- Kislev Scripture Lesson #9: The Festival observance that Adonai desires most
- Don’t be a Rich Fool; instead be Rich in Adonai
- Be careful there are many false shepherds who live among us today
- This Chanukkah try smiling at the faces of people
- We instruct others more by what we do, than by what we say
Kislev Scripture Lesson #9: The Festival observance that Adonai desires most:
בעשרים וארבעה לתשיעי בשנת שתים לדריוש היה דבר־ה’ אל־חגי הנביא לאמר׃
בְּעֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה לַתְּשִׁיעִי בִּשְׁנַת שְׁתַּיִם לְדָרְיָוֶשׁ הָיָה דְּבַר־ה’ אֶל־חַגַּי הַנָּבִיא לֵאמֹֽר׃
שימו־נא לבבכם מן־היום הזה ומעלה מיום עשרים וארבעה לתשיעי למן־היום אשר־יסד היכל ה’ שימו לבבכם׃
שִׂימוּ־נָא לְבַבְכֶם מִן־הַיֹּום הַזֶּה וָמָעְלָה מִיֹּום עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה לַתְּשִׁיעִי לְמִן־הַיֹּום אֲשֶׁר־יֻסַּד הֵֽיכַל ה’ שִׂימוּ לְבַבְכֶֽם׃
Haggai 2:10, 18: “On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month (Kislev 24), in the second year of Darius, the word of Adonai came to Haggai the prophet, saying…” “From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Kislev 24), give careful thought to the day when the foundation of Adonai’s temple was laid. Give careful thought.”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם רְאוּ וְהִשָּׁמְרוּ לָכֶם מִבְּצֹעַ בָּצַע כִּי חַיֵּי הָאָדָם אֵינָם תְּלוּיִם בְּהַרְבּוֹת קִנְיָנָיו׃ וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם לֵאמֹר שְׂדֵה אִישׁ עָשִׁיר אֶחָד עָשָׂה תְּבוּאָה הַרְבֵּה׃ וַיַּחְשֹׁב בְּלִבּוֹ לֵאמֹר מָה־אֶעֱשֶׂה כִּי אֵין־לִי מָקוֹם לֶאֱסוֹף אֶת־תְּבוּאָתִי׃ וַיֹּאמֶר אֶת־זֹאת אֶעֱשֶׂה הָרֹס אֲסָמַי וּבָנֹה גְּדוֹלִים מֵהֶם וְאֶכְנְסָה שָׁמָּה אֶת־כָּל־יְבוּלִי וְטוּבִי׃ וְאֹמַר לְנַפְשִׁי נַפְשִׁי יֶשׁ־לָךְ טוֹבָה הַרְבֵּה לְשָׁנִים רַבּוֹת הִנָּפְשִׁי אִכְלִי שְׁתִי וְשִׂישִׂי׃ וְהָאֱלֹהִים אָמַר לוֹ אַתָּה הַכְּסִיל בְּעֶצֶם הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה יִדְרְשׁוּ מִמְּךָ אֶת־נַפְשֶׁךָ וַאֲשֶׁר הֲכִינוֹתָ לְּךָ לְמִי יִהְיֶה׃ זֶה חֵלֶק הָאֹצֵר לוֹ אֹצָרוֹת וְלֹא יַעְשִׁיר בֵּאלֹהִים׃
הוסיף ואמר להם: “שימו לב והזהרו מכל חמדנות, כי חיי האדם אינם תלויים בשפע נכסיו”. ספר להם משל: “שדהו של איש עשיר אחד הניב יבול רב. חשב האיש בלבו, ‘מה אעשה, אין לי מקום לאסף את יבולי.’ אמר, ‘זאת אעשה, אהרס את אסמי ואבנה גדולים מהם, ובהם אכנס את כל תבואתי ורכושי. ואמר לנפשי: נפשי, יש לך הרבה דברים טובים שנאגרו לשנים רבות. הנפשי, אכלי, שתי ושמחי.’ אלא שאלוהים אמר לו: ‘כסיל! בעצם הלילה הזה ידרשו ממך את נפשך, והדברים שהכנת למי יהיו?’ ככה הוא מי שאוצר בשביל עצמו ואינו מעשיר למען אלוהים.” פ
Then He (the Mashiach) said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of dishonest gain (greed); for a person’s life does not depend on the abundance of his possessions.” He took up His mashal (משל-parable) and said to them, “The field of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop.” He said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my storehouses and build larger ones where I can store all of my produce and goods. And I will say to myself, ‘You have abundant goodness for many years. Rest, eat, drink, and rejoice!'” But Adonai said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be sought from you. As for what you have prepared for yourself, whose will it be?” (נמשל-nimshal, moral lesson, application): “This is the portion of one who stores up storehouses for himself, but does not become Rich in Adonai.”
