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Tuesday Prayer Minyan and Messianic Jewish Institute

December 28, 2010 by  
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TUESDAY PRAYER MINYAN AND MESSIANIC JEWISH INSTITUTE Winter break Dec 21-Jan 4.  New 12-week course starting Jan. 4, 7pm, $60 fee, Messianic Prophecy.  Come learn about the amazing predictions in Tenakh about the coming of Mashiach!


Know whom before you stand.

Know whom before you stand.

Reading The Torah

June 19, 2009 by  
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Rosh Hashanah

May 8, 2009 by  
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Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game.

There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making “resolutions.” Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. More on this concept at Days of Awe.

The name “Rosh Hashanah” is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

The shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, “big tekiah”), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Click the shofar above to hear an approximation of the sound of Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar’s sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat.

God’s Sign On Yom Kippur

April 11, 2009 by  
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God’s Sign On Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Barney Kasdan

As we move into the changes of the Fall season, the Jewish community is gearing up for the most important holy days in the biblical calendar. After the long, dry summer we move into several festivals packed into a 3-week period. The High Holy Days start with a focus on repentance at Rosh Hashanah (New Year). Yet the 10 days following are even more intense as we search our souls and evaluate our relationship with our Creator. On the 10th day of the Jewish month, we enter into the most holy day of them all known as Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). This solemn time includes a strict fast and numerous prayers as we seek to have our lives in order as we appear before the King. This year Jews worldwide, including some 75,000 here in San Diego, will gather on September 15-16 for this annual observance. Yet, it should be noted that the modern Yom Kippur service has greatly evolved for the observance of biblical times. When the Temple was standing in Jerusalem, the Holy Day was not only a time of prayer and fasting but also of some vital animal sacrifices. After all, that is the theme of Yom Kippur. Atonement and restoration must be bought by an outside sacrifice. It is not something we can muster up ourselves, even with our most sincere intentions. In the Torah itself (Leviticus 16), we are told that we must have the priest present a peculiar offering; namely, the 2 goats. One animal, called the Chatat/Sin Offering, was to be brought before the priest who in turn would lay his hands on the goat as he confessed the sins of Israel. After the confession, the goat was then slain as a symbolic atonement for the sins of the nation. The second goat has quite a different task. As the priest prayed over this animal, it was then set aside and not to be killed. In contrast to the sin offering goat, this second goat was then to be set free in the wilderness. It was fittingly called the Azazel or”scapegoat” in that it escaped while carrying away the sins of the people. In the Talmud we are told another fascinating detail about the scapegoat. It became a tradition in the days of the Temple to tie a crimson red thread to the horns of the goat to illustrate the darkness of sin. Yet we are told that every year the thread of the scapegoat turned from crimson to white to clearly show that the sins of the people had been forgiven. This was interpreted as a fulfillment of the verse in Isaiah 1:18 “though your sins be a scarlet they shall be white as snow.”

For hundreds of years, generation after generation, the ceremony of the crimson thread was fulfilled. That is, until one somber Yom Kippur day in the first century AD. In the Talmud it states “During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the lot for the Lord did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white” (Tractate Yoma 39b). This is an astounding statement when one realizes that the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. The thread stopped turning white some 40 years previous, meaning around 30 AD. Up until that time God had consistently given a sign of forgiveness to our people. But something happened around 30 AD that changed things. Call it a coincidence that at that very time a man came to Israel named Yeshua claiming to be our long-awaited Messiah. He lived a perfect life and yet died at that time as an atonement for the sins of Israel and indeed the whole world. If it is true that He paid the full price for us, it makes perfect sense why the crimson thread never changed again. There was no longer a need for the scapegoat of Yom Kippur because Yeshua of Nazareth completed the work. This incident with the goat was such a dramatic sign that it is recorded in Jewish tradition. As believers in Yeshua (both Jews and Gentiles), may we have a fresh vision of what God has done for us this High Holy Day season. It is my prayer that as we enter the Days of Awe, many of our people will consider God’s sign on Yom Kippur. L’Shana Tova Tikateyvu!


April 11, 2009 by  
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Sukkot as a Picture of the Two Comings of Messiah.

By Barney Kasdan, Messianic Rabbi

We have all heard the questions from our Jewish friends or family: If Yeshua (Jesus) is the real Messiah, why didn’t he fulfill all the promises of the Scriptures? Why are there still wars and problems if the Messiah has already come? Good questions indeed if you stop and think about it! Yet many of us have found sufficient answers as we began to study the Scriptures more carefully. Although many of our people presume that Yeshua cannot fit the description of the Messiah, even the classical rabbis could see that the larger question of Mashiach was not so easily answered. The fact is that there appears to be two contrasting pictures of what the Messiah would do when he comes to Israel. No doubt, the Mashiach would establish an everlasting kingdom of peace and blessing with headquarters in Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 11; Micah 4). Yet, in seeming opposition to this, many other Scriptures speak of a suffering Messiah who is rejected by many people (cf. Isaiah 53; Daniel 9).

