Tag Archives: Mitzvah (commandments)

Sukkoth, Gog, Magog, Armageddon, a covenant and Jerusalem

Moadim L’Simcha (Appointed Times for Joy) and Shabbat Shalom dear readers!

The joyous holiday of Sukkoth (Sukkot or Feast or Tabernacles or Feast of Booths), one of the three Pilgrim Festivals of the Hebrew Bible, is observed on the Jewish calendar dates of 15-21 Tishrei and is immediately followed by the holiday of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. The final day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabba (“Great Hosanna”) (In 2016 coming Monday and Tuesday) and with the eighth day should for Christians also be important, being it a day of Solemn Assembly, commemorating the completion of the annual cycle of readings from the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and being called Simḥat Torah (“Rejoicing of the Law”). .

The seventh day of the festival of Sukkot, considered to be the final day of the New Year’s Divine “judgment” in which the year’s fate is determined; in addition to the Four Kinds taken on the preceding days of Sukkot, an additional willow is taken on this day; it is customary to stay up all night on the eve of Hoshanah Rabbah and study Torah.

During the week long festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the regular Parasha (Torah portion) for Shabbat is suspended, and a special Parasha pertaining to the holiday is read in synagogues around the world.

Readings for Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot
Exodus 33:12–34:26; Ezekiel 38:18–39:16; Revelation 21:1–22:21

For lovers of God the Jewish reading for today is one which should concern all, being aware of the importance of the covenant made by the Most High.

“Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord: for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.”  (Exodus 34:10)

In this special Sukkot reading, Moses asks that God’s presence would go with Israel, and God agrees. The marvellous thing about God the Divine Creator is that He loves His creation so much, that when people ask Him to be with them and to go with them, God will do that. He is there for all who want Him nearby.
Encouraged by this positive response, Moses also asks to see God’s glory.  Once again, God graciously complies with his request and invites Moses to ascend Mount Sinai with two newly hewn stone tablets so that He can re-carve the Ten Commandments. Those mitzvah or commandments were given to be a guide for mankind, so that they could build up a good relationship with their Most High Maker.
It was there on that mountain that God revealed His glory to Moses in such a fearsome spectacle of power that God had to protect Moses from being destroyed by it.
“There is a place near Me where you can stand on a rock.  When My glory passes by, I will put you in an opening in the rock.  I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand.  You will see My back.  But My face must not be seen.”  (Exodus 33:21–23)
It’s clear that Moses, having experienced the power of the presence of God, understands that His presence is more than sufficient against any threat Israel might encounter inside or outside of the Promised Land.
This is a great prospect for God’s nation. We also know now that God promised Abraham that his seed and sons by faith, would come to live in the Holy Land. In the end all Jews, the children of Abraham, will find their Holy Nation there and find Jerusalem to be the capital of the nation of God’s people. They would be sent in exile and have to endure lots of problems throughout history, but there shall come a time when they shall be all united under God’s Kingdom. God will gather His People to their own land and the whole world shall come to know it.
The world shall have to come to hear that Israel shall be restored and that also others came to know the Law of God and shall be willing to live according the covenant also brought to them by the sent one from God, rabbi Jeshua, the son of man and son of God, who gave his life as a ransom payment for all sinners, so that all people could come back to God to be His children. He provided a new covenant, one of reconciliation.
But we should take heed, God has given a warning that terrible times shall come  over the world. The Restoration of Israel shall be challenged.
“This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, My hot anger will be aroused.”  (Ezekiel 38:18)
In the Haftarah (prophetic portion) for this Shabbat Chol Hamoed (intermediate day of the festival) of Sukkot, the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel describes an end-time scenario in which formidable armies from the north, under the leadership of Gog, will challenge the restoration of Israel.
Gog (left) and Magog, wooden effigies in the Guildhall, London

Gog (left) and Magog, wooden effigies in the Guildhall, London – Courtesy of the British Tourist Authority

Gog is a chief prince living in the land of Magog (Ezekiel 38:2).  Many scholars believe Magog refers to Russia.  The invading land of Gomer is often believed to be Germany.

Several lands in the coalition army are easily identifiable: Iran (Persia), Northern Sudan (ancient Ethiopia or Cush), Libya (Put), and Turkey (Togarmah).
Last year at this time, Russia made significant moves into the Middle East, reportedly to fight against ISIS.  Last week, however, it negotiated its first “permanent” air base in the region at Khmeimim, Syria and its naval base in Tartus, Syria will soon become “permanent” as well.
Russia also recently installed its S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system in Syria and completed the transfer of the system to Iran last month.
In effect, Russia has become a major military broker in the region.  It is right now on the doorstep of Israel, and it plans to stay.
The nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38 will unite and come upon Israel “like a cloud that covers the land” for the purpose of looting the wealth that she has amassed in what was a desolate land only seventy years ago.
Yet, God will not abandon His People.  He will utterly destroy the coalition forces of Gog so that all nations will come to know the holiness of the Lord (Ezekiel 38:18–23).
The forces that come against Israel will be so large in their day of defeat that Gog’s weaponry will provide fuel for Israel for seven years (Ezekiel 39:9).
“They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel.  And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD.”  (Ezekiel 39:10)
Moreover, so many soldiers will die in this battle that it will take seven months for Israel to bury them all and cleanse their land (Ezekiel 39:12).

A man carries a Torah scroll that is protected by a silver Torah tik (case) during Sukkot at the Western Wall.

The Jews read about this end-time battle during Sukkot, because according to Rabbinic tradition, this war will be waged during the month of Tishri, the month in which the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) falls.

Interestingly enough, the war that is described in Ezekiel is similar to the war described in the 14th chapter of Zechariah, the Haftarah reading on the first day of Sukkot.  And in Zechariah we learn that the Gentiles who survive the war against Israel will be required to keep Sukkot annually by coming up to the Holy City of Jerusalem to worship the Lord.
“Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles [Sukkot].  If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.”  (Zechariah 14:1617)
This should give us food to think about the matter of feasts and holidays we do have to partake.

Sukkot at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

 

 

Psalm 27 presents a clear connection between Sukkot and God’s protection of Israel and those who trust in Him:
“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle [sukkah]; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.”  (Psalm 27:5)
The word translated here as tabernacle is the Hebrew word sukkah (סכה)When evil threatens God’s people, He will hide them in His sukkah, inaccessible from the enemy on the rock of His presence.
Now that is a promise we can trust in during these last days!

 

The Battle of Armageddon

“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth — Gog and Magog — to gather them for battle.”  (Revelation 20:78)
Gog and Magog are also mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) in connection with Armageddon and the final battle between the forces of good and evil.
This war with Gog and Magog is not the same war described in Ezekiel 38 but a final end-time battle after the thousand-year reign of Jeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
The Son of David, Jeshua, will come again — this time as our conquering Messiah to defeat the invading forces forever.  All who have believed in their Saviour, Jeshua, will inherit eternity in God’s Kingdom of which the New Jerusalem shall be the capital of a revived Garden of Eden complete with trees of life and pure living water that will be good to eat and drink forever.

Ancient ruins atop Har Meggido in Israel

Armageddon is mentioned only once in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) in chapter 16 of the Book of Revelation.
“They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty….  Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”  (Revelation 16:14, 16)
The word Armageddon is derived from Har Magedon (meaning mountain of Megiddo) and is mentioned many times in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
Megiddo is derived from the Hebrew word gadad, meaning to penetrate, muster troops together, perhaps even invade.
In this end-time invasion, we once again see Israel’s enemies mounting a war against Jerusalem.  This time, however, we see the spiritual forces behind the rebellion against God:
“They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.”  (Revelation 9:11)
The words Abaddon and Apollyon mean Destroyer.
And this time, God pours out on the Destroyer and all rebels the full extent of His judgment, including everlasting torment for Satan, the beast and the false prophet.
“They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city He loves.  But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And Satan, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:910)
With an Outstretched Arm
As we read how God will hurl His fury against Gog with pestilence and with blood, floods, giant hailstones, fire and brimstone, it’s easy to see from this Haftarah portion that God is furious with those who come against the Land of Israel(Ezekiel 38:22).
In fact, there are several parallels between God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt long ago and His future deliverance of Israel from Gog in the end times.  In both, we see that God saves and rescues Israel with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.
The phrase with a strong hand and an outstretched arm (בְּיָ֣ד חֲ֭זָקָה וּבִזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֑ה) has special meaning in Jewish tradition.  It represents God using His power on behalf of His people.  The “arm of the Lord” also represents His salvation, which in Hebrew is Jeshua.
“You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror.”  (Jeremiah 32:21, see also Deuteronomy 4:34; 26:8; Exodus 6:6)
As Russia expands its influence in the region and neighboring nations plot to annihilate Israel, there is certainly evidence that Ezekiel 38 is on the horizon.  Yet, this Sukkot Parasha reveals that God’s Divine Sheltering Presence over Israel has not ended but will continue past the end of this age.
God is not finished with the Jewish People and Israel.  This is plainly evident when we consider how Bible Prophecy concerning Israel is being fulfilled during these end times before our very eyes.
The Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) also tells us that God’s plan to reach out to the nations through Israel did not end with the death and resurrection of Messiah, but continues to this day and will in the world to come:
“For if their casting Yeshua [Jesus] aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting Him mean?  It will be life from the dead!”  (Romans 11:15)
The Book of Romans promises that when the Jewish People come to know Jeshua, it will be like life from the dead for the world.
Before this can happen, however, they must first hear the Good News of Jeshua!
“How can they call on Him unless they believe in Him?  How can they believe in Him unless they hear about Him?  How can they hear about Him unless someone preaches to them?”  (Romans 10:14)
It is up to the followers of Jeshua to follow up the task given by this master, rabbi Jeshua. Therefore Christians, being aware that the times are coming closer, should make work of it, spreading the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God.
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With thanks to the Messianic Bible
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Additional reading

