Song of June

Ma Gadlu
(Psalm 92: 6, 9)

诪址讛-讙旨指讚职诇讜旨 诪址注植砖讉侄讬讱指 讗讚讜止谞讬

诪职讗止讚, 注指诪职拽讜旨 诪址讞职砖讈职讘止转侄讬讱指

讜职讗址转旨指讛 诪指专讜止诐 诇职注止诇指诐 讗讚讜止谞讬

Mah gadlu ma-a-sekha, Adonai

Meh-od amku mach-she-vo-tekha

Ve-ata marom le-olam Adonai

How great are your works, O聽Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!

and you, O聽Lord, are on high for ever.

Song of May

Hashmi鈥檌ni
(Song of Songs 2:14b, 8:13)

讛址砖职讈诪执讬注执讬谞执讬 讗侄转 拽讜止诇值讱职

讻执旨讬 拽讜止诇值讱职 注指专值讘 讜旨诪址专职讗值讬讱职 谞指讗讜侄讛.

讛址讬旨讜止砖侄讈讘侄转 讘址旨讙址旨谞执旨讬诐 讞植讘值专执讬诐 诪址拽职砖执讈讬讘执讬诐 诇职拽讜止诇值讱职

讛址砖职讈诪执讬注执讬谞执讬.

Hashmi鈥檌ni et kolekh

Ki kolekh arev, u鈥檓arekh naveh.

Hayoshevet baganim haverim makshivim

Hashmi鈥檌ni.

Let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
O you who dwell in the gardens,
my companions are listening for your voice;
let me hear it.

REFLECTIONS ON THE READINGS FOR THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING 25th November 2018

REFLECTIONS ON THE READINGS FOR THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

25th November 2018聽聽 CYCLE B

Daniel 7:13-14;聽聽聽聽 Psalm 92:1-2,5;聽聽聽聽 Apocalypse 1:5-8;聽聽聽聽 John 18:33-37


 

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Each of the readings chosen for today originated in a situation of suffering.聽 The first and second readings are examples from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of 鈥榓pocalyptic鈥 literature that emerged in times of persecution.聽 Like the prophets, the authors point the reader to God who guides history towards the establishment of God鈥檚 universal rule, and gives assurance of final victory to those who remain faithful to the Eternal One.

 

The Book of Daniel was written around 167 BCE to inspire courage and perseverance in the Jewish people who, because of their adherence to the God of the Covenant, were violently oppressed by Antiochus IV, who tried to destroy Judaism.聽 Chapter 7 describes a series of visions in which four successive world powers (Babylon, Medes, Persians and Greeks) are represented as beasts which will be destroyed.聽 The vision we read today contrasts the beasts with one like a son of man 鈥 that is, a human being 鈥 who will receive a universal kingdom which will be everlasting.聽 This son of man is identified with those who are聽 righteous, and the kingdom which they will inherit is the final goal of all their suffering.

 

 

The image of God as king is found in early biblical texts.聽 Indeed, in ancient Israel the institution of the monarchy was opposed because it seemed like a denial of God鈥檚 kingship.聽 The celebration of God as King is a prominent theme of the Jewish New Year liturgy during which our psalm today, Psalm 92, is sung.聽 The faith and hope of the believer is expressed in the words of Zechariah 14:9:聽 鈥淭he Lord shall be king over all the earth:聽 in that day the Lord shall be one and God鈥檚 name one.鈥澛

 

The Apocalypse/Book of Revelation from which the second reading is taken, was written to encourage Christians in a time of great distress when persecution was expected in Asia Minor.聽 The titles given to Christ link him both with the Father and with believers on earth.聽 The reference to 鈥one coming on the clouds鈥 is influenced by our first reading from Daniel and the twofold 鈥Amen鈥 suggests that the text was used in the liturgy of the early Church.聽 The reading ends with a proclamation of the sovereignty of God who is the beginning and the end of all creation.

 

In contrast to the other three gospels, John extends the examination of Jesus by Pilate to include this private conversation inside the Praetorium, where there were no witnesses.聽 Through it, John elaborates the meaning of the proclamation of Jesus as king – which is also present in the other gospels.聽聽聽 It becomes clear that political kingship 鈥 which is the only one Pilate understands – is not in question here.聽 Jesus speaks of his kingdom rather than of himself as king (the Jerusalem Bible translation is misleading here).聽 Although this is not 鈥of this world鈥, it does make demands on men and women in their lives on earth, demands which are spelt out in the answer to Pilate鈥檚 second question.聽 Only those who 鈥hear鈥 can understand.聽 Pilate is not among these.

