The 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sunday Gospel and Reading Commentary

The 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time,  5th of August,  2018

Lectionary readings: Ex.16:2-4, Ps.78:3-4, Eph.4:17, John 6:24-35

Author: Rita Kammermayer


 

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John uses a distinct vocabulary in the gospel and such words as truth, life, light carry a spiritual significance. Frequently, he has a dialogue as the focus of the teaching in which clarification and strengthening of faith would be possible. The people who had witnessed the multiplication of the loaves now followed Jesus and expected to be fed again. There was much misunderstanding and confusion in how they heard the words that Jesus spoke to them.

 

There were others too, who found the sayings of Jesus hard to understand and accept, namely Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman. Both lacked understanding but in the case of the Samaritan woman, she was persistent and earnestly wanted to understand more, whereas Nicodemus seemed stuck in his thinking and unable to move ahead. Often the apostles failed to understand Jesus’ words and we too, frequently miss the point!

 

The crowds put demands on Jesus as he tried to raise their minds from purely earthly things. Their focus was on being full and they failed to understand what had really happened the previous day. In actuality, they wanted a miracle worker who would satisfy all their needs! They did not grasp the fact that the Father is the source of this food and that these loaves of bread were a sign of God’s care for the people. In reality, they only knew of physical hunger, not of a spiritual hunger.

 

In a series of questions, Jesus tried to enlighten them. He told them that he himself is the one who feeds them with eternal food. ‚ÄúDo not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that the Father has set his seal.‚ÄĚ (6:27) They asked him, ‚ÄúWhat must we do to perform the works of God,‚ÄĚ Jesus emphatically explained, ‚ÄúThis is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.‚ÄĚ (6:29) ‚ÄúTherefore, to do the works of God they must join the work of God, to enter into the identity and mission of ‚Äėhim whom he has sent.‚Äô (24:29)¬†¬† The external works have to connect with inner consciousness.‚ÄĚ (Shea, 196)

 

Throughout the dialogue Jesus redirected their attention as to who gave the manna in the desert.  In their minds they saw Jesus as a prophet like Moses. They failed to think of associating Jesus with the Father. The manna in the desert did not validate Moses but was meant to reveal God.  Jesus informed them that Moses was not the true giver, but the Father was and that the giving was not only in the past. Now, in the present, the bread of God has come down from heaven in the person of Jesus. The Father is the ultimate giver of the true bread from heaven which he gives at all times.

 

‚ÄúThe contrast is to the bread Moses gave in the desert; the manna was not really ‚Äėbread from heaven‚Äô (6:32). Only Jesus is that genuine bread (6:55) because he descends from God and offers his life that comes from God, for the bread of God is that which comes from heaven and gives life to the world.‚ÄĚ (6:33)¬†¬† (Johnson, 486)

 

Jesus affirmed that this food is the spiritual life of the world and when they asked for this bread, he declared, ‚ÄúI am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.‚ÄĚ (6:35) Therefore, whoever comes to Jesus will enter into a relationship with him. The Father has established this way of entering into eternal life.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: ‚ÄúTo see is not necessarily to believe but belief makes one see things as they truly are.‚ÄĚ (Johnson, 437)

 

Bibliography: R.Brown, J.Fitzmeyer, R.Murphy, The Jerome Biblical Commentary,(Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1996), Luke T. Johnson, The writings of the New Testament, (Fortress Press, Philedelphia,1986,) John Shea, The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers, (Collegeville, 2005)

 

~~~~~~~

This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by

Rita Kammermayer, nds, BA, B.Ed, Masters of Pastoral Studies, Jerusalem

Bat Kol alumni 2001

ritakammermayer@netscape.net

Copyright © 2018]


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PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

….……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

 

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Mail to: gill@batkol.info; Website: www.batkol.info

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Parashat Ekev

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat¬†Eikev¬†–¬†Erev¬†Shabbat¬†¬†¬†¬†3¬†¬†August¬†¬†2018¬†
Week¬†of¬†¬†29¬†¬†July¬†¬†‚Äst¬†4¬†¬†August¬†¬†2018

Torah portion: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 

Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3 

Author: Mary  Ann  Payne


 

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The¬†Israelites¬†are¬†camped¬†east¬†of¬†Jericho¬†on¬†the¬†plain¬†of¬†Moab,¬†preparing¬†to¬†cross¬†the¬†Jordan¬†and¬†enter Canaan.¬†Moses‚Äô¬†address¬†to¬†the¬†people¬†reminds¬†us¬†of¬†a¬†wise¬†and¬†loving¬†father,¬†as¬†he¬†extols¬†the¬†blessings¬†of¬†¬†a¬†¬†‚ÄĚgood¬†¬†land‚ÄĚ,¬†¬†and¬†¬†the¬†¬†seven¬†¬†species,¬†¬†…‚ÄĚa¬†¬†land¬†¬†of¬†¬†wheat¬†¬†and¬†¬†barley,¬†¬†of¬†¬†vines,¬†¬†figs¬†¬†and pomegranates,¬†a¬†land¬†of¬†olive¬†trees¬†and¬†honey.‚Ä̬†(Deut¬†¬†¬†¬†8:7-8)¬†In¬†an¬†impassioned¬†plea,¬†Moses¬†warns¬†of¬†the¬†danger¬†of¬†such¬†plenty;¬†that¬†if¬†the¬†people¬†forget¬†the¬†gifts¬†of¬†G_d‚Äôs¬†goodness,¬†they¬†might¬†forget¬†G_d Himself.¬†That¬†seven¬†species¬†are¬†named¬†should¬†not¬†surprise¬†us;¬†seven¬†being¬†the¬†number¬†which¬†denotes¬†perfection/completion.¬†In¬†our¬†day¬†let¬†us¬†draw¬†sustenance¬†from¬†these¬†gifts¬†through¬†reflecting¬†on¬†each.

 

Wheat: The staff of life, a prized grain and cereal, a symbol of abundance. Wheat harvest is first mentioned in Gen  30:14. Scripture reports Isaac sowed seed and reaped a hundredfold (Gen  26:12).

 

Barley: Ruth  (1:22)    arrived  in Bethlehem as  the barley harvest  began and gleaned in  the fields behind the  harvesters.  In  biblical  times  barley,  not  as  valued  as  wheat,  was  often  used  for animal

fodder. Having less gluten than wheat it produced a heavier bread which was harder to digest.

 

Vines:¬†Grapes,¬†the¬†fruit¬†of¬†the¬†vine¬†‚ÄúGladdens¬†the¬†heart‚Ä̬†¬†(Ps¬†¬†104:15)¬†and¬†‚ÄúMakes¬†life¬†merry.‚Ä̬†(Ecc 10:19).¬†Noah¬†planted¬†grapes¬†after¬†the¬†flood¬†¬†(Gen¬†¬†9:20)¬†¬†¬†and¬†also¬†suffered¬†the¬†consequences¬†of¬†drinking

too much! Even with careful cultivation, it took five years for the first clusters of grapes to appear and ten years for a marketable crop. Viticulture was work for a settled people, not nomads and because

growing took so long, the cultivation of grapes became a symbol of peace.

 

Figs: The sugar in figs makes them a quick source of energy. (1  Sam:  30:12) Figs are dried and eaten on  journeys,   or  pressed  and  squeezed  into  a cake.  (1    Chron    12:40)    The  fig  tree  lent  its  name  to  two villages  on  the  Mount  of  Olives:  Bethphage,  Beit  Pagi (House  of  Unripe  Figs)  and  Bethany, Beit Te’enah (House of the Fig). In (1  Kings  4:25) figs are seen as an image of tranquillity.

 

Pomegranates: It  is  said that  the  Talmud is as full  of  good deeds as  the  pomegranate is full of seeds. Pomegranates alternate with little gold bells to decorate the High Priest’s robe (Ex  28:33-34)  and

adorn the capitals of the pillars at the doors of the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple  (1Kgs  7:18). Legend has it that King Solomon’s crown  was fashioned after the pomegranate crown.

 

Olives: More than a food, olives and olive oil in particular, provided fuel for heat and light. Each day olive oil was offered to G_d in the tabernacle (Ex29:40), was used to anoint kings (1  Sam  10:1) and

priests (Ex 29:7) and as medicine (Is  1:6). Furniture was fashioned from olive wood and baskets woven from its slender branches. In Aramaic  Gat Shamna  means olive press.  Gethsemane on the Mount of

Olives is named for the daytime toil of pressing olives. When evening came Gethsemane would be a quiet place where one might go pray.

 

Honey: Dates were the source of honey in biblical times. Date palms adorned Solomon’s Temple (1 Kgs  6:29) and often  appear in synagogue decorations.  Towering  date  palms  need water  to  grow and were seen as a symbol of life and pointed to an oasis in the desert. Their fronds resemble a human
spine and serve as a reminder of the virtue of an upright character. Dates were stored up at Masada.

 

For¬†¬†Reflection:‚ÄĚBaruch¬†¬†Eloheinu¬†¬†she-achalnu¬†¬†mishelo¬†¬†uv‚Äôtuvo¬†¬†chayinu‚Ä̬†¬†‚ÄúPraised¬†¬†be¬†¬†our¬†¬†G_d,¬†¬†of whose¬†abundance¬†we¬†have¬†eaten,¬†and¬†by¬†whose¬†goodness¬†we¬†live.‚ÄĚ

Bibliography:¬†Plaut,¬†The¬†Torah:¬†A¬†Modern¬†Commentary,¬†Vamosh,¬†Food¬†at¬†the¬†Time¬†of¬†the¬†Bible¬†‚Äď from¬†Adam‚Äôs¬†Apple¬†to¬†the¬†Last¬†Supper,¬†Mishkan¬†T‚Äôfilah¬†‚ÄstA¬†Reform¬†Siddur

 

This  week’s  teaching  commentary  was  prepared  by

Mary  Ann  Payne,    Melbourne,  Australia,  Bat  Kol  Alum  2007,  2011,  2015 

  mapayne77@gmail.com

[Copyright  ©  2018]

 

 

PLEASE  NOTE:  The  weekly  Parashah  commentaries  represent  the  research  and  creative  thought  of  their  authors,  and  are  meant  to 
stimulate  deeper  thinking  about  the  meaning  of  the  Scriptures.  While  they  draw  upon  the  study  methods  and  sources  employed  by  the  Bat  Kol  Institute,  the  views  and  conclusions  expressed  in  these  commentaries  are  solely  those  of  their  authors,  and  do  not  necessarily represent  the  views  of  Bat  Kol.      The  commentaries,  along  with  all  materials  published  on  the  Bat  Kol  website,  are  copyrighted  by  the   writers,  and  are  made  available  for  personal  and  group  study,  and  local  church  purposes.  Permission  needed  for  other  purposes.                                                          Questions,  comments  and  feedback  are  always  welcome.

 

 