Don’t be a Rich Fool; instead be Rich in Adonai:
One of the things I appreciate most about my Rabbi David Ben Benyamin (who is my younger brother by twenty years) is that the practice of his faith is very much louder than his speech. In our modern secular society our leaders privately believe that looking good and doing nothing (hypocrisy) is the way to go (these people only pay occasional lip-service to the writings of the prophets). Most of the religious and civic leaders today don’t have a clue about what integrity, sacrifice, and suffering (dedication to G-d) is all about. They sound unselfish (lip service) but most of their lives are actually spent constructing more and more temples (barns, storehouses) of power and wealth for themselves.
Be careful there are many false shepherds who live among us today:
Our modern materialistic, self-centered leaders don’t care at all about the building up of the (physical and spiritual) Temple of Adonai Eloheinu. Our heavenly Father’s Temple is constructed out of the lives of those who exercise faith in His Word. The foundation of the Holy One’s Temple is built upon the cornerstone of Messiah, the words (d’varim) of the Prophets and the teaching of the Shlichim (Hebrew: the sent ones, emissaries). Most of our modern leaders (religion, education, government, and business) at best give lip service to the will of the Father.
Over the Chanukkah (and *Christmas) season our civil and religious leaders talk a lot about the poor and downtrodden, they may even pay a brief photo-op visit with them—-the sick, feeble, weak, and the poor. These leaders are forced by public opinion to provide some token amount of charity to the homeless and the impoverished alien in the land but they are not known by those who are in need. In stark contrast to these false shepherds my unselfish brother David is the kind of special one who is really known by the poor. So much of David’s time is spent serving and helping the homeless here in Northern California that he has at times been thought by the homeless to be a homeless person himself.
*The birthday of the Messiah was not in the winter but in the fall (Tishri 15 – Sukkot). However, the conception of the Messiah did occur in the winter. The announcement of the conception of the Messiah was first announced at twilight by the angel Gabriel to the Jewess Miryam just before Chanukkah began (Kislev 24), and immediately thereafter the Holy One overshadowed Miryam, and she conceived the Messiah at the first of Chanukkah (Kislev 25).
Don’t criticize others or speak on anger to anyone during Chanukkah:
My Rabbi David (Ben Benyamin) says he has been angry and sinned. I know this to be true but I have never seen it. If he has spoken a difficult truth, I have only seen him speak the difficult truth “in love.” If you are a stranger and you call him at 3 AM in the morning: He will answer you and help you in any way he can! This is the kind of “fast” and this is the kind of “temple” construction that Avinu Shebashamayim (our heavenly Father) desires. Abba Avinu wants us to be unselfish, selfless, other-centered. He wants us to be a living sacrifice of love to Him (a peace offering). We are only acting as friends of G-d, who we do not see, when we love those in need who we do see.
During Chanukkah we should all fast selfishness!
During Chanukkah we should all fast selfishness! (and the depression and anxiety that goes with it.). Instead of living in the wilderness of our own self-centeredness let us by faith cross the river and enter the promised land of milk and honey. Once in the sacred land of G-d’s immeasurable love let us feast on His Spirit of generosity and good-will toward all.
This Chanukkah be kind, generous, and compassionate toward all others.
Be especially hospitable to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, to the poor, and the alien in the land. Try as best you can to follow father Abraham’s royal law (תּוֹרַת הַמַּלְכוּת) of loving G-d by loving one’s neighbor according to His royal mitzvah of hospitality to strangers (hachnasat orchim; “bringing in the guests”), just for a few days or if you are like Rabbi David Ben Avraham (may we all be so blessed)—-all year long!
This Chanukkah try smiling at the faces of people:
Practice hospitality: “Bring in the Guests!”
Love the poor and the alien in your community (first in your heart, then follow-up with your check book). Love justice. Be merciful. Walk humbly in the invisible, ineffable Presence of Adonai Eloheinu. Feast on the Presence of the fruit of light: the goodness, righteousness, and truth of the Holy One. Be generous, fully give yourself over to this special season of abundant love (העונה של אהבה בשפע) and He who sees you in secret will open up the windows of heaven (אֲרֻבּ֣וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם) and pour out for us the blessing which brings us prosperity and happiness (מה שמביא אותנו שגשוג ושמחה).
May you experience the Joyousness of the Presence of the Spirit of Loving-Kindness (Chesed).
This season of the eight days of heavenly light be Rich in Adonai! Give generously and cheerfully to all. Then after you have demonstrated that you have heeded the request of what Avinu Shebashamayim wants of you during this special holiday season, then He will be glad to listen to and genuinely consider your requests of Him! “Let your light shine before others in such a way that they may see your good works (tzedakah), and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
We instruct others more by what we do, than by what we say:
Therefore, by his generous example father Abraham has taught us that without the generous works of hospitality to strangers our faith is a dead faith. For a declaration of faith without the Presence of the generous works of the Spirit of Grace (chesed-His loving-kindness) is a dead faith. Therefore, may it be written of us in the Book of Life this Chanukkah that “our truth was kissed by wisdom.” May this joyous season of generosity in abundance bring us into the Presence of His loving-kindness and fullness of joy!