  1. Ninth of Av
  2. Festival of Freedom and persecutions
  3. Jerusalem God’s City for ever
  4. Glory of only One God Who gives His Word
  5. Vayikra after its opening word וַיִּקְרָא, which means and He called
  6. Holy land Christian exodus
  7. How do we know the coming of Jesus is very near?
  8. Armageddon, har and megiddo, an action or a place
  9. Ember and light the ransomed of Jehovah
  10. Ransom for all
  11. Jerusalem and a son’s kingdom
  12. Bringing into safety from Irak and Iran
  13. 2015 the year of ISIS
  14. This Week’s Developments in Weekly World Watch 15-21 July
  15. The promise a guarantee of something and the heir that is going to have
  16. Chemical warsite and Pushing king of the South

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Further reading

  1. Understanding the Battle of Gog and Magog
  2. Trend Update: Burden of Damascus/Russian Embassy Takes Fire, October 2016
  3. Zork Nemesis – The Forbidden Lands
  4. War is upon us!
  5. Russia, Iran, and The War with Israel
  6. The Coming War
  7. Ezekiel blog: My version of the end of the world, part I
  8. Ezekiel blog: My version of the end of the world Part II
  9. Who are the real Gog and Magog in prophecy?
  10. Less of Me
  11. “My Relationship with Jesus Christ”
  12. Trend Update: Ezekiel 38-39/Magog (Russia)/Golan Heights, Passover 2016
  13. Alliance Formation

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Mishmash of a legal code but importance of mitzvah or commandments

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, working in England, writes

Interestingly while Judaism teaches that mitzvot are divinely ordained and therefore not to be questioned or even necessarily understood, it does at the same time try to explain them as a rational force, and many commentators suggest reasons for our doing them.

We are told: – “The essential reason for the commandments is to make the human heart upright” ( ibn Ezra on Deut 5:18); or “Each commandment adds holiness to the people of Israel.” (Issi ben Akavia,  Mechilta on Ex 22:30); or even that “The purpose of the mitzvot is…to promote compassion, loving kindness and peace in the world” (Maimonides, yad, Shabbat) {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

English: The Covenant Confirmed, by John Steep...

The Covenant Confirmed, by John Steeple Davis (1844-1917), as in Exodus 24 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who believe in the God of Abraham, should know that this God of gods has given the many commandments to help man find his way in this universe and to live in a proper peaceful relation with God’s creation.

The world has been given Mishpatim, which we may consider judgements by ‘laws’ or ‘rulings’ and they will govern the community who agree to accept them. But not all humans will accept them, that’s a fact. Also in the previous times people of God did not have it easy at all times with those Mishpatim, though just after Moses has finished relating all the various laws to the Children of Israel, we can see in the Old Testament how often those People of God went astray.

English: Moses Showing the Ten Commandments, b...

Moses Showing the Ten Commandments, by Gustave Doré (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Real lovers of God should agree “to do all the things that God has spoken” (Exodus 24:3). They should cling to the Word of God as the only Perfect Rule Giver and should go for keeping “miẓwah”, the divinely instituted rule of conduct. As such, the divine commandments are divided into (1) mandatory laws known as , and (2) those of a prohibitory character, the . This terminology rests on the theological construction that God’s will is the source of and authority for every moral and religious duty. Many of the old laws were given to and concerned only special classes of people, such as kings or priesthood, Levites or Nazarites, or are conditioned by local or temporary circumstances of the Jewish nation, as, for instance, the agricultural, sacrificial, and Levitical laws.