Many of the early rabbis were puzzled by these statements and wondered how could these two aspects could possibly be reconciled in one person. A proposed solution is put forth various times that there must be in fact two different Messiahs coming to fulfill the two differing job descriptions. They called the King Messiah “Mashiach Ben David” since he would be the greater son of David. The suffering one was designated as “Mashiach Ben Yosef” since he appears to suffering much in the same manner as Joseph (Jacob’s son) in the book of Genesis (cf. Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 52a).

As we approach the High Holy Days, I believe there is some important evidence that is often overlooked in regard to Messiah’s two-fold ministry. Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles), besides being a celebration of the fall harvest, is also understood to be a prophetic picture of the Kingdom of Messiah. We build our Sukkot/temporary huts to remind us of the great truth that the day is coming when Messiah will “dwell or tabernacle” in our midst and fulfill the promises as the son of David. This must be the reason that Prophets foretell of the kingdom celebration of this feast among all the redeemed, both Jew and non-Jew:

“Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).

It makes sense that Sukkot will be the preeminent feast in the kingdom since Messiah is now dwelling with his people!

Yet within this Fall feast is also hidden the secondary aspect of Messiah’s work; namely his suffering for the atonement of our sins. This means that there must be some kind of connection between Sukkot and the first coming of the Messiah as we Messianic Jews would see it. I find it interesting that there has always been some debate about when Yeshua was actually born in the world. Most Western Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25 as the designated day to remember the Messiah’s first coming. Perhaps many people, both Jews and Gentiles, have overlooked the important holy day of Tabernacles as God’s time to celebrate the first coming of Messiah as well? As the Jewish believer wrote in the first century:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d…And the Word became flesh and dwelt (literally, tabernacled) among us…” (John 1:1,14).

How perfect! As the writer thinks of the first coming of Yeshua, he makes the connection to our ancient feast of Sukkot. Indeed, Messiah dwelt with his people at his first coming to Israel as Ben Yosef. Through his death and resurrection, Yeshua of Nazareth is able to fulfill the other aspect of the Messianic call as Ben David. He is returning soon to complete the whole plan of the Father.

So which is it? Two Messiah’s fulfilling the two missions or one Messiah coming two different times? As we wave the Lulav (palm branch) and dwell in the Sukkah this year, may G-d confirm the answer in our hearts. We at Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue invite you to join us in a joyous celebration of our High Holy Days in light of the fulfillment through Yeshua HaMashiach. Hag Sameyach!

Yom Hashoah

April 8, 2009 by  
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Remembering the Lessons of the Holocaust

by Barney Kasdan, Messianic Rabbi

It defies logic. It is almost incomprehensible. How can we imagine the depths of the Holocaust? Six million people murdered simply because they were identified as Jews. Among those were 1 1/2 million Jewish children who were killed because they represented the future of our people. We can never forget that additional victims included an estimated five million Gentiles who were murdered for various reasons, some of them for their stand for their Jewish neighbors. These were not war casualties (some 30 million total) but people targeted for death because of their race or belief. That the Christian community should also be concerned about Yom Hashoah is best illustrated by the insightful quote of German Pastor Martin Niemaller (himself a prisoner of Dachau): “It is shocking to realize that Hitler essentially accomplished his ‘final solution to the Jewish problem’ in the lands that his Nazi troops conquered. One can only wonder what would have happened if the Nazis would have not been defeated by the Allied forces”.

Thankfully, the last question is merely hypothetical. Am Yisrael Chai! Out of the darkness of Nazi Europe rose the light of the modern state of Israel. The Jewish community worldwide is finding renewed growth and strength. Yet, Yom Hashoah leaves many people with some lingering and disturbing questions. Many still wonder what the Holocaust tells us about G-d. It seems the better question is what the Holocaust tells us about the human heart. As for G-d himself, I believe He tells us through the prophets what He has been doing at times of this kind of suffering for Israel:

“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them; and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old” [Isaiah 63:10]. 

While we grieve (as G-d does) as we remember the 1/3 of our people who perished, we should also recall that if it wasn’t for the intervention of the Holy One, the remaining 2/3 would not have survived! While the sceptic is tempted to blame G-d for things like the Holocaust, the person of faith actually becomes stronger. We can see with spiritual eyes the victory of G-d’s kingdom over the falleness of mankind in this present age.

What makes the Holocaust even more difficult to understand for many of our people is how such atrocities could occur in a so-called Christian Europe? For this, I will not offer a superficial answer. Clearly, many of these people, while claiming to be Christians were not following his clear teachings. Yeshua even warned of people who would claim to be his but whom he didn’t even know! In his words, “a good tree cannot produce bad fruit” [cf. Matthew 7:18-23]. Many people are heartened by the fact that both the Catholic and Lutheran churches have recently sought forgiveness for any antisemitism, theological or otherwise. The sad history between the church and synagogue is a deep wound that has caused a massive chasm between the Jewish people and our own Messiah, Yeshua. What is the most important lesson to be learned from the tragedy of the Holocaust? If mankind is not to fall into such wickedness again, we must live the words of Yeshua as he was asked which was the greates t of the mitzvot:

“The foremost is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our G-d, The Lord is One; And you shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. [Mark 12:29-31].

