A collection of excerpts from Torah Club on the weekly Torah Portions, from Genesis to Deuteronomy.
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We are all on a journey with our Creator. Our journeys are full of purpose and design. And, like all travelers, we make constant choices to move ahead, stand still, drift, or fall backwards. The seed planted in us at Passover has forty-nine days to grow and mature. These days of counting provide a natural and timely opportunity to consider our path.
In the days of the Apostles, both Jewish and Gentile believers observed God's appointed times together. They met in the synagogues and in the Temple on the Sabbath and festival days to celebrate and observe God's holy days. When Gentile Christianity left the cradle of Judaism, the festivals fell into disuse for them. Is this what God intended for believers?
Rosh HaShanah occurs on the biblical calendar as the next appointed time after the festival of Shavu’ot. Ever since the bestowing of the Spirit at Pentecost we have been awaiting His return. The years have passed and turned into centuries. His disciples still wait for the sound of His trumpet that will herald His return. The annual blast of the shofar foreshadows that day when the heavens will be rent by the sound of Messiah’s trumpet.
Five days after the Day of Atonement, the Festival of Tabernacles begins. It is seven days long. The first day is a special Sabbath. The Hebrew name of the festival is sukkot (סוכות), a word that means "shelters, stables or huts." The same word is often translated into English as "tabernacles" or "booths." The name is derived from the commandment for all Jews to dwell in temporary shelters for the seven days of the festival as a reminder of the post-exodus years when Israel lived in huts and booths, following God in the wilderness:
The appointed times of the LORD are like annual rehearsals for the appointed times of redemption and blueprints for the work of Messiah. The spring festivals of Pesach, the Omer, and Shavu’ot all received a messianic fulfillment in the Master’s first coming. The fall festivals of the Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret all point toward His second coming. They are a “shadow of what is to come” (Colossians 2:17). Even so, come quickly Master!
The Torah commands the Jewish people to blow the shofar on Rosh HaShanah as a memorial, but it does not indicate what the blowing of the shofar memorializes. The sages offered various attempts to explain the festival. They searched through the Scriptures for references to shofars and trumpet blasts and derived a plethora of different remembrances. The early medieval sage Rav Sa’adiah Ga’on codified the various explanations along with traditional themes associated with the festival and produced a list of ten primary remembrances for which the shofar is blown on Rosh HaShanah. Each of these remembrances highlights a unique aspect of the festival.
Not all laws in the Torah apply to everyone in the same manner. For example, women are naturally exempt from the law of circumcision, and men are exempt from the laws about childbirth. Some laws are mandatory for everyone, such...