For us today some rules may be curious, and that is why at a certain moment in time some changes were allowed. It was not God Who changed, but the people who changed and God came closer to them by adapting His rulings. As such we may now face other food laws and about sanitation than at the early beginning, plus about how to relate to others, because certain concepts changed, like the position of slaves.

Torah scroll and silver pointer (yad) used in reading

Torah scroll and silver pointer (yad) used in reading

Of the more than fifty mitzvot to be found in the sidra, we have some that deal with the treatment of slaves, with the crimes of murder and kidnap, with personal injury and with civil damages through neglect or theft. There are rules about witchcraft and idolatry, about oppression and unfair business practise, about applying legal codes in a prejudiced fashion and not giving false testimony; laws about not mistreating widows and orphans, and about care for animals. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

When we look at those laws and regulations we may not forget that many still keep going and should be fulfilled by a lover of God. It is not because we have Jesus as our Messiah who liberated us from the curse of Law that the Law has ended. No, not at all. The Law still counts. Even now we have received a New Covenant, should we keep to those law covered in that covenant.

Too many Christians commit a mistake by thinking they do not have to do any works any-more. We still have to keep the works of faith, keeping to God’s Commandments.

In parshat Mishpatim, the Israelites learn that accepting the commandments is a 24/7 job. {Parenting by the Parshah – Mishpatim}

We also must be fully aware of the most frequent mitzvah in Torah, given at least 37 different times in the text,which  is repeated in the Mishpatim too –

“you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Israel.”

It is a mishmash of a legal code but what comes through loud and clear to the reader is the importance to the Jewish people of mitzvot, commandments.

From Torah we see that for the ancient people there were particular reasons for observing the mitzvot – firstly and most importantly because God tells us to. Secondly there was in the ancient understanding an idea that people who obeyed them would be rewarded, and people who disobeyed risked punishment. Then there were two different types of reason given in Torah – that the mitzvot were intrinsically imbued with divine wisdom, and that they would lead us to achieving holiness.  {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

Each person who wants to become a Child of God, or to belong to God’s People shall have to resign oneself to the Will of God. But none can belong to the children of God when they do not accept others to be their brethren and sisters, and loving them as their siblings. The agape love for the others is a indispensible necessary part of belonging to God’s family.

In Judaism as in Christianity too there might be a tension in their tradition

– do we do the commandments (mitzvot) simply because there is a Commander (metzaveh) who told us to do this and this should be enough, or do we search out a meaning behind each mitzvah? And if we do the latter, what happens if we cannot find a suitable reason and meaning? Do we abandon the mitzvah as unreasonable or pointless? Or do we continue to do it in the hope that meaning will emerge? After all, at Sinai the people famously answered “na’aseh ve’nishma, [first] we will do it and [subsequently] we will understand”. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

The tension and balancing between holding a religious belief and a rationalist position was as great in the ancient world as it is today. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

For those who love God ‘blind faith’ was never a prerequisite, neither of a Jewish life nor of a Christian life.

Judaism tends to the position of na’aseh ve’nishma – doing in order to understand, blending faith and reason and giving neither the upper hand, but instead knowing that if we behave “as if” we believe, if we follow the way of mitzvot, then further understanding may come. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

From Scriptures we should come to understand there is no way of doing “as if” because God sees the heart and He does knows each of us. We can not hide anything from Him.

1 Samuel 16:7 The Scriptures 1998+  (7)  But יהוה {Jehovah} said to Shemu’ĕl, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him, for not as man sees, for man looks at the eyes, but יהוה {Jehovah} looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:10 The Scriptures 1998+  (10)  “I, יהוה {Jehovah}, search the heart, I try the kidneys, and give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

Moses with the Two New Tables of Stone (illust...

Moses with the Two New Tables of Stone (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our hearts may not be removed from God and by our way of living we should show to others how God is in our heart. Our heart, our feelings but also how we act should always be pure, full of love for God and His commandments. When we are willing to give ourselves into God’s Hands He will bring us where He wants us to be.