 

At the end of the Church鈥檚 year, it is fitting that our attention is focussed on what lies at the heart of our lives and will be our final destiny –聽 the vision of God and eternal happiness.聽 To acknowledge the sovereignty of God should make a difference to the way we live.聽 The feast of Christ the King was instigated by Pope Pius XI to emphasize the importance of social action.聽 The criterion of our relationship with God will always be loving service of our neighbour.聽 It is clear in the gospels that Jesus, far from assuming the title of king, preferred to call himself 鈥servant鈥.聽 He told the apostles that in order to be his disciples, they too had to be servants of each other.

 

And at the end of our liturgical year, when we celebrate God鈥檚 kingdom, proclaimed and lived out by Jesus, let us recall a prayer from the Jewish liturgy of the Day of Atonement with which Jesus would have been very familiar:聽 鈥Our Father and King, we have no king but You.聽 Our Father and King, have compassion on us and on our children.聽 Our Father and King, may we be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life.鈥

This week鈥檚 Sunday Readings Commentary was prepared by

Sr Margaret Shepherd, NDS, London, UK

margaretashepherd@gmail.com

[Copyright 漏 2018]

 

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

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. 聽Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

鈥︹.鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹..鈥︹︹︹︹

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

鈥淐hristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.鈥

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

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Parashat Vayishlach

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Vayishlach Erev Shabbat 23 November 2018

Week of 18-24 November 2018

Torah portion: Genesis 32:4 – 36:43 聽聽Haftarah: Obadiah 1:1-21

Theme: The Spirituality of a Journey


 

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The primary interest in this parashah is 讛砖讬讘转 ‘注拽讘, Jacob鈥檚 return from Paddan-aram and his twenty years in service of his uncle, Laban, to Kiriath-arba (Mamre, Hebron) where his father, Isaac, now approaching 180, is dying. We can discern here elements of the spirituality of this journey. We might set aside chapter 36, which interrupts Jacob鈥檚 story with its review of the descendants of Esau, concluding with 鈥渉e is Edom.鈥 The Stone edition states: 鈥淚n this genealogy lay the roots of Edom 鈥 the perpetual enemy of Israel鈥 [p. 89]. In the haftarah, Obadiah envisions the disaster that will befall Edom.

 

The spirituality of Jacob鈥檚 journey merits attention. As our parashah begins, Jacob has escaped from Laban鈥檚 service, and has even celebrated the peaceful resolution of his unexpected encounter with Laban, who pursued him as far as Mount Gilead. They go their separate ways. Arriving at Mahanaim, Jacob must deal with his dread of an anticipated confrontation with Esau. He sends gifts in advance, with the message that 鈥淚 have sojourned [讙专转‘] with Laban鈥 and that he is now seeking Esau鈥檚 favor. Rashi comments that 鈥渢he numerical value of 讙专转’ equals 613,鈥 which he interprets as: Jacob 鈥渉as observed the divine commandments鈥; he has not adopted Laban鈥檚 ways鈥 [Stone, p. 79]. Yet, his own righteousness is not a secure refuge for Jacob; he has 鈥渟ojourned,鈥 he has moved on, beyond the birthright issue, but has Esau?

 

News of Esau鈥檚 approach evokes great fear in Jacob. He resorts to four tactics: 1) strategic planning to cut his losses: dividing his possessions to secure at least half; 2) prayer: remembering God鈥檚 promise, 鈥淩eturn to your land and your relatives, and I will do good with you,鈥 Jacob admits his fear, and pleads for rescue; 3) appeasement: dispatching to Esau substantial tributes of herds; 4) the mysterious wrestling incident: alone, at night, Jacob, consciously or subconsciously engages in the struggle that transforms 聽his identity from Jacob [usurper] to Israel [one who 鈥渉as striven with God and men and has prevailed鈥漖.

 

The encounter with Esau occupies just 18 verses [Chapter 33]. They part company peacefully, Esau to Seir, Jacob to Succoth. For Jacob, the dreaded encounter with his brother is over. He arrives in Canaan intact/砖诇诐 — physically recovered, financially prosperous, affirmed in his faith [cf. Tanach, Rashi note, p.82].