Bat  Kol  Institute  for  Jewish  Studies,  Jerusalem 
1983  -2018

‚ÄúChristians¬†¬†Studying¬†¬†the¬†¬†Bible¬†¬†within¬†¬†its¬†¬†Jewish¬†¬†milieu,¬†¬†using¬†¬†Jewish¬†¬†Sources.‚ÄĚ

Website:  www.batkol.info  Parashat Admin. gill@batkol.info

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sunday Liturgy Commentary

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 29th July, 2018

2 Kgs, 4:42 -44, Ps, 145:10-11,15-16, 17-18. Eph. 4:1-6, Jn, 6:1-15

Theme: The Hand of the Lord feeds us.


 

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We hear in the First Reading, Elisha insisted “Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the Lord, They shall eat and there shall be some left over” (2Kg 4:43). This beautiful little tradition prefigures the miraculous feeding of the Gospel. The bread is multiplied to feed the poor. Earlier in (2Kg 4:1-7) tells of the widow who, like the widow of Zarephath (1Kg 17:7-16) has only a small jar of oil, but its amount multiplies so that she is able to fill all the empty vessels she can find. It also echoes something in the Gospel of Mathew, “you have received freely, give¬† it freely”(Mt10:8-10). Elisha, upon seeing the supplies, did not hesitate but commanded¬† the man to give the food so that others may eat.

 

In the Second Reading, St. Paul, writing from prison, strongly encouraged the congregation of Ephesus to preserve unity. In verse 3 and 4, “Make every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit through bonds of peace. Let there be one body and one spirit, for God, in calling you, gave the same Spirit to all”. Paul is also reminding us, “Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit, through bonds of peace”. To be humble, kind and bear with one another in love, is the meaning of the sharing of the hundred people of the food from the man from Baal-shalishah. Making every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit, through bonds of love, is the very essence of that meal fellowship in the first Reading.

 

The Psalm for today is psalm 145, with our Response; “The hand of the Lord feeds us, he answers all our needs”. Derek Kidner in Psalms 73-150, mentioned Psalm 145 as “An Alphabet of Praise” (pg. 480), as Psalm 145 is one the acrostics psalms. Psalm 145 has 21 verses and the Hebrew alphabet with 22 letters, perhaps that is why the letter (nun) was lacking. Other sources are saying, subsequent editing has destroyed the perfect acrostic arrangement of several of the psalms. The Ashrei, (translating, “happy” or “praiseworthy”) is a prayer composed primarily from psalm 145 in its entirety is recited at least three times daily in Jewish prayers. Ashrei yoshvei veitaecha, od y’hallelucha, selah! (Happy are they who dwell in Your house; they will praise You, always!).

 

In our Gospel reading, we are reminded of the dry desert wilderness, as Moses fed the people with miraculous manna, the Lord Jesus, the new Moses, re-creates that ancient desert wonder and feeds the crowds in the wilderness. Like Elisha (First Reading), Jesus does not have enough, but he calls upon the generosity of collaborators. The “small boy” was certainly generous to give up his meal when asked for it.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How do miracles speak to you? 2. The hand of the Lord feeds us, how? How does the Lord fulfils our longing and desires? 4. How does Psalm 145 speak to you?

 

Bibliography: The Jerusalem Bible-Popular Edition, Darton, Longman &Todd Ltd 1974., www.workingpreacher.org. New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal.,  Palms 73 Р150 A commentary on Books 111 -V of the Psalms by Derek Kinder.

 

This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by

Aliki A Langi, Australia, Bat Kol alumni 2005 and 2018

Email: 1alikilangi@tpg.com.au

[Copyright © 2018]

 

………………………………………………………………

PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

……………………………………………………………

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Mail to: gill@batkol.info; Website: www.batkol.info

 

 

 

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Parashat Va’etchanan

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Va‚Äôetchanan ‚Äď Erev Shabbat 27th July 2018

Week of 22-28 January 2018

Torah portion: Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11   Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26

Theme: ‚ÄėKeep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.‚Äô (Dt. 6:6)


 

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In this week‚Äôs parashah ‚Äėwords‚Äô are again in focus. The quality of how words are heard is significant, even a matter of life and death. (6:34) God uses words to dynamically engage in people‚Äôs lives and, in turn, the people‚Äôs own narrative is shaped by their response, as can be seen in the covenantal theme of all that God has done for the people and what they must do in response. (6:20-25)

 

 

Hearing is a physiological process allowing words to be taken in by the person hearing them. We are invited to hear the words, ‚ÄėHear, O Israel: The¬†Lord¬†is our God, the¬†Lord¬†alone. You shall love the¬†Lord¬†your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might‚Äô and our parashah suggests allowing ‚Äėthese words‚Äô to reach our ‚Äėheart‚Äô, we are commanded to ‚Äėkeep‚Äô these words in our ‚Äėheart‚Äô. (Dt. 6:4-6) ‚ÄėKeep‚Äô is used in the NRSV to translate the verb ◊Ē◊ô◊Ē, to be or become, so this verse can be translated, ‚ÄėThese words, which I command you today, will be/become upon your heart.‚Äô Let‚Äôs consider one possible understanding; that there is a movement between being and becoming as we hold these words in our heart. I suggest this invites a quality of presence that facilitates an ‚Äėactive listening‚Äô to the words we hear. Listening engages other senses besides hearing, such as sight and touch. For example, we see body language and it informs what we understand by a person‚Äôs words or we touch nature, a tree, and its textures ‚Äėspeak‚Äô to us. In Deuteronomy 4:12 God speaks ‚Äėout of the fire‚Äô, echoing Exodus 3:3-4 when Moses turned aside to ‚Äėsee‚Äô and he ‚Äėheard‚Äô God‚Äôs call to him.

 

