There are very few things in life that we, the human race can claim a new beginning. For the Jewish communities around the world, every year around this season, there is a new beginning.
We finish the cycle of reading the Torah (The Law of Moses) from beginning to end. We read a portion that is decided by a long tradition that precedes the time of Yeshua and the apostles.
Here are some examples from the New Testament:
“But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, ‘Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.’” — Acts 13:14,15 [NKJV]
“For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” — Acts 15:21 [NKJV]
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” — Luke 4:16-21 [NKJV]
This last Sabbath all around the world the Jews in the synagogues read the last portion of the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapters 33-34, Vezot HaBracha (“this is the blessing”). Just as soon the last reading of the scroll of the Five Books of Moses was finished, it was rolled back to the beginning of the Torah — to the book of Genesis.
And the first Torah portion of Genesis will be read this Shabbat, October 22, 2022. We have a new beginning every year where we read the last words of the Torah from Deuteronomy and immediately start over from the beginning in Genesis.
There are few things that fascinate me over and over again: how is it that the majority of Christians have developed such a negative attitude against the Torah? When we in Netivyah purchased a Torah scroll and started to read from it every Shabbat, the so-called Messianic congregations in Israel went ballistic.
There was an article written by one of the missionaries in Jerusalem that we, the members of Netivyah and the Ro’eh Israel (“Shepherd of Israel”) congregation in Jerusalem have started to worship an idol, and are guilty of idolatry, because some people kiss the Torah scroll. There was total defamation against us in Netivyah and against the Torah. Statements like “The have gone under the Torah”, “They believe that the Torah will save them!”
It was said almost unanimously against us, that we have lost the grace of God, and that we are Judiazing. These missionaries and some so-called Messianic Jews didn’t know that you can’t Judiaze a Jew.
Things got even worse when we started to keep and celebrate other biblical seasons like the Feast of Sukkot, and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement). I praise the Lord that things have changed, and that now there are several Messianic congregations that have Torah scrolls, and read on Shabbat the Torah portions, and from the prophets and the New Testament, just like we have been doing for 30 years or longer.
The reading of the Torah in the congregations is so very important for the following reasons:
- There is an ignorance of the Torah and the Old Testament among Christians, and even among many pastors and missionaries.
- Very few believers in the world, including pastors, have actually read the Old Testament from the beginning to the end. When you attend a synagogue every Shabbat, you will hear the reading of the Torah and from the prophets, and connect the two readings to see the bigger picture of God’s revelation.
- We are Jews, the apostles were all Jews, Yeshua is the King of the Jews. Why should we worship like strangers to the Torah, the prophets, and the writings? What should we reject the very same tradition and practice of Yeshua Himself and the apostles themselves, and adopt an allergic reaction of an attitude that wants to alienate us from the very source of our faith, the Torah, and the prophets, and the writings — the Tanach!
Yes, many of our Christian brothers in Europe and around the world have understood, repented, and are changing. There is teaching going out of Israel to the ends of the world both in person and by Zoom, and so many Christians in all seven continents are hungry to know more about the biblical traditions that were practiced by the early disciples of Yeshua in the land of Israel. Some are adopting the reading of the Torah and the practices of the early church as we read about it from the Word of God in the Gospels and epistles of the apostles.
- It is important for the Jewish disciples of Yeshua in Israel and around the world to show that they didn’t stop being Jewish, and that faith in Yeshua is also faith in Moses and the prophets of God in Israel, and not a rejection of the Torah and the prophets.
Now about the Torah portion of Genesis 1:1-6:8. This portion is one of the most important and fundamental texts for all believers in God and the Bible. Here are some of the key points that we all ought to adopt and understand, that the most fundamental truths on which we base our faith in God come from this first Torah portion that will be read in every synagogue around the world.
Here are the highlights that I consider fundamental for our faith in God and in Yeshua:
- God is above and outside of the world that He created. Just like any artist that creates a great work of art, or not-so-great work of art. The artist is the creator, and although his fingerprints are on his work, he, the artist, is outside his art, and he can create more art and more paintings. Each will have his fingerprints. He owns his work, but can exist outside of his work. He is reflected in his work, but his work will never be the totality of his existence.
- Like the work of every artist, God’s creation of man is unique and different from the rest of the living creatures in the world that God created. The human being has the image and the nature (characteristics) of the Creator. The human being was created with memory, imagination, and the ability to create and invent.
- The human has a soul and a spirit. The human soul is eternal and will be judged on the day of judgment for eternity.
- Like all mammals, human being have babies and procreate and have families that have responsibilities for the future preservations of their families.
- The human being can sin and rebel against his creator, and make decisions that are fundamentally based on the freedom to obey or disobey his Heavenly Father.
The first chapters of Genesis have in them embedded all the wonderful and all the horrible things that human history has demonstrated to be true, and all the challenges that humans face from the dawn of history to the end of this world and the creation of the New Earth and the New Heaven.
The reading of the first chapters of Genesis also has the basic Messianic principles:
- The victory of the Son of Man over the primeval snake:
“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” — Genesis 3:15 [NKJV]
- The prediction that God can and did create a human being without a father and mother, and Adam has a genealogy:
“This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.” — Genesis 5:1,2 [NKJV]
- The reading of Genesis 1-6 is also a demonstration of the ability and possibility of the Creator to create and destroy the world that He created. The story of the flood is a living demonstration of that ability of the Creator to save and rebuild the world of His creation, and the destiny and future of God’s creation, of this world, is in the righteousness of God. And in the relationship of God and His creation, mankind’s righteousness or sin will decide the future of God’s creation and of this Earth.
- The first chapters of Genesis also reveal to all the generations of mankind that a man and a woman are the essential molecules of the survival and future of humanity. This is how God created this star called Earth, that surrounds the sun, and waits for its redemption.
The Torah portion of Genesis 1:1-6:8 has all the essential information of God’s love and God’s judgment of the world that He created. Genesis has the fall and the redemption of mankind and this Earth.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.