 

Chapter 34 provides another perspective on Jacob through his sons鈥 response to the rape of Dina. Jacob challenges his sons, Shimeon and Levi, on their violent revenge, pointing out the damage they have done to the family鈥檚 reputation as they enter Canaan. The sons maintain their attitude, 鈥淪hould he treat our sister like a harlot?鈥 Theirs was a principled yet brutal response, and Jacob reprimands it.

 

Jacob arrives in Beth-El, the place of his earlier dream of the ladder, and God appears to him again, confirming his name, Israel, and disclosing his own name 鈥淓l-Shaddai,鈥 a significant new step in Jacob鈥檚 relation with God. Rachel dies on the road to Ephrath and, finally, at Kiriath-arba, Isaac鈥檚 death brings Jacob and Esau together again, to bury him, and with this the patriarchal succession passes to Jacob.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Identify and reflect on two events in your own present journey in faith and indicate how those have shaped your spirituality. 2. Of the above events in Jacob鈥檚 journey, which speaks most to you? How?

 

Bibliography: Tanach, The Stone Edition, Mesorah Publications (New York, 1998), Brown, Fitzmeyer, Murphy, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall (New Jersey, 1990).

 

This week鈥檚 teaching commentary is by

Diane Willey, NDS, M.A. in Theology, Saskatoon, Canada, Bat Kol Alum 2005, 2006
Email address: dianewilley@hotmail.com

[Copyright 漏 2018]

 

.鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

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.聽聽 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.聽 Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

~~19832018~~

Christians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.

Website: www.batkol.info;聽 聽Parashah Admin: gill@batkol.info

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REFLECTIONS ON THE READINGS FOR THE 33rd SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

REFLECTIONS ON THE READINGS FOR THE 33rd 聽SUNDAY OF THE YEAR,

18th November 2018聽 聽CYCLE B

Daniel 12:1-3;聽聽聽聽 Psalm 15: 5, 8-11;聽聽聽聽 Hebrews 10:11-14, 18;聽聽聽聽 Mark 13:24-32


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In the Book of Daniel, which is our first reading today, God is seen as the omnipotent lord who controls history, setting up and removing earthly rulers and empires, but who also rescues the Eternal One鈥檚 people from the power of those kings.聽 The 鈥渧isions鈥 of chapters 7-12 of Daniel focus on that future.聽 Today, we read from chapter 12, where the notion of 鈥榬esurrection鈥 is explicitly affirmed.聽 This is the only place in the Hebrew Bible where there is a clear statement of belief in life after death, although such a belief subsequently spread, until it finally became orthodox Jewish doctrine.聽 Among those to live forever, the 鈥渨ise/learned鈥 have a special place.聽 The language of 鈥渨ise鈥 and 鈥渕aking many righteous鈥 is derived from the description of the Servant in Isaiah 52-3.聽 Wisdom almost becomes equated with righteousness.聽 The notion of a hidden book, revealed just before the end time, is a common feature of such apocalyptic literature, usually composed under critical historical circumstances 鈥 in the case of Daniel, the Maccabean war against the Syrians.聽 Daniel wrote before Israel鈥檚 victory, around 167 BCE, and his aim was to comfort and strengthen the fainthearted.

 

Our reading from Mark鈥檚 Gospel is also an apocalyptic passage.聽 Chapter 13 of Mark is unlike any other section of the gospel, following a unifying theme, setting out future events right up to the end of time when Christ will come again. The background to this overall theme is found in Jewish apocalyptic writing, particularly Daniel 7-12.聽 In such apocalyptic writing, the secrets of the universe are revealed 鈥 usually in the form of a vision, attributed to some great figure in the past. A speech of this kind, placed on the lips of a great man at the very end of his life has literary precedents elsewhere, for example, in Deuteronomy 32, when Moses addresses the people shortly before his death.聽 Chapter 13 of Mark falls into three sections:聽 the birth pangs; the tribulation; and the End.聽 Today we read from the last of these.聽 Throughout chapter 13, Mark is more concerned to warn his readers about the dangers in store and to urge them to be prepared for a long struggle than to encourage them by suggesting that the End is near.聽 Those who first heard the gospel read could hardly hear these words without realizing that the warnings were addressed to them.聽 The purpose of the whole of Mark 13 seems to be to urge inaction rather than action, for its overall theme is that the time is not yet, although the final section which we read today comes closest to representing Jesus鈥 own attitude.聽 It is understandable if an original message which ran 鈥楤e prepared, watch:聽 the Kingdom of God may come at any time鈥 encouraged the early Christian community to expect an imminent end to the world.聽 As time went by, a new warning was needed in a situation of over-enthusiasm:聽 鈥楧on鈥檛 get too excited:聽 the End is near 鈥 but not as near as all that.鈥櫬 The overall message is a warning that there may be more suffering in store 鈥 a familiar enough theme in a gospel which has emphasized that following Jesus means taking up the cross.聽 But Mark encourages his readers by his confidence in the final coming of the Son of man in glory, bringing victory not only for the Son of man but also for the ordinary faithful.聽 We should certainly not take the message of the readings from Mark and from Daniel as one of doom but rather of hope.聽 As individuals, we have to 鈥榬ead the signs鈥 of our own times, putting our trust in the all-merciful God, revealed in both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.聽 Each of us is precious, each of our lives is intensely meaningful, and the way we live our God-given lives is of the greatest importance.聽 One day we will have to render an account of our lives聽 – to our all-merciful God.

