Monday, January 30, 2017

Names, Second Challah Cover in Process

Now these are the names of Bnei-Yisrael who came to Egypt with Jacob, each man with his family:  
Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;
Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
The souls that came out of the line of Jacob numbered 70 in all, while Joseph was already in Egypt.

---Exodus 1:1

As I spread out the 12 squares on the tatami mat and arrange them for my second challah cover, I think of this book we are in, which is Exodus, or Shemot, which is translated as `Names`...
It is the first time I have written the names (of the 12 sons of Israel)  in Hebrew.  It is exciting to learn the letters that go together to make each one. 

As  I look at the 12 squares all set out,  getting ready to embroider the letters onto the squares,
I think of our amazing Maker, the Creator of all things, and that He set out everything from the beginning. 

"For I know the plans that I have in mind for you, declares ADONAI, "plans for shalom and not calamity---to give you a future and a hope.

Then you will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me, when you will search for Me with all your heart.  Then I will be found by you," says ADONAI," and I will return you from exile, and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says ADONAI, and I will bring you back to the place from which I removed you as captives into exile."   ---Jeremiah 29:11~14

Please stay tuned as the challah cover continues.  I hope to have it done before we leave the book of Exodus.  Blessings and Shalom!  Shavu`a Tov!

This week`s Torah portion is Parshat Bo, Enter!
The readings are:
Exodus 10:1 ~13:16
Jeremiah 46:13~28 (Haftarah)
Romans 9:14~29 (Brit Chadashah)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Shabbat Story・シャバットの話 

シャバットの話  A bi-lingual post! English just below
「そうですか?いいですね。 私にも、安息日必要です!」 とAさんが言いました。 
Aさんとかれる時、私が 「シャバット・シャローム」と言いました。 
神様のシャローム は彼女の心にふれただろうか。



Friday, 1/27/2017
Remember Yom Shabbat, to keep it holy.    ---Exodus 20:8

A friend, who is also my English student, asked me what I will be doing today after the lesson.

It`s Friday, I said.  I will begin preparing for Shabbat.

Shabbat?  she asked.

Yes, I said, its a special day of rest from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
I told her how to say it in Japanese, 安息日 Ansoku nichi.
And told her a little about how it is the day God rested on the seventh day  after He created everything in six days and set apart the seventh day and made it a holy day and as a day of rest.

Oh! She said.
That sounds good.  I could use a day of rest.

Yes, I said, it is good.  God made Shabbat for people.  It is one of the Commandments given at Mount Sinai, it is the fourth one.   It is part of His design for us to have rest from the week and to start fresh again.  And I told her it is a time to worship and be with God as well as our family.

Just before she and I parted I said `Shabbat Shalom`.
She smiled.  She asked what it means.
I said Sabbath Peace.

Even just from the greeting and the little she know of Shabbat from our conversation, I sensed that God`s Shalom touched something in her heart.

Then she said to me the same words, Shabbat Shalom, and she made a sweet bow as she said it.

We both parted and went on our ways.

I am so excited for when the people of Japan will know ADONAI and will celebrate the Shabbat, and on Friday afternoons people will greet each other in the town with シャバット・シャローム ,
 Shabbat Shalom! As they scurry to buy food and flowers and prepare for Shabbat!

 Shabbat Shalom!!





Blessed is the one
who put his confidence in ADONAI,
who has not turned to the arrogant,
nor to those who fall into falsehood.
Many things You have done,

---Your plans for us are wonderful---
there is none to be compared to You!

--Psalm 40:4~6

Friday, January 27, 2017

Shabbat Shalom

Come my beloved to meet the bride--
The Sabbath presence, let us welcome!

---from Lechah Dodi, a beautiful and inspiring Sabbath song

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Va`era--and I appeared

Psalm 36:6

Your love, ADONAI, is in the heavens,
Your faithfulness up to the skies.

God is so beautiful and beyond words, He is worthy of our Praise beyond words and even beyond how much ever we could praise Him.  Look how Full of Love He is. 
Something special is happening.*

I wrote that the other day, I can`t remember exactly what the context was, but it was something in response to learning new things about God in these new weeks of the Exodus (Shemot, which means Names in Hebrew) Torah portions.  This weeks Parsha is VaEra--which translates as, `and I appeared.'

In the first book of Genesis, God lays the foundations as he created the world and all that is in it, brings in the people and we get to know of His promises.  The forefathers never get to see the fulfillment of the promises in their earthly lifetimes, but they live their lives in great Faith in the God who gave them.  Then in the book of Exodus, the forefathers and the 12 sons of Jacob have died, but their descendants live on and are increasingly numerous and filling the land of Egypt.  Remember the promise, the descendants of Abraham would be countless as the number of stars!! Already there is a sense of the countless number and the promises from the beginning being carried out as set forth in the first chapter of Exodus. God prepares to bring the Children of Israel, led by Moses, out of slavery and out of Egypt so they may worship Him.

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am ADONAI."

--from the start of this weeks Parsha Va`era, Exodus 6:2

As we read the Torah together with people all over the world who are reading the same portions the same weeks, I start to feel the presence of God, up in the Heavens, and also  here to meet us and reveal new things about who He is in each reading.  Why do people read the Torah and the exact same portions year after year?? Because God is a living God and there is always new revelation.   His Word is alive.  We are changing and hopefully becoming more and more open to new revelations in them each time we read them.  He stays the same, just waiting for us to draw near to Him and to desire to know Him more.

I will instruct you and teach you 
in the way you should go. 

---Psalm 32:8

 When I saw the cloud front and center above the road, it was coming closer to me, and then poof! a few seconds after I took this photo, it separated。。。 like a fluffy challah! Then the two halves receded right and left, leaving again a clear expanse of sky.  When when we glimpse that God is there, here, in our midst, the Maker of creation, it sometimes seems as if He even moves His creation closer to us, as He asks us to notice, to keep our paths straight, and to live by His word.

PS did anyone else notice?  I just noticed that the shape of this cloud loosely resembles a challah!

I hope you might like to join in reading the weekly parsha!!
You can find the list of weekly readings,   here
You will see that as you start your heart will become lighter, your soul will be lifted, and the heavens will seem closer than they did before!!

Blessings and Shalom!!

Show me your ways, ADONAI.
Teach me your paths.
Guide me in Your truth, and teach me,
for You are God, my salvation, for You I wait all day.

---Psalm 25:4

Friday, January 20, 2017

Parashat Shemot, Haftarah

In days to come Jacob will take root,
Israel will blossom and bud and fill
the face of the world with fruit.

---Isaiah 27:6
(from this weeks Haftarah Portion in Parashat Shemot)

Parashat Shemot, Burning Bush, Daffodils and Ume Tree

Then Joseph died, as did all his brothers and that generation.  Yet Bnei-Yisrael were fruitful, increased abundantly, multiplied and grew extremely numerous---so the land was filled with them.
---Exodus 1:6~7

In this weeks Parshat Shemot, oh my goodness there is so much happening, as the world shifts from Genesis and the story of the sons of Jacob, ending where Joseph saved the nations as ruler of Egypt next to Pharoah,  to the next book of Shemot (Exodus),  where the ruler of Egypt no longer `remembers` all that Joseph did and decides there are just too many of the Children of Israel in Egypt, and he makes them all to become slaves and attempts to wipe them out by drowning all the male babies.  It gets pretty terrible.

But enter Moses.  In this weeks parshat Moses is born.  He is ordered to die along with all the male babies of the Children of Israel.  But as we know, he doesn`t die, he is hidden by his mother. (see Exodus 2:1~4)
Then after three months she  set him in a basket on the Nile and it is seen and found by Pharoah`s daughter and the child, Moses, is  raised in the palace of Pharoah until he grows up and discovers the injustice done to his people.  He noticed a Hebrew, one of his own people, was being beaten by an Egyptian.  He kills the Egyptian, and when he realizes his deed had become known, he flees to Midian.

In this weeks parshat Moses also meets and is chosen by ADONAI to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt.  Their first encounter occurs at the sight of a burning bush.  Moses notices it, he sees that it is on fire but is not burnt.
When ADONAI saw that he turned to look, He called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!"  
So he answered, "Hineni.*" 

---Exodus 3:4

*Hineni=`Here I am",  answering a call 

Scene switch, to Friday afternoon in my life.  A flower shop in Oita.  When I went to buy flowers for the Shabbat I looked into the case and wanted to get flowers that would somehow express the burning bush, as this image and encounter stood out so strong in the parsha.  Maybe something orange, or fiery looking.  Something noticable, and light like a flame.

The flowers that caught my eye in the case were the daffodils.  Although daffodils are not the dramatic flower I envisioned, when I saw the colors they were bursting with light and passion, and the center orange was burning flame inside the yellow petals.  There were also branches of cherry blossoms in the shop that day, the first of this year! So I had an inspiration that if the daffodils were in front of the branches, the branches could be like the bush and the flowers like the fire.

It also expresses somehow the literal `season` we are in, approaching spring where the bushes are still not yet full of the flowers, so the daffodils seem to `ignite` the expectant branches making it like they could represent the consuming fire.

So that is what I chose! Then on the way home I passed the budding ume (ume = Plum tree.  I took out the daffodils and did a little photo shoot with them.  Then some women who were walking their dogs stopped and liked the way I was posing the bright flowers in front of the almost blossoming, expectant ume tree.  We chatted a little about the plum blossoms (ume no hana) and how they are earlier than cherry blossoms (sakura) and they showed me how the ume, plum blossom, petals are different from cherry blossoms.   I told them when I first came to Japan it was hard to tell what is different between  ume blossom and cherry blossom.  Now I have come to know and especially since the ume blossoms bloom earlier, it is easy to know which are ume.

The sun was getting lower in the sky so I had to hurry back to light the Shabbat candles before sundown.

Again I imagined the burning bush and Moses` encounter with ADONAI, and where God says to Moses to tell the Children of Israel his name is `I AM WHO I AM` (Exodus 3:14)/

Moses, who should very well have drowned in the Nile with all the other boy Hebrew children, didn`t drown.  He was taken from the water---it says in the parsha that his name means drawn from water---years later meets God in an encounter with fire, and then is lead by God to bring His people to freedom through water!!!  What a mighty God we serve!  What a dramatic encounter between Moses and the Burning Bush.   It is a good time to remember how our first encounter with God was, how did he approach each of us?  Or if you haven`t yet encountered Him in your life, it is good to read this parsha to see what happens in that life changing and world changing encounter, how Moses turned to look, and how when God called Moses` name he responded right away with `Hineni`, Here I am.  In addition to all the great meanings and interpretations of this parsha on the grand scale, I think this scene also has this lesson in our lives about looking, turning to see,  keeping our eyes open to meet God in even the most unexpected places. And to notice if something that is getting our attention might just be the Great I AM asking us to notice, to draw closer , to turn to look at Him and to listen to what it is He has in purpose for us.

Blessings and Shabbat Shalom!!

Therefore, thus says ADONAI,
Redeemer of Abraham,
concerning the house of Jacob:
"Jacob will no longer be ashamed,
no longer will his face grow pale;
for when he sees his children,
the work of My hands in his midst,
they will sanctify My Name:
They will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob,
and stand in awe of the God of Israel.

---Isaiah 29:22~23
(from this weeks Haftarah portion for Parsha Shemot)

For the full list of readings, see, Weekly Readings link on the right sidebar.
For the Whole Wheat Challah recipe, see my favorite Challah links on the right sidebar.
Blessings and Shabbat Shalom!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Shabbat Adventure

So the heavens and the earth were completed along with their entire array.  God completed---on the seventh day--His work that He made, and He ceased---on the seventh day---from all His work that He made.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it He ceased from all His work that God created for the purpose of preparing.   ---Genesis 2:1~3

   The clouds seemed so close. 
Blowing a sound to announce this day
I rode on my bicycle around the bay, one (cloud!) 
landed on the tip.  The shofar sounding
shaped a ship
delight in the Shabbat.

Blessed are the people
who know the joyful shout,
They walk in the light of Your presence,
ADONAI.       ---Psalm 89:16
To be continued...

Challah at the Cornerstone

As newborn babes, long for pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow toward salvation---now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house---a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua.  For it says in Scripture, 

"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone,
a chosen, precious cornerstone.
Whoever trusts in Him
will never be put to shame."

--1 Peter: 2~6, cf. Isaiah 28:16

Sometimes I just have to take a challah outside and take a photograph.  This time Jacob`s blessing to Joseph with the words about God as the Shepherd and Stone, and daughters walking along the walls inspired me to take a picture of  the challah at the cornerstone.  It was also another way to express the connection between Joseph to  Yeshua, the Cornerstone,  foundation and Bread of life.  It was exciting to walk along the walls on a windy yet clear brisk morning, and connect to the words, thinking of the blessing,  as I tried to set up the picture.  With the wind, it was a little hard to get the challah to stay upright for the pose, and I had to move quickly, but I was able to get a few pictures at the spot.

I also discovered that Cherry Blossoms tenugui make a very good challah cover.  The long narrow rectangle shape cloth is perfect for challah.  Tenugui are Japanese hand towels, also used for wrapping gifts or `o-bento` (lunch boxes), and even for decorative hangings.  They come in all different seasonal patterns and I couldn`t resist the cherry blossoms designs in this season as we approach the coming of spring.  Expectation in the air.

Blessings and stay tuned for a few more posts from this week, a little more adventure with the challah and sharing the Bread of Life this Shabbat!!!

A fruitful son is Joseph,
a fruitful son beside a spring--
daughters walk along a wall.
The archers were bitter and shot arrows
and were hostile towards him.
Yet his bow was always filled, 
and his arms quick-moving---
by the hands of the Mighty One
of Jacob.
From there a Shepherd,
the Stone of Israel,
from the God of your father
who helps you,
and Shadddai who blesses you,
with blessings of heavens above,
blessings of the deep that lies below,
blessings of breasts and womb.

---Genesis 49:22~25, from Jacob`s blessing to Joseph

Friday, January 13, 2017

12 Blessings, 12 Strands, Parshat Vayechi

 In this parsha there are the 12 blessings that Jacob gives to his sons.  Each strand in the challah is for each of the brothers as we come to end of the book of Genesis.   While I made the challah , I listened to the blessings in Hebrew, from chapter 49,  while making the braids...  You can listen here.  I can`t understand the words as I am just starting to study Hebrew.  But you can pick up the names of the tribes, and follow along in the English alongside the Hebrew on the page Here.  So even if you don`t understand the words, it is my Parsha Vayechi recommendation to try it and then to read the blessings which are so beautiful and especially in light of knowing that just after He blesses His sons, Jacob `breathed his last and was gathered to his peoples.`And Joseph too comes to the end of his life in this parsha. 

   And please try some of the Challah too!  I look forward to celebrate Shabbat with you!!

 Wishing you many blessings and a light-filled Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom!

♪Of David.
ADONAI is my light and my salvation...

One thing have I asked of ADONAI,
that will I seek:
to dwell in the House of ADONAI all the days of my life, 
to behold the beauty of ADONAI, 
and to meditate in His Temple.

---Psalm 27:1,4

 May the LORD bless you and keep you, and shine His face upon you. Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ending the Beginning, and my Second Challah Cover begins!

These are the tribes of Israel, twelve in all, and this is what their father spoke to them.  He blessed them, each one he blessed with a suitable blessing.  ---Genesis 49:28

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says ADONAI Elohim, "Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty!"   ---Revelation 1:8

Amazing in the Parsahat cycle we are already finishing the last reading from the book of Genesis this coming Shabbat and going into Exodus after that.  Like the end of each Shabbat, its a little sad coming to the end of the readings of one book.  But at the same time a new one begins, and the cycle keeps on going.

And as we go from Genesis to Exodus,  I will start the second challah cover!!

The inspiration for this challah cover is the twelve sons of Jacob.  I started by laying out the squares to represent the twelve sons, the twelve tribes of Israel.

 In Genesis God created the heavens and earth and filled them with plants and trees and all the living creatures and the people, from Adam to Jacob and his sons.   God plans and purposes and lays everything out from the beginning.  If we skip ahead to the end, i.e. Revelation, the end of the whole book, and a new beginning,  there is the most beautiful description of the New Jerusalem, where each of the 12 gates of the city are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Bnei-Yisrael
On the gates were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Bnei-Yisrael---three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.  ---Revelation 21:12~13.  As well as the twelve names of the the twelve emissaries of the Lamb on the foundations of the city walls.           Then the twelve names of the twelve emissaries of the Lamb are written on the twelve foundations of the walls of the city.  ---Revelation 21:14

The foundations of the Jewish people and tribes of Israel were set up in the book of Genesis.  All the way into Revelation the foundations of the city wall are decorated with every kind of precious stone, which are reminiscient of the twelve precious stones representing the twelve tribes that we will soon see in Exodus in the breastplate of Aaron.    To read about the precious stones on the foundations and the pearls on the gates of the New Jerusalem, and description of the streets of the city as pure as gold, please continue reading in the book of Revelation, from 21:15.