Our capacity to hear God‚Äôs word more deeply, to experience its influence on our lives, increases according to how we listen. Wilber says that hearing involves ‚Äėnot only hearing out the person and letting them finish. It also means giving ourselves and the speaker time to heed the words that have already been spoken ‚Äď to let them speak to us and reverberate within us.‚Äô (p27) In the Talmud regarding 6:6, Rabbi Meir says that ‚Äėthe significance of the words follows the intention of the heart.‚Äô (Megillah 20a:2) The Talmud also notes that ‚Äėfrom here you derive that the entire portion requires intent.‚Äô (Berakhot 13b:1) The intention of the heart, to ‚Äėlove the Lord your God‚Äô establishes the parameters wherein our endeavour to hear God‚Äôs word finds meaning in our lives. The words and the intention of our heart mutually influence each other so that our choices and outward behaviours reflect our inner quality of listening to God‚Äôs word. Our Haftarah offers some pertinent questions in this regard that we may wish to reflect upon: ‚ÄėHave you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?‚Äô (Isaiah 40:21)

 

For Reflection and Discussion:  [1] How do I receive and listen to God’s word? [2] How do my choices and actions reflect the quality of my listening to God’s word?

 

Bibliography: Babylonian Talmud in safaria.org; Plaut, The Torah: A Modern Commentary, (New York, 1981); Wilberg, The Therapist as listener: Martin Heidegger and the missing dimension of counselling and psychotherapy training, newgnosis.co.uk, 2004.

 

This week’s teaching commentary is by

Thérèse Fitzgerald nds, Ireland, Bat Kol alum 2015 and 2018
Email address:
theresefitzgerald7@gmail.com

 [Copyright © 2018]

 

.………………………………………………………

PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Parashah commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.   The commentaries, along with all materials published on the Bat Kol website, are copyrighted by the writers, and are made available for personal and group study, and local church purposes. Permission needed for other purposes.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

…………………………………………………………

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

~~19832018~~

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Website: www.batkol.info;   Parashat Admin: gill@batkol.info

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The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (22nd July 2018)

Jer 23: 1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-17; Mk.6:30-34

Theme: Sabbath Moments


 

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The apostles returned from their first public ministry. Gathered and reunited with Jesus and each other, they shared what they had done and taught. Jesus invited them to ‚ÄúCome away to a deserted place and rest for a while.‚ÄĚ Their rhythm of life had been filled with intense activity, attending to the needs of the people. Jesus then redirected their attention back to an essential element of being able to participate well in his mission, simply being, seeking time and space for solitude and rest.

 

Rest and renewal are important elements in witnessing to a life of holiness, of wholeness. In the Jewish tradition, the observance of Sabbath exemplifies this. Heschel writes, ‚ÄúHe who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul.‚ÄĚ (Heschel, 23).

 

Jesus seems to echo the essence of Sabbath in his invitation to the apostles. His emphasis on coming away and resting, could be likened to having Sabbath moments in the midst of the demands of their apostolic activities. There has to be a rhythmic balance of engagement and rest in the life of a person living for God.

Our days can be filled with everything and anything but a time to pause, rest and relax. It is so easy to spend our time running from one task to another, until the day leaves. As a new day dawns, we pick up from where we left off the day before. Yet soon enough, our mind and body force us to seek moments of quiet and calm, often, if not always, we end up getting sick, forcing us altogether to stop from being able to do anything.

 

‚ÄúGod makes me lie down in green pastures; God leads me beside still waters. God restores my soul leading me in right paths for God‚Äôs name sake.‚ÄĚ (Psalm 23:2-4). The psalmist reminds us that rest is from God and as we respond to the invitation to take rest in our lives, we glorify God. We are invited to revisit again the beauty of resting, honoring Sabbath moments, seeing it as moments where we can be united with God, who, too rested. Together we marvel at the whole of creation, taking a glimpse of eternity. As we enter deeply into this healing rest, we are restored and reconnected with all there is, was and will ever be.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: [1] How important is it for you to safeguard our days of rest amidst the demands of our daily activities? [2] How can you incorporate Sabbath moments into your days?

 

Bibliography:  Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (New York, 1994)

 

This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by

Weeyaa Villanueva, RNDM, Davao, Philippines, Bat Kol alum 2010

weeyaavillanueva@gmail.com

[Copyright © 2018]

 

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PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

………………………………………………………

 

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Mail to:gill@batkol.info Website:www.batkol.info

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Parashat Devarim

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Devarim ‚Äď Erev Shabbat 20 July 2018

Week of 15-21 January 2018

Torah portion: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22   Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27

Theme: To listen or not to listen …


 

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Devarim is the Hebrew title for the whole book of Deuteronomy and for this particular parashah and it means, among other things, ‚Äėwords‚Äô. Although written after Moses was alive, the book contains various speeches attributed to him, spoken in the final stages of his life as he looks back over the years since leaving Egypt. Devarim recounts, with some variations, much of what has happened in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, and revisits the commandments of God and the importance of obeying them.

 

The title, Devarim, forms an interesting thread around which this parashah might be explored. It begins, ‚ÄėThese are the words which Moses spoke‚Äô (Dt. 1:1) and his words are fluent and determined. Yet, Moses had previously indicated to God, ‚ÄúO my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.‚ÄĚ‚Äô (Ex. 4:10) Rabbinic sources suggest that Moses himself may be slow of speech but when God speaks through him he develops a new fluency and eloquence. For example, Rabbi Jacob Emden, commenting on BT Sanhedrin 99a says, ‚ÄėIt is certain that all of the Book of Deuteronomy is Moses‚Äô words, as he clearly explained at the beginning of the book. But the Shekhinah spoke from within his voice box, as we shall clearly see from several passages, including even the book‚Äôs admonitions, such as, ‚Äėin forsaking Me‚Äô (Dt 28:20), and many other instances.‚Äô (Heschel, p474)

 

Much of what Moses says is God‚Äôs command and the people indicate that they have heard God‚Äôs word by obeying it. However, throughout our parashah, we have people listening and not listening. We have Moses listening to the people (e.g. 1:22, 23), the people listening to Moses (e.g. 1:9-14) and God listening to the people (e.g. 1:34). We also have the people not listening to Moses who is speaking God‚Äôs word (1:43) and God refusing to listen to Moses‚Äô wish to enter the promised land (3:25-26). People seem ambivalent towards the words of others. In our haftarah, Isaiah 1:1-27, we find a reason for this. Here we have a link between words and actions as behaviours ‚Äėtell‚Äô whether or not a person listens to God‚Äôs word. If they do not listen to God, then God will not listen to them because they do not obey God‚Äôs word (Is. 1:15). Listening has consequences but not listening clearly has consequences also.

 

Moses reminds the people that they were frightened when faced with the Amorites and so they did not obey God‚Äôs words and Moses had asked them to trust God in this situation (1:26-33). Trust lies at the heart of every relationship and the words which offer opportunities to trust contain within them the seeds of the actions required to further build trust. In Isaiah 1:21, ‚Äėrighteousness‚Äô no longer dwells in city as it is no longer ‚Äėfaithful‚Äô (from the root ◊ź◊ě◊ü ¬†also meaning trusty, reliable). This situation can only be changed when God returns their judges (Is. 1:26)‚Äô. ‚ÄėRighteousness‚Äô (from the root ◊¶◊ď◊ß) contains layers of meaning including justice, charity, integrity, equity and fairness. A people who want to have such judges are a people who wish to hear and obey God‚Äôs word.¬† In Dt. 1:16-18, a clear link is made between how we ‚Äėhear‚Äô and the quality of our ‚Äėjudgement‚Äô. ‚ÄėJudges must exhibit seven qualities: they must be wise, discerning, and experienced (verse 13); they must be capable, fear God, be trustworthy, and spurn ill-gotten gain (Exod 18:21). Maimonides [9]‚Äô (Plaut p1324) An interesting frame of reference for any of us today.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: [1] Listening and not listening may be familiar in our own lives. Why might it be difficult to listen? [2] What would support me in hearing God’s word more clearly? [3] How does my hearing affect my judgement of others?

 

Bibliography:  Heschel, Heavenly Torah (New York, 2006); BT Talmud in sefaria.org; Plaut, The Torah: A Modern Commentary (New York, 1981)

 

This week’s teaching commentary is by

Thérèse Fitzgerald nds, Ireland, Bat Kol alum 2015
Email address:
theresefitzgerald7@gmail.com

[Copyright © 2018]

 

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PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Parashah commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.   The commentaries, along with all materials published on the Bat Kol website, are copyrighted by the writers, and are made available for personal and group study, and local church purposes. Permission needed for other purposes.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

…………………………………………………

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

~~19832018~~

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Website: www.batkol.info;   Parashat Admin: gill@batkol.info

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The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (15th July 2018)

Amos 7:12-15; Ps 85:9-14; Eph 1:3-14; Mk.6:7-13

Theme: Being Mission


 

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In this Sunday’s gospel, taken from Mark, we read that Jesus calls the twelve, sends them out two by two and gives them authority over unclean spirits. He orders them to take nothing for the journey except a staff. He instructs them to remain in the house that receives them until they depart.

 