 

In our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, there is a looking towards the end times, which dominates the final chapters of Hebrews and is also the dominant theme of Mark 13.聽 Christ is seen to have 鈥渁chieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying鈥.聽 The present tense of the verb, 鈥渋s sanctifying鈥, implies that the process is a continuing one for the community of Christian believers.聽 We are all on this journey together and need the encouragement given in Mark鈥檚 Gospel to sustain us.

 

We read some verses from Psalm 15 today and here again, there seems to be the hope, at least, in a life after death:聽 鈥溾ou will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay鈥.聽 However, the psalmist鈥檚 concern is with this life rather than with death and beyond.聽 The contrast here is between life with God and life without God, who shows us 鈥渢he path of life, the fullness of joy in God鈥檚 presence鈥.聽 What is important for us is to 鈥渒eep the Lord ever in our sight鈥.

 

This week鈥檚 Sunday Readings Commentary was prepared by

Sr Margaret Shepherd, NDS, London, UK

margaretashepherd@gmail.com

[Copyright 漏 2018]

 

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹.

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. 聽Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

鈥淐hristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.鈥

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

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Parashat Vayetzei

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Vayetzei 鈥揈rev Shabbat 16 November 2018

聽Week of 11-17聽 November, 2018)

Torah Portion: Genesis 28.10-32.3聽聽 Haftarah: Hosea 12.13-14.10

Theme: G-d鈥檚 commitment remains, even when we escape


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It is quite interesting to see the framing of the narrative in our Torah portion that begins and ends with Jacob鈥檚 escapes (vayetzei). Let us look at the nuances at play in the portion and connect this with the Haftarah in Hosea.

 

Jacob escapes the possible wrath he will likely face because he took advantage his father and brother鈥檚 vulnerability. He 鈥渢ook away鈥 the respect and rights from them, respectively. Now Jacob has reached Beer-Sheba and Haran. These places prepare the readers for what will unfold in the entire narrative. Beer-Sheba can mean 鈥渟evenfold oath鈥, which indeed Jacob received seven promises from the L-rd enumerated in 28.13-15. Similarly, Haran can mean 鈥渃rossroads鈥, which is a circumstance in which Jacob finds himself at present. He later named the place Beth-El, which was formerly Luz. Jacob escapes before the sight of his sightless father and gullible brother, and here Jacob realizes that G-d was in that place, at each moment; and such reality 鈥渆scapes from his sight鈥 (this is Luz鈥 meaning). He was afraid (yare) of both realities, which were the deceit he did and the Divine before him. To his thoughts, he surely does not deserve such providential benefit. Hosea鈥檚 call might reverberate to Jacob鈥檚 senses, both of fear and fascination, 鈥淲here are your scourges, Sheol? Compassion will be banished from my sight!鈥 (Hos 13.14) Yet, Jacob sustains himself throughout the years, holding to G-d鈥檚 promises, until his return.

 