I am just starting the challah cover, it begins where the first challah cover left off! As that one expressed the Life of Sarah and went through the generations to Isaac, this one continues with the generations of Jacob, Joseph.  Who are the twelve tribes that are so precious in God`s heart and plan? In the parsha this week there is the special blessings by Jacob for each of his twelve sons before he dies. 

A fruitful son is Joseph,
a fruitful son beside a spring---
daughters walk along a wall.  
                     ---the first lines of Jacob`s blessing to Joseph, Genesis 49:22

To be continued....

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

He`s Alive!

Today was a day of fasting on the Jewish Calendar, Tevet 10.  You can read about it HERE.  I just wanted to mention how the year`s parashiot (Torah Readings) and the feast days--which includes fast days-- are arranged to go together.  Our Messiah Yeshua himself read the readings on this same timing, on  Shabbat in the synagogues, though I am not sure if in His time it was on a three year cycle of the reading or one year like we do today, but in either case we see Him in the Scriptures reading on this very cycle of Parashiot that continues year after year today!!   

This fast day of repentance commemorates the the seige leading to the destruction of the second Temple of Jerusalem.  It falls in the middle of the Parashiot readings about Joseph, and his brothers repentance.  If we take the time to do these observances, there is so much spoken through them. It is my first year to do many of the observances, so I am by no means an expert, but I just want to share  some of the things that were on my heart while learning about the Tevet 10 this first time, and how it relates again to the parshat and readings and in our lives.

In the parshat, Joseph just revealed himself to his brothers.  Just imagine their hearts that for all these years.   They knew and were keeping inside the terrible thing they did by trying to kill and sell their own brother.  This thing they lived with all these years, and then they meet Joseph who is not only alive but is King over all Egypt and the world at that time, and who is the one who will save the family and nations.  Now finally it is their time to repent.

Now skip to today, on this day of Tevet 10.  It is very beautiful to have this day of fasting.  Even though I didn`t know anyone personally who was observing it, I wanted to join in my heart with the Jewish people on this day, in this year for me of `teshuva` , which means `return` to God.  It is a time to seek forgiveness for the days of the second Temple when Jewish people were assimilating and not keeping their ways and focus on ADONAI.  It is also a time to remember the death of Ezra the Scribe, and other occasions in Jewish history.  I learned also that in recent times, 10 Tevet also became the day to say kaddish for the victims of the Holocaust, for many of whom the day of martyrdom is unknown (reference link to article about 10 Tevet).   It is a day of prayer and repentance world wide. 

On this day I also think about how many Jewish people still do not know that the Messiah we are waiting for has come.   When Messiah Yeshua reveals himself to the Jewish people, how will we receive Him in our hearts?  We have a chance to understand the great feelings of remorse and repentance, and the overwhelming joy,  that we as a people will have when we see, like Joseph`s brothers did, that our Messiah is alive! He has been all along, and is coming back as King of all the World.

Like Joseph whose identity on the outside was changed, and his brothers don`t recognize him until the time he reveals itself, can we see this as the same with our Messiah Yeshua.  In Paul Wilbur`s book, Touching the Heart of God, he gives an example from the life of Joseph.  When Joseph`s brothers came to Egypt before Joseph to buy grain...not one of them recognized him! Why?  Because he looked like an Egyptian, he dressed like an Egyptian...He was called by an Egyptian name, and he even spoke to them by way of an interpreter...because he was so carefully removed and completely absorbed, Joseph was unrecognizable for who he truly was.  Paul Wilbur goes on to make the connection to Yeshua, who too a prince among His people, but because He has been so carefully and methodically removed from His land and culture, He is unrecognizable by His own brothers (the Hebrews) as the Jewish Messiah.  His name has been changed; even His culture and clothing have been changed.  (quoted from `Touching the Heart of God, Embracing the Calendar of the Kingdom, Paul Wilbur, pages 82~83.  Read more in the book you can find HERE!)