The initial phase of the training of the Twelve is now complete; they are ready to participate actively in the mission of Jesus. Their first task as apostles is to be with him; the second is to be sent out and carry out the same works as Jesus himself has been doing. (Healy, 114) Jesus in his instructions seems to give more emphasis on how the apostles are to be, rather than what they are to do or where they are to go.

 

They are to set out two by two, perhaps to ensure that there would be two witnesses in accordance with Deut 17:6 which would be relevant if one is giving a testimony. (Levine, Epub index 2962) The emphasis of having authority over unclean spirits is given. It may be a way of uniting and paving the way for individuals to be accepted back into their communities. The apostles are instructed to go on the journey carrying nothing but the clothes they have on their backs, sandals for their feet and a staff. They are asked to stay in the house that receives them until they depart. They are asked to trust in God’s providence and rely on the hospitality of the people they are to minister to, an opportunity for the individuals in the community to participate in the mission of God. They are asked to build good relationships by remaining with their hosts families.

 

In the first reading we hear Amos clearly knowing what God has tasked him to do and with whom. In the second reading to the Ephesians, we hear how Christ was sent out to unite all to him. Our Sunday readings all speak of different ways of being sent out … being mission.

 

It seems that Mark speaks of yet another different way of understanding mission. Mission is not simply something we do, but rather who we are. To embody mission, we are asked to first and foremost find ways to be with our God, to see ourselves magnificently created in God’s image and likeness. It, then, requires of us to enter into relationships, building communities of oneness with each other and, as Pope Francis encourages us these days, with the whole of creation. We are to be mindful, too, that to embody mission means to be attentive to ways wherein we allow others to participate in God’s mission with us in every possible way.

 

There are many ways of expressing mission in our lives but clearly there are essential aspects: attentiveness to God’s call, being attuned to God’s presence in and around us and “being with” in all our relationships. God is with the one God sends. Ultimately it is about us, in the expression of our lives in big and small ways, becoming God’s message of hope, peace and love for all.

 

For Reflection and Discussion:[1] How are you participating in God’s mission in your daily encounters? [2] How are your relationships reflecting God’s message of hope, peace and love?

 

Bibliography: Levine and Brettler (eds.), The Jewish Annotated New Testament: NRSV translation Epub version (New York, 2011);Healy, The Gospel of Mark (Michigan, 2008)

 

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This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by

Weeyaa Villanueva, RNDM, Davao, Philippines, Bat Kol alum 2010

weeyaavillanueva@gmail.com

[Copyright © 2018]

 

……………………………………………………

PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

………………………………………………………

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Mail to:gill@batkol.info   Website:www.batkol.info

 

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Parashat Mattot/Massei

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Mattot/Massei‚ÄĒErev Shabbat July 13, 2018

Week of July 8-14, 2018

Torah portion: Numbers 30:2‚Äď36:13¬†¬†¬† Haftarah: Jeremiah 2:4-28,3:4, 4:1-2


 

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This week’ reading represents a perfect conclusion of the Fourth book of Torah having its focus in the main theme of the whole Book of Numbers: journey in the wilderness. This great experience of being strangers and pilgrims filled with desire to inherit the Promised Land determines the origins of Israel.

 

Formally, our Torah portion consists of a variety of legal prescriptions that have to do properly with the inheritance of the Land. All the precepts, even though several of them seem especially cruel and anti-human [cf. manslaughter explicitly requested by Moses in Num. 31:15ss.], put forward divine necessity of preservation in purity and chastity the holy root of people of God. In this sense, their pilgrimage in the desert and fighting with the enemies of Their God, initiated in nearby Egypt, has profound spiritual meaning. This sacred war at the center of which stays faithfulness and firmness of divine will to save the ‚Äúlittle ones‚ÄĚ [it is the meaning of the Hebrew root ‚Äúaman‚ÄĚ: ‚Äúto be stable‚ÄĚ; hence derives the substantive ‚Äúemet‚ÄĚ: truth] continues and will continue till the consummation of the world.

 

This eschatological dimension of the wandering in the land of aloneness, hostility and rejection [i.e. the ‚Äúland of not existence‚ÄĚ, because the Presence of God is the synonym of very being and very life] was especially treated by the Rabbinic exegetical tradition. Taking an example from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe we discover two striking metaphors rooted in the polysemy of Hebrew words. So, apart from the toponymal ‚ÄúEgypt‚ÄĚ that hides in it the word ‚Äúmisrayim‚ÄĚ, there is a second meaning: ‚Äúconfinement‚ÄĚ. In contrast with this symbolic name which depicts a negative state of mind (strict, rigid, not comprehensive typical of oppressors) the famous metaphor of the ‚ÄúLand of Israel‚ÄĚ, on the contrary, is bound with the idea of ‚Äúspaciousness‚ÄĚ, fertility and openness and, consequently, with spiritual openness of mind, spacious reality of inner peace and harmony with God! An important turning point is provided by the passage from negativity to positivity, from slavery to liberty, from closure to disclosure, from justice to mercy builds a new hierarchy of values typical of God’s creation: everything is and must be ‚Äúgood enough‚ÄĚ!

 