Along the crossroads of Jacob鈥檚 life were blessings such as his wives 聽and children, as well as struggles namely the endless cheating made by his father-in-law, Laban. Through the years, Jacob felt that he is being 鈥渞obbed鈥 by his father-in-law, which seems a cycle to some degree of what he did in the past towards his own sightless father. He now knows the feeling, the possible pain or agony of whom he wronged. It is possible that through the years, Jacob has matured and has gained courage to face those whom he 鈥渞obbed鈥 of their rights. Perhaps, Jacob sensed within him G-d鈥檚 words through Hosea, 鈥淚srael, come back to Yah your God.鈥 (Hos 14.1) Even with these words, one thing that Jacob seems to carry with him and must come to terms with, this is his deepest fear, from guilt and loss. Though driven by fear (gazal) that he will be again 鈥渞obbed鈥 by Laban, not only of the things he worked hard for, but this includes his own family. Hence, Jacob decided at that moment to escape (vayetzei), together with his wives, children, servants and flock. But, he was intercepted by Laban. The two later made a covenant, and Jacob was left 鈥渇ree鈥 by Laban with his entire family and flock. On his way, just like the beginning, Jacob encounters angels, thus he named the place Mahanaim, which means, 鈥渁 place of boarder鈥 or 鈥渃rossroad鈥. His journey is not yet done; something is waiting for him at the end that remains unsure. However, one thing is sure, and that is G-d fulfilled his promise. G-d remains true to his commitment, even if we fail, surely G-d will not fail or fail us.

 

Reflection and Discussion: 1. Have you experienced the cycle of your unjust action towards another? How did you realize that such struggle, pain, agony, or misfortune, is similar to a certain degree, of the wrong you did to another? 2. Just like Jacob, have you made peace with your past? What is the effect of this to you today? 3. Are you still in an 鈥渆scape mode鈥 from the reality you have now? Or what is it in your present that you find difficult to face? Why? How can the people around you help you?

 

This week鈥檚 Parashat Vayetzei Commentary was prepared by

Kristine Meneses, Ph.D., Philippines. 聽Bat Kol Alumna 2016

Email address: krstn.rw@gmail.com

[Copyright 漏 2018]

 

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

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.

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

鈥淐hristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.鈥

Website: www.batkol.info;聽聽 Parashah Admin: gill@batkol.info

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32nd Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Gospel Reading

32nd Sunday Ordinary Time of November 11, 2018

Readings: 1 Kgs 17:10鈥16; Ps. 146:6c鈥10; Heb 9:24鈥28; Mark 12, 38鈥44.


 

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The protagonist of this week鈥檚 lectures is a poor widow of Sarepta who lives an extreme situation of indigence and suffering. This very realistic biblical image reminds us of a well-known figure of anawim聽 [the poor of God] concerning a variety of high theological themes and motives of biblical spirituality. The mission of the anawim focuses on revealing the divine Mercy of God: that鈥檚 why these characters of biblical stories are always looking for truth and justice, demanding their legitimate right to be rescued and preserved of every kind of spiritual danger, in order to be saved and obtain the eternal life in heaven. Those crucial biblical themes of both Testaments rooted in exemplarity of human decision to resist spiritually, persevere in asking and pray to the Lord personally 鈥 face to face 鈥 make resonance in the whole Bible.

 

In the Gospel of Mark we encounter another anonymous widow in the same context of self-offering, sacrifice of love for God or fellow sake. As the widow of Sarepta, out of her poverty, sustains the life of Elijah 鈥 stranger in the desert of human indifference, in the land of sin, where there is no rain of God鈥檚 mercy [cf. 1 Kgs 17:7], 鈥 also this evangelic woman gives all her property, putting into the treasury the most precious thing she had 鈥 her own life. This radical example of total renounce to possess anything led us to observe some higher point of divine strategy of salvation.

 

From the theological point of view, the Letter to the Hebrews stresses out an extremely important eschatological aspect: primarily, Christ the High Priest has manifested [cf. perfectum pefaner艒tai: Heb 9:26] i.e. offered Himself once, to put away sin. Secondly, there will be the Final Judgment, when the Son of God will appear again: not anymore with reference to sin [horis hamartias], but for salvation [eis sot膿rias]. Thus, those two polarities 鈥 sin vs. salvation 鈥 delimit the whole existence of men and women as followers of Christ. The real ability to see the Day of the Lord [yom Adonai: cf. Joel 2:1] 鈥 one of the eminent 鈥渓ight鈥 metaphors of salvation [cf. Is 40:5] 鈥 depends on how generous, merciful and mindful we are to each other. pefaner艒tai

 

In other words, eschatology in Holy Scriptures is tightly bound with soteriology and ethics. In this sense, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees [cf. Mk 12:38鈥40] as a literary pattern in the Gospels sounds as an ideological clich茅 鈥 the opposite to the real commitment of love idealized by the little ones: humbles and poor, outsiders and losers. This dramatic separation between Christian and Judaic ethics and tradition reflected, for example, in the famous antitheses [cfc Mt. 5:21鈥48], caused many theological problems touching such debated questions as: the relationship between the First and New Testament, anti-Semitism in the Gospels as well as in the Patristic tradition, contrasted evaluation of the Law and Gospel.

 

In order to give an answer to such urgent imperatives promoted by the biblical text itself, it may be useful to remember what we have mentioned at the very beginning. As the Psalms say, the Lord loves the righteous (Ps 146:8), i.e. looks at our disposition to bring forth good fruit [Lk 6:43]. In God鈥檚 eyes, even the literal and meticulous observation of the Law, from the part of the Pharisees, may put into the treasury of the Kingdom of God those two mites [lepta duo: Mk 12:42], which are enough to imitate the sacrifice of Divine Love and Human Decision.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How can we reconcile, on the practical level, two striking imperatives of God鈥檚 Will: love and sustain the neighbor & observe the commandments? Is it possible for me to be at the same time merciful and righteous, as the Lord is? 2. Except the two widows, what other examples of extreme human needs do the biblical piety bring into account? 3. How the dialectics of Divine Mercy and Human Decision realizes in my life?

 

Bibliography: Artyushin, S. Raccontare la salvezza attraverso lo sguardo. Portata teologica e implicazioni pragmatiche del 鈥渧edere Ges霉鈥 nel Vangelo di Luca (Roma, 2014); Grilli, M. Quale rapporto tra i due Testamenti? Riflessione critica sui modelli ermeneutici classici concernenti l鈥檜nit脿 delle Scritture (Bologna, 2007).

 

This week鈥檚 teaching commentary was prepared by

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

Bat Kol alumnus [2011] artyushins@yandex.ru

[Copyright 漏 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.聽 Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

 

~~19832018~~

Bat Kol Institute, Jerusalem

Christians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.

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

 

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Parashat Toledot

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Toledot Erev Shabbat 9 November 2018

Week of 4-10 November 2018

Torah portion: Genesis 25:19-28:9 聽聽Haftarah: Malachi 1:1-2:7

Theme: Isaac


 

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Chapter 26 of Genesis is the only chapter devoted exclusively to Isaac. You know, that patriarch that people often have difficulties to remember. The character who is mostly remembered either by his father trying to sacrifice him or by his son tricking him. The figure who is always in the background. In this chapter he is finally his own man. He is a man of action: he leaves the place where he was born and settles elsewhere; he is exposed to the risk of losing his wife; he is the target of the Philistine envy; he is childless, but then has two sons who are very different from each other.

 

But wait! Have we not heard about all these events before? We have: these are all the same things that happened to his father Abraham. As Ginzberg writes 鈥淭he life of Isaac was a faithful reflex of the life of his father.鈥 (Ginzberg, 259.) Even though chapter 26 is about Isaac, we are constantly reminded that he was the son of Abraham (verses 3, 15, 18, 24). It seems that Isaac鈥檚 main role is to be the link between different 鈥済enerations鈥 (toledot in Hebrew) that carries on God鈥檚 promise.

 

There is one activity that is particularly emphasized in Genesis 26: digging of wells. Wells had featured in Isaac鈥檚 life before: Abraham鈥檚 servant met his future wife at a well (Gen.24:11) and then Isaac himself met Rebecca after he had visited the 鈥淲ell of the Living One Who Sees Me鈥 or Beer-Lahai-Roi in Hebrew (Gen.24:62). Isaac and his servants reopen the wells dug by his father and rename them the old names (including Beersheba, see Gen.21:31). But he also has his own discoveries of living streams and deeper waters. It is no wonder that in the Jewish tradition Isaac has come down as a quiet man of reflection who digs deep for meanings and relationships both with men and with God, even if it is not obvious to a casual observer.

 

Isaac is all of us who cannot boast about extraordinary circumstances and heroic achievements. But that does not mean that we are less worthy of God鈥檚 promises and blessings. Isaac is crucial in creating a link between generations of active and famous people. But he is not just that, he is also the necessary link to continue God鈥檚 presence in this world through peace, humility and the courage to always dig deeper.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: [1] Are you more like Abraham or like Isaac? Reflect on the importance of them both in the biblical story and our lives. [2] Reflect on other passages in the Bible featured by a well or a stream. How are they similar or dissimilar to the story of Isaac? [3] I encourage you to read the reflection on Toledot by Rabbi Kligler, see http://lsi-wjc.org/toldot-isaac-digs-his-fathers-wells-anew聽 Reflect on God鈥檚 name Mekor Mayim Chayim, 鈥淭he Source of Living Waters.鈥

 

Bibliography: 聽Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia, 1956)

 

This week鈥檚 teaching commentary is by

Rota Stone, M.Litt., New Zealand and Bat Kol alum 2002, 2003
Email address: rotina@runbox.com

[Copyright 漏 2018]

 

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

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.

