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Intro:
Several months ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with a dear friend of mine who I have known for over 12 years. Although our relationship started out as a family friendship it eventually led to our family attending their church – he is a pastor.

We were called out of the church about 3 ½ years ago to start an incredibly exciting journey which will not end – and actually seems like it only just began. I had recently been trying to share with him the truths that G-d had revealed to us over this short time by extending an invitation to attend a study in our home but he declined.

He did, however, accept an invitation to lunch to celebrate his birthday – as is our custom. I had intended to discuss, at least to some degree, our recent experiences and encourage him to look further and find the truth that has been covered from “our” eyes for nearly two thousand years. “G-d is calling His people back to Torah”….this most excellent news was answered with grave concern spread across his face. My friend’s concern was primarily regarding my relationship with Jesus Christ and I assured him that this was not a salvation issue but a sanctification issue.

He agreed to continue a discussion over email exchange as best that our schedules would allow…and so begins what I would like to share with you: “Thoughts from lunch”. This will be a short series of exchanges (there is a total of 2 emails from him and 2 responses from me) between the two of us that I have found challenging. I will post his emails for your review and practice on how you may have responded. Every few days I will post the next exchange.

Below (the first email) is my friend responding to my explanation of how we are to live out our faith.

Email Subject: Thoughts from lunch (#1)

“Hey Brother, Thank you for the lunch. I am glad we had a chance to share our hearts with one another. We are family in Jesus Christ. I was concerned, however, about some of your statements about the new covenant and what it means to live under the new covenant. My concerns come from the Book of Hebrews, especially Hebrews 8:6-13, Hebrews 9:10, and Hebrews 10:9-10. Hebrews 8:13 uses the word obsolete in the NKJV. In Strong’s Concordance it is number 3822 in the dictionary in the back. The word means to make or become worn out, to declare obsolete. That is a strong statement about the old covenant. We can talk more after you study it out. Thanks again for the lunch.”

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Sanctifying HaShem throughout our community is a more difficult concept than I had originally thought because of a line from this weeks’ parasha [portion], Ha’azinu. HaShem said to Moshe in Deuteronomy 32:51 that he would not enter the Land,“because you did not sanctify Me among the Children of Israel.” Consider who Moshe was. He wrote the Torah, he preformed many miracles, he spoke with HaShem “face to face”, he saw with his own eyes HaShem’s back; just to identify a few incredible experiences. Yet Moshe still made a mistake and did not sanctify HaShem.

Not a single person in this generation is as righteous as Moshe. He is one of the most revered men throughout the Tanach. So much so that our Moshiach is actually referred to as “a prophet like unto Moses.” The intention of this post is not to disrespect or belittle Moshe, Heaven forbid! The thought I am trying to convey is understanding the difficulty of sanctifying HaShem and how we need to constantly seek to draw closer to Him. If it was difficult in Moshe’s time to sanctify HaShem how much more difficult is it today. Society in general is filled with distractions, idols, and temptations. If you are content or complacent with your halachah [walk] then you are not sanctifying His Name. Sanctification is a daily process of living life in accordance with Torah and proclaiming HaShem’s holiness with thoughts, words, and deeds. It is because of His mercies that all of us awoke this morning to find Yom Kippur speedily approaching. He is holy and His Name is holy.

Sanctifying HaShem is difficult because it requires disregard for fleshly desires, pure thoughts, and a constant selfless attitude. Personally I am far from living how I know I must but each day is a step closer. He is worthy of all our praise and He deserves to be sanctified.

What are you personally doing to sanctify HaShem in your community with your life?

May this Yom Kippur motivate true teshuva [repentance] from sin.

“Seek the welfare of the city…and pray to G-d for it, for in its peace, you shall have peace.” – Jeremiah 29:7

This verse speaks to all of us across America. This verse is a call to action. In each city we live in, and in each town we have an obligation as citizens, Jew and Non-Jew alike, to heed the call. We should be asking several questions to ourselves and one another.

  1. What can we do to positively affect our community?
  2. How can we improve our local government?
  3. How can we increase support for Israel?
  4. How can we be a light of Torah and sanctify the name of HaShem in our community?