Viewed from this point, a long section of the present Parashah built on the contrasts [an idyllic tonality of laws regarding the vows, inheritance and dividing the Land as well as construction of the towns for refugees by the tribes of Israel, i.e. the highest manifestation of love, compassion, and¬† respect for human beings, from the one side; strict legalistic application of lex talionis in the account of termination of the enemies of God, ‚Äď from the other] represents his own integrity and pragmatism while taking part in this complex reality of historia salutis [history of salvation]. Among the Prophets, it is especially Jeremiah who points out the beginning of this history ‚Äď wandering in the desert ‚Äď called by him as a ‚Äútime of primeval love‚ÄĚ (Jer. 2:2). This beautiful metaphor of intimate relationship between people and God, never abrogated by transgressions nor infidelity of Israel, teaches us not to avoid negative experiences, but, moreover, integrate such sorrowful pages of our existence into the wideness of the divine plan of salvation whose other name is the ‚Äúhesed‚ÄĚ: ‚Äúmercy‚ÄĚ.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. What is my personal experience of being pilgrim, stranger, outsider or even looser, in the eyes of others? 2. Is it possible to accept injustice, pain or trouble solely claiming for God’s mercy? 3. How do I contribute to insert my limited daily lifetime into the eternal divine plan of salvation?

 

Bibliography: Plaut, The Torah. A Modern Commentary (New York 2006); Dov Ben-Abba (Ed.), The Signet Hebrew-English English-Hebrew Dictionary (Israel); Likkutei Sichot, Vol. II, pp. 348-353, taken from: ‚ÄúTorah Studies: Massei‚ÄĚ (chabad.org, 2018).

 

This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by

Hieromonk Philotheus (Artyushin), Moscow Theol. Academy, Doctorate in Biblical Theology,

Bat Kol alumnus 2011

artyushins@yandex.ru

 [Copyright © 2018]

 

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PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Parashah commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.   The commentaries, along with all materials published on the Bat Kol website, are copyrighted by the writers, and are made available for personal and group study, and local church purposes. Permission needed for other purposes.  Questions, comment3 and feedback are always welcome.

……………………………………………………………

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Website: www.batkol.info; Commentary: gill@batkol.info

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The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (8th July  2018)

Ezekiel 2:2-5; Psalm 123:1-4; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6

 Theme: There is a prophet among them.


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The account on the rejection of Jesus is quite extraordinary if compared to how the Lukan account depicted him, that, ‚ÄúJesus increased in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor.‚ÄĚ [Lk 2:52] In the Markan account, Jesus did not have the esteem of his own people.¬† In fact, he was rejected ‚Äúand they took offense at him.‚ÄĚ [Mk 6:3]¬† They could not see beyond his family line and him being a carpenter.¬† He was too familiar.¬† This is only in reference to the people of his hometown.¬† But, there is also a difficult verse in Mark 3:21.¬† Exploring different translations, we find that there is an obvious translation problem.¬†¬† Who were saying the remark that Jesus was out of his mind, his family and relatives or the people?¬† Mark has indeed effectively conveyed in his storytelling the rejection of Jesus by his contemporaries which creates the creative tension of provoking the reader/listener of the Gospel to make a stand and clarify his/her own beliefs about this person called Jesus Christ.

 

Prophets who heal and who raise the dead is not unique to Jesus alone.  Elijah and Elisha have performed such miracles.  Elijah raised the widow’s son. [1Kings 17:17-24]  Naaman, the army commander, was healed of leprosy through Elisha. [2 Kings 5:1-19]  What was different in Jesus is probably the way the divine activity is associated with him.  We can contrast this to the healing of the lame beggar through Peter’s intervention and his correction of the people’s perception that he healed the man through his own power. He, then, used the occasion to proclaim Jesus to them.[Acts 3:12-13]

 

Regardless of the source of the divine power, are we not supposed to rejoice that good is being done in the world?¬† However, that prophets are rejected continues to ring true even in our contemporary times.¬† Most often, those who tell the truth and do good works in our midst are persecuted and some are even killed.¬† I want to remember, in particular, a courageous religious sister in the Philippines whose advocacy for human rights got her into very serious trouble.¬† That she is committed to being a disciple of Jesus and following the social teachings of the Church is good enough reason for her to withstand persecution. And also remember the priest who recently got killed inside the Church he is serving.¬† These people were quite ordinary, perhaps, not even widely known in the society, but making a difference in their own ‚Äúhometowns.‚Ä̬† Indeed, ‚ÄúThere is a prophet among them.‚ÄĚ [Ezekiel 2:5]

 

Commenting on this Sunday‚Äôs Gospel, Bock remarks, ‚Äú[t]he rejection of such clear divine activity is amazing and tragic to Mark.¬† Even those acting faithfully meet rejection, as Jesus‚Äô example shows.¬† This is a key theme of Mark.¬† You can be faithful and yet be rejected by many who will not see the good you represent.‚ÄĚ [Bock, 203] The crunch is if we are indeed willing to be ‚Äúa prophet among them‚ÄĚ and face similar rejection.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: [1]  Have you had an occasion in the past when you did not speak up for truth and justice?  [2]  In what ways are you being invited to be a prophet today?

 

Bibliography:  Bock, Mark (Cambridge, 2015)

 

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This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by

Sr. Petite Lao, RNDM, Toronto, Canada,

Bat Kol alum 2010, 2014

petitelao@gmail.com

 [Copyright © 2018]

 

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PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

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Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Mail to: gill@batkol.info; Website: www.batkol.info

 

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Parashat Pinchas

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Pinchas ¬†‚Äď Erev Shabbat 6 July 2018

Week of 1-7 July 2018 

 Torah portion: Numbers 25:10-30:1 Haftarah: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3


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Inheritance is an important theme in this week’s reading.  There is the case of the daughters of Zelophehad.  And there is the question of who shall succeed Moses and lead the people into the Land.  For it will not be  one of Moses’ sons; instead it will be the son of Nun, Joshua. Why does the lord instruct Moses to choose Joshua? (Num 27:18-19) Is it because he is brave and resolute, as he demonstrated in the war against Amalek (Ex 17:9-13) and as one of the spies who ventured into Canaan (Num 14:6-9)?  Yet he shares with Caleb this courage and this faith that the Israelites will prevail.  What sets Joshua apart?

 

According to the Sages, this is how Moses approached the lord about his successor:

 

Moses said: Now is the time to make my claims.¬† If daughters inherit, then it is only right that my sons inherit my glory! Said the Holy One blessed be He to him: ‚ÄúWhoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof‚ÄĚ (Pro 27:18) Thy sons idled away their time and did not occupy themselves with study of the Torah; but, as for Joshua, much did he minister to thee and much honor did he apportion thee.¬† He would betake himself early morning and late in the evening to thy meeting house, arranging the benches and spreading the mats.¬† Since he served thee with all his might, it were meet for him to minister to Israel, that he lose not his reward. ‚ÄúTake to thee Joshua the son of Nun‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒin fulfillment of the text: ‚ÄúWhoso keepeth the fig tree, shall eat the fruit thereof.‚ÄĚ (Leibowitz, 342-343)

 

‚ÄúMuch did he minister to thee‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒJoshua is described in Torah as the faithful servant of Moses, seemingly always there at his elbow (Ex 24:13, 32:17; 33:11; Num 11:28).¬† And almost the last words said by Joshua, in the book which bears his name, are: ‚ÄúAs for me and my house, we will serve the lord. ‚Äú(Jos 24:15) Could it be that Joshua‚Äôs devoted service to the people of Israel and to the lord is inspired by the example of Moses?

 

Moses is always ready to serve others. What casts him out of his comfortable life as the adopted son of Pharaoh‚Äôs daughter is the sight of an Israelite being beaten by an Egyptian.¬† He kills the Egyptian, and while this is not to condone homicide, his motive is to rescue the victim of the beating.¬† He flees to the land of Midian and there rescues the daughters of the priest of Midian from shepherds who won‚Äôt let them water their flock.¬† He then waters the animals himself (Ex 2:11-22) He encounters the lord in the burning bush¬† when he is ‚Äútending the flock‚ÄĚ of his father-in-law. (Ex 3:1) This same father-in-law later on thinks that Moses, as the leader of the people,¬† works too hard! (Ex 18:17-18) He is constantly burdened with the people‚Äôs needs and demands, their fear and anger.¬† Complaining to the lord about ‚Äúthe burden of all this people,‚ÄĚ he asks; ‚ÄúDid I conceive all this people, did I bear them, that You should say to me, ‚ÄúCarry them in your bosom as a nurse carries an infant‚ÄĚ? (Num 11:11-12) Despite his understandable exasperation, it is a beautiful image, very different from the usual depiction of the stern figure holding the tablets of the Law. ¬†¬†It is in keeping with the description of him as ‚Äúa very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.‚ÄĚ (Num 12:3)

 

Reflection:  As the people trudged through the desert, Moses may well have helped tired women by carrying their children. Think of him in this way and reflect on the relationship between leadership and service.

 

Bibliography:  Leibowitz, Nehama. Studies in Bemidbar (Numbers), Jerusalem, pp. 342-343.

 

This week’s teaching commentary is by

Anne Morton, Winnipeg, Canada

Bat Kol alum 2010

Email: anmorton@mymts.net

 [Copyright © 2018]

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PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Parashah commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol.   The commentaries, along with all materials published on the Bat Kol website, are copyrighted by the writers, and are made available for personal and group study, and local church purposes. Permission needed for other purposes.  Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

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Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

~~19832018~~

‚ÄúChristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.‚ÄĚ

Website: www.batkol.info;   Parashat Admin: gill@batkol.info

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