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

~~19832018~~

Christians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.

Website: www.batkol.info;聽聽 Parashah Admin: gill@batkol.info

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Reflections on the Readings for the 31st Sunday of the Year, Cycle B

Reflections on the Readings for the 31st Sunday of the Year, Cycle B

Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Psalm 17: 2-4, 47-51a; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34

 

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The theme of our readings today is that our love of God is to include love of our neighbour. The passage we read from Deuteronomy is known as the Sh鈥檓a from the command, in Hebrew, 鈥淗ear/Listen鈥. 聽It is central in Jewish tradition and liturgy, repeated morning and night, as well as in moments of gravest crisis and at the hour of death. It has sustained every generation of Jews and deepened their commitment to the one saving and caring God. In Torah scrolls the last Hebrew letters of Sh鈥檓a/Listen and Ehad/One are written large.聽 One explanation given is that, together, these two letters form another Hebrew word, Aid/witness, to emphasize that the Jew who pronounces the Sh鈥檓a witnesses to the Holy One.聽 When a Jew recites these verses, he/she is said to 鈥渢ake upon him/herself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven鈥, which means that entry into God鈥檚 kingdom is only possible through selfless, active love – for love is to show itself in deeds:聽 鈥渒eep and observe鈥.

 

We only read a few verses of Psalm 17, which is almost identical to 2 Samuel 22.聽 It begins with the words, 鈥淚 love you, LORD, my strength鈥, which are better translated as 鈥淚 am impassioned of You, LORD, my strength.鈥澛 Such a translation brings home the depth of feeling that is called for in the Sh鈥檓a of Deuteronomy.聽 As the great medieval commentator, Maimonides, says, 鈥淲hat, then, is the way to love God? When human beings contemplate God鈥檚 works 鈥. they will be seized by a keen longing passion to know God 鈥 as David said, 鈥楳y soul thirsts for God, the living God鈥 (Psalm 42:3)鈥. The lovers of God experience this constant obsession in their heart, as we are bidden to love 鈥榳ith all your heart and with all your soul鈥 and as Solomon expressed allegorically, 鈥業 am lovesick鈥 (Song of Songs 5:8).鈥

 

The story of Jesus and the scribe is told by all the synoptic gospel writers, but with different emphasis.聽 Mark鈥檚 account, which we read today, is probably the oldest.聽 He says nothing about the scribe wishing to 鈥渢empt鈥 or 鈥渢est鈥 Jesus, but simply reflects a sincere desire to express the whole covenant relationship between God and Israel in a simple all-inclusive statement.聽 It鈥檚 significant that Jesus appeals to the Torah in his answer:聽 he endorses what the scriptures say.聽 There is no conflict between the commands of God which are set out there and the demands of the gospel.聽 The challenge to love God and to love one鈥檚 neighbour, once addressed to Israel, is addressed now to Mark鈥檚 readers and is as appropriate for them as it was for the scribe in the story.聽 The question put to Jesus, 鈥淲hich is the first of all the commandments?鈥 was one that was commonly discussed by the rabbis.聽 The issue was whether there was some basic principle from which the whole Law could be derived.聽 In reply, Jesus quotes the opening words of the Sh鈥檓a 鈥 and adds the passage from Leviticus 19:18, 鈥淵ou must love your neighbour as yourself鈥.聽 Certainly they belong together and are held together in the concluding comment:聽 鈥淭here is no commandment greater than these.鈥 Others among Jesus鈥 contemporaries quoted these passages in reply to similar questions.聽 Rabbi Hillel is said to have taught, 鈥淲hat is hateful to yourself, do not do to your neighbour; this is the whole Law, the rest is commentary鈥.聽 Mark鈥檚 account of this story makes an interesting theological point:聽 the teacher of the Law assumes that he is entitled to approve Jesus鈥 teaching, but in fact the roles are reversed, and it is Jesus who approves his.

 

The living out in all its fullness of this 鈥渇irst of all the commandments鈥 is, of course, seen in the person of Jesus, which is at the heart of the passage we read today from the Letter to the Hebrews 鈥 鈥渢he Son who is made perfect for ever鈥.

