An Invitation to Give

I’m writing this while watching the snow falling on Jerusalem. Jerusalem dressed in white is a reminder of the bride dressed in white waiting for the bridegroom to come for the wedding. The reading this Shabbat is very special.

The Shabbat just prior to the feast of Purim is called the “Shabbat of Remembrance” (in Hebrew, Shabbat “Zachor”). The reason for this special reading is the command in the book of Esther and in the Torah to remember the Amalekites and what they did to Israel during their forty years of wandering in the Sinai wilderness on the way to the land of Canaan.

The Torah reading is from Exodus 25:1 – 27:19. From the prophets the reading is from 1 Kings 5:12 – 6:13, and the reading from the New Testament is from Hebrews 9:1-10. The special reading for Shabbat of Remembrance is from Deuteronomy 25:17-19.

“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore, it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.” – Deuteronomy 25:17-19 [NKJV]

This text is considered a command from God to all of the generations of the people of Israel. I think that it is a wonderful command. I realize that many Christians will think that it a terrible thing to remember something from that long ago. We are commanded to forgive and forget!

This is true, but we are to forgive and forget those who have stopped the terrorism and the hate and the bloodshed and have at least confessed that they did something that is wrong and bad. The best example of this that I still remember from the early 1950’s is when the Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, came to Jerusalem and addressed the Israeli Parliament (The Knesset) confessing and repenting in the name of the German nation for what Germany did in the Holocaust.

The repentance of Germany was accompanied by action. Diplomatic relations were established, the German Embassy was opened in Israel and an Israeli embassy was setup in Bonn. In spite of all of the terrible horrors that were perpetrated against the Jewish nation, forgiveness and reconciliation took place between Germany and Israel.

Amalek never stopped the hate and the desire to wipe out the Jewish nation and even in the Bible itself we find many hundreds years later, a descendent of Agog the king of Amalek, whom King Saul spared and Samuel came and delivered Agog from his head, and King Saul lost his crown and his kingship and the favor of the Lord, because he spared the Amalekite, and didn’t obey God’s command.

I can say this with confidence. The Jewish people have a good memory, especially when it comes to history. We remember our enemies and make sure that they don’t get a second chance to kill to terrorize and to damage our people. We also never forget those who blessed us and have done good to our people.

A good example of these two traits of our nation is the Yad Vashem Museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. In these museums there are memorials and documentation of the horrors of the Nazi holocaust, and in the same places there is a memorial and honor for the tens of thousands of Christians throughout Europe and even from Japan and China, who endangered themselves to save Jews from the hands of the Nazis and the death camps that were spread throughout Europe all the way deep into Eastern Europe. There is a tree planted for each one of the Gentiles who saved even one Jew, and many of these who are called “Righteous from among the Gentiles,” received a lifetime financial pension, besides the medal and the honor of a memorial in their name.

In the case of the Amalekites, we are actually commanded by God to remember and not to forget. I realize that this is an unusual command, but none the less it is a divine command that it is wise and right for us to remember the command and to remember the Amalekites who were so cruel and so hard on Israel during their forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert.

There are other things that are important in the Torah reading of this Shabbat. The name of the portion is called Parashat Terumah. This is from the beginning of the Torah reading:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.’” – Exodus 25:1-7 [NKJV]

This text is the basic text that Paul is basing his command and request for the disciples of Yeshua in the diaspora (Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome) to make contributions for the saints in Jerusalem. All of Paul’s letters have the command and the encouragement to make collections and contributions.

In other words, the Apostle Paul is writing his letters to the churches to deal with problems and theological issues but also for fundraising. Each one of his letters has that element of fundraising, of giving “offerings” (“gifts, contributions, collection”).

Let me just give you a few examples of this because most Christians and even pastors don’t realize this and resort to going to the Old Testament and teach that Christians ought to be giving a “tithe” (10 percent of their income).

This teaching in Christianity is a part of the replacement theology of the Catholic Church. They rejected the Torah and the prophets, but they kept the 10 percent and demanded it from their parishioners with impunity. In some of the old Catholic churches in Europe, even in Finland, you see the paintings on the walls of the church where people who didn’t put the money in the collection bag would be hit on the head with the long wooden poll that held the bag at its end.

The teaching of giving by the apostles in the New Testament is based on this week’s Torah portion: “they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

“For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.” – Romans 15:26-27 [NKJV]

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.” – 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 [NKJV]

“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 [NKJV]

These are just a few of the examples from the Apostle Paul’s letters where he encourages the churches to make a contribution (an offering) for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Paul bases his command and suggestion on this Shabbat’s Torah reading from Parashat Terumah.

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.