I grew up Jewish and never even knew that Jesus Christ was Jewish, or that he was even considered as a candidate for the Messiah.  It was as if He didn`t exist as far as our Jewish education was concerned.  So when He revealed Himself to me, a Jewish girl from Long Island all the way here in Japan, it was indeed a great Miracle, a great surprise surpassing anything I ever imagined,  and a great joy.

 If the Jewish people knew that the one we are awaiting, our Jewish Messiah the Prince of Peace and Salvation of the World, Yeshua, His name itself means Salvation, has come, how do we prepare our hearts for our great repentance, and at the same time joyous and over-joyous news that our Messiah has come!

On this day of repentance on the 10th day of Tevet, I pray that Jewish people around the world will seek deeply in our hearts and repent and receive the Good News that indeed our brother and Saviour Yeshua is alive. He is not only our Messiah, but Saviour of the World, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  He is the one who gives us bread in times of plenty and in times of famine.  He is the Bread of Life.  And He is coming again.  May we recognize Him, embrace Him, and may we come to Him humble and with repentant hearts, and receive the bread He has stored up for us in times of our (spiritual) famine, and receive His abundance of Truth and eternal Life.

When  Joseph`s brothers showed the great fear they had of that Joseph was holding anger towards them all these years, what does Joseph say?

He told them not to be afraid, and that even though they themselves planned evil against him, "God planned it for good, in order to bring about what it is this day---to preserve the lives of many people".  (from Genesis 50:30) 

We know all too well Yeshua`s amazing last words on the cross where he asks that his `brothers` and those who planned evil against him, be forgiven.   Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.  ---Luke 23:34

May we let down our defenses that we have built up in our hearts; may we seek forgiveness and receive His Salvation as we eagerly await and pray for all Israel be Saved, and for all  to become one in Messiah Yeshua!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gimel  ג     
Do good to Your servant
that I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, so I may behold
wonders from Your Torah.
I am a temporary dweller on earth---do not hide
Your mitzvot from me.

----Psalm 119:17~19 TLV

Delight in the Torah of ADONAI in 2017 and forever more!!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Challah and Plum Blossoms and Blessing

את צמח דוד עבדך מהרה תצמיח וקרנו תרומ בישועתך כי לישועתך קוינו כל היום
ברוך אתה יהוה מצמיח קרן ישועה      

'et tse-mach da-vid 'av-de-kha me-he-rah tats-mi-ach ve-qar-no ta-rum bi-shu'a-te-kha ki li-shu-'at-kha qi-vi-nu kol hai-yom ba-rukh 'at-tah 'Adonai mats-mi-ach qe-ren ye-shu-'ah

May the offspring of David Thy servant flourish speedily and may You exalt in Your salvation.  For in your salvation do we hope all the day.  Blessed are You, Lord, Who makes the seeds of our salvation grow.
---Blessing Fifteen, Kingdom of David, from The Shemoneh Esreh prayer

 Shavu`a Tov! Have a great week!!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Vegan Challah, two braids become one in Parsha VaYigash

Then they went up from Egypt and came to the land of Canaan, to Jacob their father.  They told him saying, "Joseph is still alive and he is ruler of the whole land of Egypt!"  --Genesis 45:25~26
This weeks parsha is Parsha Vayigash.  And he drew near...

  Because it is still the years of famine in the parsha (and perhaps spiritually in our world too?!), for this first Challah of the New Year,  I decided to make a Vegan Challah!

Also as we just came out of many days of feasting, both for Chanukah (see many posts below!) and New Years (see many posts below!),  it seemed fitting to make a simple challah for this week.  This recipe is for a challah without eggs or dairy, it`s focus is on the grain.

 The taste is natural and delicious, and reminds us of the true blessing it is to have bread.  We give thanks to our Maker who is the provider of the bread from the earth, and of all things and who sanctifies the Sabbath Day and makes it Holy.

And Joseph supported his father and his brothers and his father`s entire household with food for the mouths of the little ones.   ---Genesis 46:12

on starting the new year...simple...and with a childlike heart!

I`ve said it over and over in these past few months of posts, and will say it again here!
Returning to the Father and to the feasts and to this first year of reading the weekly Torah portions has made me feel like a child in many ways!

Of course, Hannukah brought that out a lot with the dreidel game, songs, lighting the menorah for the first time since being a child, and the pure oily happiness that moistened my heart and soul!!!

Some people think following God`s commandments and reading His Torah sounds like a chore and a burden, but really it is a wonderful and amazing time to get to closer to Him, to do something that is pleasing in His eyes, and to open our hearts to knowing how He plans and purposes all of creation.  It is `His Story` and because it is ours too, studying the Torah is the very way that we can begin to understand our purpose and how we can live our lives and return to His divine plans, to live out our parts as per the instructions in His great plan for Salvation and Redemption.  Halleluyah!!

Like an extra treat to add to the childlike joy, I just found parsha songs on a Chabad study site for  kids!  You can click on ♪HERE♪♪at to listen , and to get an idea from the simple lyrics  of what the highlights of this weeks parsha are!  They are also good to listen to if you have children or if you teach or study together with children or the young at heart! ♪♬Chorus: "I am Yosef, is my father still alive?
Ani Yosef, haod avi chai?"♪♬

back to this week and the parsha and the challah!

 In this week`s reading, Joseph re-unites with his father Jacob.   Can you imagine what a poignant moment that was! All these years Jacob thought his beloved son had died, not knowing that Joseph`s brothers sold him as a slave and that he was still alive.  As the years went on and Joseph became ruler in Egypt alongside Pharoah,  Joseph  too didn`t know if his aging father was still alive.  This song captures a feeling of joy when they both find out that each other is alive!

Yeshua says we have to be like children to enter the Kingdom of God.  May we let our hearts soften and let God`s love in in all ways in this New Year!! If you are reading this and are becoming curious about reading the parshashiot, that is wonderful, I`m so glad to hear that, and I do hope you might even make it your resolution this year to start reading Torah!! Praise God!! The list of weekly readings is here, and also located on the sidebar at right, so you can always check to see where the reading is for each week.

In these photos below, you can see how the challah also came to express something else---it ties in with the Haftarah portion this week, where Ezekiel is told by God to prophesize over two sticks, one `For Judah`, and one `For Joseph`, representing all the children of Israel, to become one.
When making this challah, you first make two braided pieces, one bigger and one smaller, and then you put them together and they become one when the loaf bakes.  Interestingly, I am just realizing even that parallels, as the one braid is made from a larger portion of the dough , and joins with a smaller braid, like the ten tribes of the North joining with the two of the South!  
In this new year too, may the divisions in all God`s people breakdown, and may we all become one in Messiah Yeshua!

Shabbat Shalom!!

The word of ADONAI came to me saying:
You, son of man, take one stick and write on it, `For Judah`--for Bnei-Yisrael joined with him.  Then take another stick and write on it, `For Joseph`--the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel joined with him.  Join them one to another for yourself, as one stick, so they may become one in your hand.

---Ezekiel 37:15~17

two braids become one in this weeks Challah for the Parsha Vayigash

They will no longer be two nations and never again be divided into two kingdoms.

--Ezekiel  37:22

I will cut a covenant of shalom with them---it will be an everlasting covenant with them.  I will give to them and multiply them.  I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling-place will be over them.  I will be their God and they will be My people.  Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.

--Ezekiel 37: 26 ~28

Shabbat Shalom!!

photo here, caption and link to recipe: I  love egg challah, but tried this in keeping with the parsha to do without something, and keep it simple without the eggs.  It can be the challah of choice if people who are vegan come to a Shabbat dinner.  This year one of my resolutions is to share Shabbat with more people! Or you can make this challah simply to keep it simple in the New Year, or after times of feast and plenty. You can find the recipe HERE.

Winter Mt. Fuji and Challah clouds--Shabbat Shalom!!

A prayer of Moses the man of God.
My Lord, You have been our dwelling 
from generation to generation.
Before the mountains were born,
or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
even from everlasting to everlasting,
You are God!

---Psalm 90: 1 ~ 2

Shabbat Shalom!