 

This week鈥檚 Sunday Readings Commentary was prepared by

Sr Margaret Shepherd, NDS, London, UK

margaretashepherd@gmail.com

[Copyright 漏 2018]

 

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

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. 聽Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

 

Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

1983-2018

鈥淐hristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.鈥

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

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Parashat Chayai Sarah

Shabbat Table Talk

Parashat Chayai Sarah 鈥 Erev Shabbat 2 November 2018

Week of 28 October 鈥 3 November 2018

Torah portion: Gen. 23:1-25:18 Haftarah: 1 Kings 1:1-31


 

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We begin this portion with the death of Sarah, the first Matriarch, despite the fact that Chayai Sarah means the 鈥渓ife of Sarah鈥. Sarah is said to have died at 127 years of natural causes. In the Midrash, her death seems to follow the near sacrifice (akedah) of her only son, Isaac, by her husband Abraham… She was grief stricken. Sarah believes that the sacrifice of Isaac is wrong and she doesn’t believe that G-d would command such an act. She values and sees that loving relationships are the ultimate test of morality, faith and the G-d of the Covenant. Sarah may be seen here as the greater hero to her husband who is willing to sacrifice his only son in obedience to divine command. (Shapiro, 71) How could he obey a G-d calling for human sacrifice? Carol Gillian, psychologist, has spoken of the difference between men and women in that women often define themselves in the context of human relationships. They are 鈥渘urturer, caretaker, help mate, weaver of networks for men.鈥 Men too often devalue that care. (Shapiro, 72) Abraham appears unsatisfied with his normal life and seeks a higher truth and meaning. He is the 鈥渟tar gazer鈥 in scripture but often fails in looking for justice in his own home. (Perhaps this understanding comes later as the prophet Hosea says 鈥渋t is mercy I desire and not sacrifices.鈥 (6:6).

 

After Sarah’s death, Abraham secures a plot from the Canaanites to bury her in the land of Hebron. He marries again and fathers more children. Genesis 25:7 gives the length of his life as 175 years. With the death of Sarah, Abraham somehow finds himself understanding her value on relationships that are lasting and meaningful in responding to G-d. He finds that his vision of life is now more humble, real, human. He finds this reality with his family and his concern in finding a good wife for his son, Isaac. His care of his children and his daily life become a holy life without seeking past memories of 鈥渕ountaintop talks鈥 with G-d. He recognizes Sarah’s wisdom, truth, and the value of the long life he and Sarah shared together. Her life was a blessing indeed. The passage from Genesis continues this theme of relationships as it speaks of Sarah’s burial and aged Abraham looking for a secure future for his family with finding a wife for Isaac.

 

In the Kings reading we find the aged King David also seeking to secure his future heir after his 40 year reign with keeping a promise he made to Bathsheba to name her son, Solomon as his successor. Even the prophet Nathan encouraged him to keep this promise despite the fact that his son Adonijah wanted to be the next King. Solomon indeed becomes king and orders his brother’s execution (so much for relationships here!). David’s life is said to have been 70 years following the Psalmist: 鈥淭he span of our life is 70 years.鈥 (Ps. 90:10 鈥 3 score and 10). Whatever the actual length of days of these early ancestors, they pave the way for recognizing that the Covenant made to Abraham and Sarah continues on despite the struggles, pains, sorrows and joys of learning to live together as G-d’s imperfect and yet loved people. That promise lives on to the present day.

 

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. When you look closely at the ancestors and their stories, do you find connections with the realities we face today? In what ways are we 鈥渢he same鈥? Or 鈥渄ifferent鈥? 2. With the newly canonized saints of the Church, we are called to see that throughout history in every generation, G-d summons followers to hear the Word and keep it. No matter the length of our days, we are each called to live our truth in faith as we understand it. How does the life of Sarah and those who follow, inspire us or give us insights into our present relationships and connections to our sisters and brothers around the world?

 

Bibliography: Shapiro The Women’s Torah Commentary 鈥 Vermont, 2000; Leibowitz New Studies in Bereshit (Genesis) 鈥 Israel; Fox The Five Books of Moses 鈥 New York, 1995; Plaut The Haftarah Commentary, New York, 1996

This week鈥檚 teaching commentary was prepared by

Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, M.A.T. Religious Studies, Hockessin DE USA, BK alum 2001

Email:聽 chezcor@msn.com

[Copyright 漏 2018]

 

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹

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.聽聽 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.聽 Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.

鈥︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹︹.

 

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 ~~1983-2018~~

Bat Kol Institute, Jerusalem

鈥淐hristians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.鈥

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

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