We must not let our society become passive. It is our responsibility as citizens to hold our government accountable and improve our standard of living. How have we come so far from our glorious beginnings? The answer may be summarized as laziness. I speak to myself as well as everyone else who expects to be taken care of, and expects the government to handle all our problems. Arise, you sleepers! Shake off your slumber. Start taking on an active role in the community and the local government. If you see a need, then fill a need. Do not expect the government to solve each problem. We all have special gifts and talents that we were graciously granted by HaShem for the purpose of glorifying His name and improving the world around us. Some may proclaim a lack of ability and creativity is what hinders his/her involvement. In this case, offer what you have. If you have hands and feet, then use them to volunteer time and strength for the good of the community. The simple act of cleaning up litter, planting trees, walking for charity can inspire and spark unity in your city/town. Some may claim a lack of time. Beware of time, as with money, becoming a primary focus and an idol. Remember who grants us time and seek to improve the community and government.

Local governments are equally as susceptible to corruption as state and national government. If accountability is not held by us then we leave the door of deviance wide open. Deviance from the Bible, from our Constitution, and ultimately from our well-being. A grave notion to consider is the absence of our political involvement equals a lack of troubles and trials. Does a tree produce fruit without working hands and the assistance of G-d? We cannot expect wholesome fruit from our government without individual participation of citizens and prayers for Divine wisdom. The inspiration of a nation begins with an individual.

To answer the initial question, “What can we do to positively affect our community?” Begin by supporting your community in various ways. Do not jump into politics without a thorough understanding of the community and solid knowledge of the city/town government system. Here are some ideas for becoming an active citizen.

  1. Planting trees.
  2. Walk for charity.
  3. Clean litter.
  4. Donate to non-profits.
  5. Host fund raising events.
  6. Educating yourself in local, state, and national politics. Know the views, intentions, and standing with Israel of key leaders.
  7. Voice your opinion. If you don’t agree with something than express it in writing, email, or by phone to the appropriate person.
  8. Host educational sessions to inform people of political situations.
  9. Begin educating your children and the youth in the community.

George Bush wrote to the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson : “Our nation’s moral tradition – indeed, the development of all Western civilization – has been deeply influenced by the laws and teachings contained in the Bible. It was a Biblical view of man, one affirming the dignity and worth of the human person made in the image of the Creator, that inspired the principles up on which the United States is founded.”

The inspired principles Former President Bush spoke of are disintegrating. The initial influence of the Bible on America is fading. Nevertheless, we are capable of individually reverting back to the morals and standards our nation was founded upon in hopes that communities, and local, state, and national governments will soon follow. The inspiration of a nation begins with an individual.

What are some other beneficial activities not listed?

What caused the divagation from America’s established principles?

Your thoughts are greatly encouraged.

by Tzadikguy

Today I was reading a chapter entitled “Responsibility” from the excellent book, Toward a Meaningful Life. In general, responsibility may be easily viewed as specific tasks assigned to us throughout our life. We are responsible for our grades in school, for our pets, for our money, for our car, etc..Often times a person’s responsibilities are selfish or materialistic, and they are quick to relieve themselves of responsibility when there is a problem.

Now, let us stop and take a look at life and the reason for living. Why has HaShem allowed us to wake up alive and healthy today? It is so that we may fulfill our responsibility as human beings. We are here to draw closer to HaShem and be a light to the nations. We are responsible for fulfilling our purpose by making the correct decisions. By considering the purpose of life, we are able to accurately understand our foundational responsibility. Once we have this understanding then our specific responsibilities become more focused and purposed on the most important things in life. If we are focused on personal gain, acceptance, happiness, or any other selfish desire then it will have a direct effect on what we perceive to be our responsibility. We are responsible for keeping Torah, being a light to those around us, influencing our community and society, and using our special gifts and talents to help and improve the world. Free-will is a gracious gift from HaShem. Will you chose to take responsibility and start making the right decisions?

Of course, the most important element is implementation and action. How can you take responsibility in your workplace? In your community? What are some good habits to develop to remind us of our purpose in life?

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