and Noah himself and his son sinned. The flood hadn’t changed human nature or man’s inclination to sin and to disobey the Creator’s program.
  7. The next thing we hear is that all of humanity unites to depose the Creator from His authority and to seek independence from the authority of the Creator and establish their own authority.
  8. At the end of this week’s reading the world is still in a sad state, divided beyond repair, estranged from the love of the Creator, and again the mercy and grace of the Lord provides one individual through whom salvation and restoration of relationships between the Creator and His creatures will be eventually accomplished, Abraham! Abraham our father.

Next week we will be reading about Abraham, and how the Creator intended to use this man from Mesopotamia to be a blessing to all nations.

Just look at this short outline and ask yourselves, my dear brothers and sisters the following question:

Where in this scheme of Genesis would you find yourselves?

My personal answer, is this, I would find myself in the Garden – probably as the Snake! I would find myself as a victim of religious aggression like Able, the brother of Cain.

I would find myself a carpenter working with Noah, to build the Ark and complaining every day about my father Noah’s stupidity and the hopeless dreams that would never be fulfilled. I would find myself demonstrating with black and red flags for unity and raising funds to build the tower that would reach Heaven and provide humanity liberty and would be imagining a world without nations like John Lennon.

I would find myself in the land of broken dreams after the fall of the Tower of Babel. Out of desperation I would pack my bag and get ready to roam the earth, depressed and dejected, hopeless and dreamless.

On my way to the great nation of Egypt, the America of the ancient world, I would encounter a large caravan of many camels and donkeys, and a small army led by a wealthy old Iraqi chieftain and his barren old, very bossy wife Sarah, going down to Egypt.

I would ask Eliezer the caravan leader if I could join them on the journey. He would say: “Young man, if you promise not to worship idols, you can join us!” The rest of the story you can put together for yourselves.

The reading from the prophets this week is also full of wonderful and encouraging words of God. Let me just bring you a few of these words that I find as a source of strength:

“‘Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate Than the children of the married woman,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited. Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.’” – Isaiah 54:1-5 [NKJV]

Thinking of the history of Israel in the last 2000 years, and remembering the suffering of the Jews through the centuries, the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition where Jews were tortured and burned, some alive, in the city squares of Europe. Thinking of the massacres of York, England, and Lion, France, and the expulsions, and pogroms in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, the Baltic countries, then the Nazi Holocaust.

Then reading Isaiah the prophet’s words spoken and written nearly 2800 years ago! These words are medicine to my soul, and they ought to be a great encouragement to every God fearing believer and disciple of Yeshua the Messiah.

No matter what hardships and difficulties we go through in this world, personal, national, international, it does not matter. God has proven in human history that He keeps His promises.

If there is no other proof, the greatest proof is Yeshua Himself. His birth and life were prophesied hundreds of years earlier His entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, his death, his burial, his crucifixion, resurrection, ascension to heaven, and His return, are all set in the program for the salvation of the world by the Creator Himself.

As I consider the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Torah, the fulfillment of the bad things that would happen to Israel for their disobedience, and the challenges of today, I feel like getting and dancing for joy when I read the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and all the prophets.

I am filled with faith, and hope and love, for both my fellowman and for the Creator. Knowing that no matter how bad things are for Israel, and for the world, and for my own family and personal health, the Lord is faithful to keep His promises.

The end will be good for all those who love the Lord and who walk with Him on His path. Everything else is just another lesson that the Lord / the Creator is trying to teach us so that we can have a better life now and for eternity.

This of course includes the coronavirus and all the havoc that it is creating throughout the world. This too will come to an end and we might discover that this horrible illness might turn out in the long run to have been for the good of mankind.

Joseph Shulam: God Came Down [2019]

We just finished reading from Genesis 1:1 – 6:8. Last week I said that Genesis is one of the most important texts in the whole Bible. It is the basis of everything that will follow all the way to the book of Revelation. It starts with man and woman in the best of possible states, and it ends with God regretting that He creating man.

This shabbat’s parasha is just a little better, but it also starts with a God, who in spite of his anger at the generation of Noah, and in spite of wanting to destroy humanity, sees a person who is relatively righteous. He decides to save eight souls of Noah’s family, and essentially restart humanity from these eight souls.

God’s plan is successful, but not without big problems. The act of saving humanity from certain death in the flood does not cure the problem of sin, even with Noah. At the end of the story, after the flood, his son sins, and Noah is an accomplice to Noah’s sin, because he, Noah, invents wine and gets drunk.

The flood ends, and there is a “re-creation” of humanity through Noah’s three sons. Not long after that great act of salvation, through the ark that the Lord commanded Noah to build, humanity again falls into a desire to hedge themselves from the Lord’s rule over His creation, and especially over mankind.

Netivyah | Parashat Noach | “Noah's Ark” from “Bible Pictures with Brief Descriptions” by Charles Foster, published in 1897, Philadelphia, PA
“Noah's Ark” from “Bible Pictures with Brief Descriptions” by Charles Foster (1897)

So, they decide to unite and to build themselves for a defense two instruments, unity of all flesh, and a mega-tower will keep God out of their affairs. In chapter 11, we find, for a second time, this idea that God is talking to someone that is very close to Him, and they make a decision together to destroy the tower and scatter the people dividing them into nations.

So, this second parasha, the very next week after the fall of God’s creation, Adam and Eve, man and woman, we have the fall of humanity again. They are no longer suffering from loneliness, but now they suffer from fear and insecurity. They want to defend themselves from their vulnerability, so that God would not repeat His control of men and slow their ungodly desires.

God comes down with someone and talks in the plural to someone who is accompanying Him:

“But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.” - Genesis 11:5-8 [NKJV]

God comes down! There are a few texts that this phrase appears in, and in every case the dismay of the Jewish rabbis is great. How and why does the Creator of the Universe have to come down and step into the circumstances? Could God, the creator of the Universe, not command hordes of angels to come down and destroy the Tower of Babel?

He had angels come down to talk to Abraham and about the destruction of Sodom. But, in this case, God Himself and someone else came down.

The text says, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language…” This is very similar to the text in Genesis 1:26:

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” - Genesis 1:26 [NKJV]

This within itself is of great interest. The Lord came down. God investigates man’s doings personally, and He came down with someone of significance to discuss what would be done with humanity, that built the Tower of Babel as an act of rebellion against Him.

The depicting of God in human terms appears again in Genesis 18:21, in connection with the divine scrutiny of the situation at Sodom and Gomorrah. This figurative usage implies no limitation on God’s omnipotence, for the divine “descent” presupposes prior knowledge of human affairs from on high, and God’s subsequent counteraction unqualifiedly exhibits His absolute sovereignty.

There is not so subtle irony here. Man builds a tower “with its top in the sky”. They want to reach to heaven where God is thought to dwell.

The Bible presents God’s infinite transcendence and incomparable supereminence. By having God “go down” in order to scrutinize the scene of what men are doing down there, and their unity in order to block God’s authority over them, they become a parody to the point of comedy.

They want to unite against God’s authority and God comes down and topples their tower of cards. In place of unity, they get scattered and alienated from the Creator. In the next chapter, God choses Abraham and his seed to fix that alienation and unite mankind by a Man who will eventually judge all flesh, Yeshua the Messiah.

It is not likely that the Lord came down and brought unnamed angels with Him, to take advice and counsel from the angels, and to divide and spread mankind by giving each his language and territory. Like Deuteronomy says:

“And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.” - Deuteronomy 4:19 [NKJV]

Moses is warning the children of Israel from falling into idolatry by explaining to them that the host of heaven, that they feel driven to worship, the sun and the moon, the stars, are all what God gave the nations to worship, but Israel is to worship God alone.

What happened in this event of the Tower of Babel is that the whole world is divided, and to each is given their territory and language, and even the worship of the powers of heaven, the sun and the moon and the stars. If you notice, these are the main gods of the nations around Israel - Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Hittites, and in fact all the pagan nations.

What happens in chapter 12 of Genesis is that God chooses Abraham and his seed to bring back all the nations to the knowledge and understanding and the worship of the One God, who is the Father of all, the Lord of all. Abraham, Israel, are God’s choice to fix what was broken in the Tower of Babel.

Our Torah portion of Noah, and Genesis, are the demonstration that disaster and destruction and death does not cure the evil desires of humanity, and now God chooses Abraham and his seed to save the world.

As you can see, the Book of Genesis starts with one great calamity after another. It is not a typical religious book or a spiritual narrative. It is the most realistic picture of the human condition.

We are still dealing with the same human condition, and the world has only a few Mary Poppins’ and Goody Two Shoes’. Even Poppies and Snow Whites are hard to find.

There are more Cain and Abel families than the “Little House on the Prairie” type families. We are, as disciples of Yeshua, put to the test every day. We are forced to choose who are we going to be like - Noah, Abraham, and Enoch, or Nimrod and Cain!

It is incumbent upon us, the disciples of Yeshua the Messiah, to have the wisdom and the strength to make the right choices. To do this based on the mission that God has put on us, as Jewish and non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua. We are commanded to be the salt and light of this world, to make the choices that have an eternal good promise!

Read the Bible every day and every week, and follow the order from the beginning to the end. This is the only way you will get the full picture. Trust no one with your soul. You yourself guard it and keep it close to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, who is the only One who can, through His Son, Yeshua, guarantee your eternal life in bliss and the joy of the Lord.

Do good to all men, and above all, to those of the household of the Lord!

Joseph Shulam: We are All in Danger of Falling [2016]

This Shabbat’s reading is the story of Noah and the flood. It is really hard to imagine an artist that is totally disappointed by his grand creation.

After the death of Pablo Picasso there were thousands of paintings and drawings found in his basement. They were all original Picasso paintings and drawings. He never showed these works, they were not up to Picasso’s standard, but he did not destroy his works, he kept them and protected them, but just didn’t show them.

Now these same paintings are being sold for many thousands of dollars. Imagine how big the disappointment of the Creator of the world, the Father of mankind, must have been to decide to almost totally destroy the work of His hands.

The One and only God of the universe, the God who is described as “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”, made a decision that humanity is almost beyond repair and brought on the flood.

Yes, the human race in the days of Noah is described in Genesis as:

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’” - Genesis 6:5-7 [NKJV]

We must remember that there was no idolatry in that generation of Noah. Idolatry was introduced to the world only after the Tower of Babel’s division of human beings into nations. The sins of the generation of Noah were moral, evil, and there was no redeemable factor in the majority of the human race.

The evil was so big that God, the Father of all, the long-suffering and gracious Creator, just about decided to destroy man and start over. It is sad to read that the Creator said: “I am sorry that I have made them.”

The story of Noah actually raises another red flag that greatly concerns me. Here you have a man that is described as,

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” - Genesis 6:8,9 [NKJV]

God saves Noah and his family from destruction in the flood. Yes, soon after the flood we read:

“And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent… And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.” - Genesis 9:20,21, 24 [NKJV]

This story is a red flag for me and I suppose it ought to be for all of us who serve God. The danger is there for anyone, preacher, elder, rabbi, or doctor, to fall. To fall even after receiving such a great blessing and so much grace and love from God.

We all must be on watch constantly and make sure that after receiving God’s grace and gifts we don’t turn around and bring shame on ourselves and our families. There is no guarantee that if today we are men of God and servants of the Most High, tomorrow we could not fall.

With that said I must ask you all to pray for your leaders and for those men of God who are serving the body of the Messiah, and also pray for me and for all the staff of Netivyah.

Joseph Shulam: God's Sadness and Grief [2013]

The reading today in every synagogue is the story of Noah. The reading starts in Genesis 6:9 and ends in Genesis 11:24. Probably this is one of the hardest texts to understand in the whole Bible, and one of the saddest tests. What makes it one of the saddest texts in the Bible is the fact that it says:

“And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” - Genesis 6:6 [NKJV]

The English translations don’t want to use the word “saddened”, so they use the word “grieved” instead.

In this verse we also read that the Lord repented that He made man:

“And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” - Genesis 6:6 [ASV]

The ASV has correctly translated right the word “nicham”, which really means “repented”. The NKJV translated it: “The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the Earth.”

“Sorry” or “repented” or “saddened” or “grieved”, it is a sad text that speaks volumes about God and His creation.

This is especially true when you consider that God does not make mistakes, and that God is in full control of His creation. God knows all things before they happen. How could it be that God repented or was sorry that He created man on the Earth?

These chapters in Genesis hold some of the most important concepts that direct our lives and give us a better understanding of God and how He functions.

This portion of the reading starts with these verses that speak of how bad humanity has become, and it ends with the Tower of Babel, after the flood. Even Noah himself has committed a grievous sin, after the Lord saved him and his family from certain death by water, with the other members of humanity.

If you look at the story of Noah and the flood in this dark and morose light it would be easy to become very pessimistic, even depressed. However, the truth is that in all the statements about the sinfulness of man and God’s role as the responsible adult, God could have designed everything different, from the Garden to the flood, to keep from creating a situation that would condemn man for his bad choices.

The spot of light and demonstration of God taking responsibility for His actions is seen in the decision and one-sided covenant that He makes with humanity, not to destroy the world again with water. The similarity between the beginning of chapter 6 and the text in 8:21 is shocking.

The very same reason why God decided to do the flood and wipe out humanity, except the eight souls of Noah’s family, is the reason why He decided not to do destroy the world again.

Here is the wonderful reality of the God who created the world and all of us human beings. Remember, dear reader, that when God created the world He said “behold it is good” six times only, but on Tuesday he said it twice. When he created man and woman God did not say, “it is good.”

The grace of God is seen in the flood in both the harshness of the flood, an act of exercising justice and payment for sin, and in saving Noah and his family, because Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Even in the punishment for the horrible sins of that generation, God showed His character full of grace and truth, lovingkindness and mercy.

Yehuda Bachana: Noah Was Not a Man of Words [2017]

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

Our weekly Torah portion begins with the following:

This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. - Genesis 6:9 [NKJV]

And already from the first verse we have questions. A question of relativity: what is a just man, perfect in his generations?

The accepted interpretation is that, according to his generation he was righteous. But if he was found to be in the generation of the righteous, such as Abraham or Moses, he would not be so esteemed. In relative terms - in relation to his surroundings - Noah was a righteous man.

The criticism is stinging, and even insulting: it says that indeed there was a righteous man, but righteous in comparison with people who were completely evil. So much so that God had to destroy them and wash them away from the world. And if he were born in the generation of Abraham, Noah would not be considered to be much. He would have just been an average man.

Why don't the commentators like Noah?

Why don't the commentators like Noah? I think it is because of his silence. For example, Abraham hears about the desire to destroy Sodom. Immediately he starts negotiating with God, and he doesn't let up until he gets the answer he wants. That if there are 10 righteous people in Sodom, God will not destroy the city.

Or look at Moses - at the time of the sin of the golden calf, or any other sin of Israel, when God wanted to destroy and/or punish the people of Israel, Moses fiercely protects the people. He goes so far as to risk his own self:

Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written. - Exodus 32:32 [NKV]

What Moses is saying is: either You forgive the people - or You count me with them and erase me from the Book of Life as well.

But Noah did not say a single word, for an entire world.

God wants to destroy the world - and Noah is silent, letting it happen without saying a single word neither in the defense of humanity, nor in the defense of all the creatures of the world.

The difference between putting on a coat or lighting a stove

This can be described as the difference between putting on a coat or lighting a stove.

We are approaching the winter, and thank God we have been blessed with rain, and we must pray for more and more rain. And in the context of the winter, when it's cold, there are those who wear a coat, in order to warm up, and there are those who light an oven to heat others.

And this is the argument of many commentators. Noah was righteous - but it is not enough to be just "OK". It is not wise to just build a personal rescue ship - to put on a coat and warm up alone.

Compare this with Abraham, who defended and tried to save even his complete opposites - the wicked Sodomites.

The understanding is that it is not enough to just to wear a coat, you can and should light the oven and warm the environment.

Noah is not a preacher or a Torah innovator, Noah is not a man of prophecy, or a philosopher, he is not a man of thought or speech, he is not any of these things. So what is Noah? He was a man of work, a man of construction, a man of manual labor. Contrary to Noah's ark, when there was a need for a small box - like a shoebox - to float for a bit on the river, they got Moses' mother Jochebed. And look what a big deal they made out of it!

But when we need to save the human race, the animals, the vegetation, and all the wisdom needed to preserve creation, God got Noah, and our commentators do not approve of him.

Noah is good with large arks, with rescue missions, with practical responsibility, with physical construction and the working of the soil. He is not good with philosophical discussions or high spirituality.

Every member of the community must have a role

The New Testament gives us several lists of gifts, talents, abilities, etc. Some of these are gifts for physical labor and some are spiritual gifts:

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Messiah, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. - Romans 12:4-8 [NKJV] (amended)

Notice the end of the passage that we just read, "...he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." Most importantly, everything we do must be with cheerfulness - if we do anything - it must look like we enjoy doing it, that we're doing it with all our heart.

Every person has a role, every person has a gift, and it is not possible nor is it right to make a comparison between gifts, people, and whatever role is considered to be more important.

Every member of the community must have a role, whether it is an official position, or an unofficial role, such as encouragement, listening, caring for the surroundings, prayer, or visiting the sick and the elderly. We are all members of the Body of Messiah, and we all must give our part for the better of the community.

It can not be that there is a member of the community, who has been with us for years, who has no official or unofficial role.

It is required of every member of the community to continue to give something of his/her own accord to the benefit of the community. Just like in a kibbutz.

Each of us has skills and gifts, and we must use them, and contribute them to the community!

Noah was not a man of words

Back to Noah, his mission, and the outcome.

The first man was given specific roles in the Garden of Eden, and all of them are connected to the earth. Notice how important the matter of earth and vegetation is in the creation of the world.

And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food." - Genesis 1:29 [NKJV]

And it goes on:

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat..." - Genesis 1:15,16 [NKJV]

And the direct punishment of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden is:

Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return. - Genesis 3:17b-19 [NKJV]

So much land - and how does the Torah describe Noah?

And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. - Genesis 9:20 [NKJV]

Noah is not the captain of a ship; he is not a sailor; he is not the savior of the world nor the righteous man of the world. First and foremost, he is a man of the soil. He doesn't settle just with the fruit as it is picked. Noah plants, preserves, and creates wine from the vine.

God cursed the first man ("cursed is the ground for your sake") and Noah comes and works the soil and saves creation, by processing, planting, and raising food.

According to this test, Noah provides the flour and only after him Abraham and the Torah can come, according to the idea, "if there is no flour there is no Torah ."

In conclusion:

  • Noah was a righteous man in his generation, was he righteous in relation to the evil environment? Or in his own right? It does not matter, what matters is that he was a man of deeds, he built the ark, he cared to feed all the creatures, and he replanted the Earth. He was a man of deeds - and not a man of words.
  • We cannot judge between different gifts, we can, however, judge whether the person is doing his or her job properly, and with cheerfulness.
  • There is no work or gift that is more important or less important. It is for each person to perform the role given to him or her. If we do not join hands and contribute to the community with everything we can give, we will never be able to make progress.
  • We are indebted to the rabbi and the guide, just like we are indebted to the cantor, just like we are indebted to those who arrange the chairs, and just like we are indebted to those who pay the electric bill. Without a combination of all these and more, we will not be able to exist - let alone advance.

Shabbat Shalom.

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