Proverbs 21:1-3 The Scriptures 1998+  (1)  The sovereign’s heart is as channels of water In the hand of יהוה {Jehovah}; He turns it wherever He wishes.  (2)  All a man’s ways are right in his own eyes, But יהוה {Jehovah} weighs the hearts.  (3)  To do righteousness and right-ruling Is more acceptable to יהוה {Jehovah} than a slaughtering.

Each day we have to work at ourself taking care we keep to the commandments of God.

Meanwhile we are impacting on ourselves and on our world in a positive way as we are directed to behaviour that may not be our first instinct – to support the poor and downtrodden, to value life, to respect the boundaries of others, to rein in our own power and desires so as not to trample over the lives of others. The list goes on. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

As tradition says again and again in different words, the same message:  “the commandments were given only to refine God’s creatures…”(Midrash Tanchuma). They change us, they cause us to think about what we are doing and not to act out of immediate self interest, they shape our behaviour and ultimately they may help us to bring holiness into our world. {Parashat Mishpatim. What is the purpose of mitzvot?}

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Preceding

When believing in God’s existence and His son, possessing a divine legislation

A Royal Rule given to followers of Christ

First man’s task still counting today

Whoopi Goldberg commandments and abortion

He who knows himself, is kind to others

Luther’s misunderstanding

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works

Our life depending on faith

Romans 4 and the Sacraments

Is Justification a process?

Letter to the Romans, chapter 3

Letter to the Romans, chapter 4

Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans

Additional comments to the Letter to the Romans 4

Comments to James remarks, about Faith and works

Which is worse–works without faith, or faith without works?

Christians remaining hidden not sharing the gospel

Witnessing because we love

Leading people astray!

Crisis man needed in this world

Preaching Christ Is Not Enough

Beautiful feet of those who announce the good news

Preaching by example

A Christian has to have eyes and ears and a tongue to use in good ways

Daring to speak in multicultural environment

Perishable non theologians daring to go out to preach

What Should I Preach ?

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Additional reading

  1. Bible in the first place #1/3
  2. Creator and Blogger God 3 Lesson and solution
  3. Creator and Blogger God 4 Expounding voice
  4. Creator and Blogger God 6 For His people
  5. God-breathed prophetic words written torah and the mitzvot to teach us
  6. Words God speaks unto all and the Spirit that quickens
  7. The Bible is a today book
  8. Statutes given unto us
  9. Necessary to be known all over the earth
  10. God’s design in the creation of the world
  11. Time passing away
  12. Best intimate relation to look for
  13. Let us not forget it was God who chose us
  14. Daily Spiritual Food To prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of God
  15. Engaging the culture without losing the gospel
  16. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  17. Knowing where to go to
  18. I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late !
  19. The inspiring divine spark
  20. A good idea to halt all activity for one hour some day
  21. Eternity depends upon this short time on earth
  22. Act as if everything you think, say and do determines your entire life
  23. Truth never plays false roles of any kind, which is why people are so surprised when meeting it
  24. Foundation to go the distance
  25. Preferring to be a Christian
  26. Aim High: Examples of Godly Characters to follow
  27. Purify my heart
  28. United people under Christ
  29. Honesty beginning of holiness
  30. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  31. How we think shows through in how we act
  32. Object of first woe
  33. Think hard before you act today

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Further reading

  1. The Kotel Decision: The Parties at the Table
  2. Mishpatim פרשת משפטים
  3. Mishpatim – Who’s Serving Whom?
  4. Shift and Consolidation: Thoughts on the Torah Portions Mishpatim and Terumah
  5. Commentary for Mishpatim
  6. Mishpatim – Its just a White Lie
  7. When the plumbers stop society’s moral leaks
  8. Parashat Mishpatim /
  9. Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5776–Shabbat Torah Study at Adat Shalom Synagogue–Don’t Make Him Tell on You
  10. Mishpatim – Wholly Love
  11. Parshat Hashavuah: Mishpatim by Alex Gage
  12. Scripture for 2.5.2016
  13. Stole My Heart – Parshat Mishpatim 5776
  14. Parsha Mishpatim
  15. Shabbat Shalom! – Mishpatim
  16. Dvar Torah Parshat Mishpatim 5776 2016
  17. Mishpatim 5774 – Visión y Detalles
  18. Double Cry – Mishpatim 5776
  19. Il monoteismo etico – Parashat Mishpatim
  20. Mishpatim: Where heaven and earth converge
  21. Parenting by the Parshah – Mishpatim
  22. Parashat Kedoshim – What is it doing here?

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