Yom Kippur

April 8, 2009 by  
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Yom Kippur And The Messiah
by Barney Kasdan
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) has long been considered by our people as the holiest day of the Biblical calendar.  It is a time when the Jewish community stops to reflect, fast and pray as we take spiritual inventory of the last year.  Of the many themes of the holy day, one idea has nearly been forgotten in recent generations although it is emphasized in the Torah; namely, Yom Kippur is to be a day of LIBERTY!

The Picture of Liberty

“You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years, forty-nine years.  You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land.  You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty through the land to all its inhabitants.  It shall be a Jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.”  (Leviticus  25:8-10)

G-d has chosen to order His world in cycles of 7’s.  Every seventh day is to be special (Shabbat), every seventh year (Shmitah) as well as the special celebration mentioned here after 7×7 years.  On this 50th year, exactly on Yom Kippur of that year (10th of Tishri), there was to be liberty within Israel.  Unpaid debts were to be forgiven, property was to be returned to the original owners, even slaves were to be set free.  All this was to take place with the familiar sound of the ram’s horn at Yom Kippur.  Liberty was to be proclaimed through this great holiday known as the Yovel (Jubilee Year).

What a tremendous picture this must have been for generations of Jews in the land of Israel.  G-d had given a special Yom Kippur where we could rejoice in His freedom.  It is no surprise that the Prophets of Israel later developed this theme of Liberty through the Yovel holiday.

The Prediction of Liberty

Isaiah the Prophet spoke of a special Yovel to come when he said:

“The Spirit of the L-rd G-d is upon me, because the L-rd has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim LIBERTY to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the FAVORABLE YEAR of the L-rd…”  (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Here we have a prediction of some good news for Israel.  What was commanded and practiced in the Torah was a foreshadow of a FAVORABLE YEAR where liberty and blessing would come to our people.  And yet Isaiah seems to tie this day of freedom to the Jubilee on Yom Kippur.  How would all this take place?

It is clear to many rabbinic commentators that this day of liberty did not come in Isaiah’s day.  Indeed, he witnessed the tragic destruction on the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 BCE.  R. David Kimchi (11th century CE) in his commentary on this passage states that this “anointed” could not be the prophet but must in fact be the greatest anointed one, the Messiah.  In fact, Kimchi points out, these words penned in Isaiah 61 would be the exact words that the Messiah will speak when He appears to Israel!

Not only would the Messiah be the great LIBERATOR of Israel but other rabbis even speculated when this Messiah would appear.  Perhaps not surprisingly it is written,

“The World will endure not less than 85 Jubilees, and in the last Jubilee the Messiah, Son of David, will come.”  (Talmud Sanhedrin 97B).

All this presents a fascinating connection between Yom Kippur and the Messiah.  According to tradition, He must come to liberate Israel.  And what better time to do that than on the Yom Kippur of the Jubilee Year!

Sadly, with the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the observances of the Yovel came to a final end.  How could the Messiah proclaim such things today if there is no true celebration of the Jubilee?  This presents us with a problem but also with a possible answer.  What if the Messiah already came and made this proclamation to us?

The Presentation of Liberty

“And Yeshua (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood to read.  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him.  And He opened the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the L-rd is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind.  To set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable Year of the L-rd'”  (Luke 4:16-19).

Imagine the scene nearly 2000 years ago.  As Yeshua went to the regular worship services of the local synagogue, He was called up for the high honor of aliyah, chanting from the Hebrew scrolls.  On this particular day He was to read from the traditional portion in Isaiah 61; the famous passage of Israel’s hope for the coming Messiah.

In an interesting note, some scholars have tried to ascertain when this particular Shabbat fell.  Isaiah 61:1-2 is not currently read under the present order of synagogue services because it is based on a 1-year cycle.  It is known however that the readings in the first century were based on a 3-year cycle, greatly expanding the number of verses read.2  Because of this, some scholars have speculated that this passage would have been chanted on the sabbath which includes a close passage; namely, Isaiah 58. It so happens that this would place this reading on the holy day of Yom Kippur.3  This would mean that Yeshua was reading the very words that were to be spoken to Israel by the Messiah on the very day that the Messiah was to be revealed (ef. Kimchi)!

If these events were not clear enough, what followed clearly startled those synagogue attendees that day.

“And Yeshua closed the scroll, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him.  And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'”  (vv. 20-21).

How our people for generations have called out for the Messiah to come!  Yet, could it possibly be that we have missed the clear proclamation that was made to Israel some 2,000 years ago?

Yom Kippur, especially the Jubilee, was to be a time of liberty.  That liberty of the heart is still available for all people, Jew or Gentile, who would respond to His call.  As we hear the shofar this Yom Kippur, may we receive the liberty that can only come through faith in God’s Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth.

1.  Lexicon, R. David Kimchi.

2.  Encyclopedia Judaica, 15:1247

3.  Life and time of Jesus the Messiah, Edersheim, III p. 452

Rabbi Barney leading a Seder with Israeli and Christian Pro-Surfers in the new movie “Promised Land”

March 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Events, KA Blog

A Congregation of Messianic Jews and Gentiles that believe Yeshua/Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures.