Esther’s D’rash: Shavu’ot

Thursday night this week started the festival of Shavu’ot.  It was originally a 1-day feast, which would have been celebrated from Thursday night to Friday night this week, but, later, an extra day was added (today) to encompass those of us who are far from Jerusalem.  You can read more about this feast in Leviticus 23:15-21 and Deuteronomy 16:9-12.

Since we are celebrating Shavu’ot, I want to talk about a very special Shavu’ot in history.  We will find this story in Acts 2.

Acts 2:1 The festival of Shavu‘ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place.

So this was a day much like today.  In this same festival.  With believers gathered together.

Acts2:2 Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Have you ever heard a strong wind like that?  A wind that was so powerful that it roared around your house?

Acts2:3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

The Ruach HaKodesh is the Holy Spirit of God.  His coming was part of the plan and had been foretold by prophets, as we will see as we read on.

Acts2:5 Now there were staying in Yerushalayim religious Jews from every nation under heaven.

Why were there religious Jews, from every nation under heaven, there in Jerusalem that day?  Because it was Shavu’ot.  There are three Feasts that required the people of Israel to travel to Jerusalem, and this is one of them.  So, based on instructions given to Moshe (Moses) so many generations before, Jews from every nation were gathered in Jerusalem for this day when the Ruach HaKodesh was poured out.

Acts 2:6 When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Totally amazed, they asked, “How is this possible? Aren’t all these people who are speaking from the Galil? How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Y’hudah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; 11 Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia. . . ! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?” 12 Amazed and confused, they all went on asking each other, “What can this mean?” 13 But others made fun of them and said, “They’ve just had too much wine!”

That is amazing, isn’t it?  A bunch of Galileans were glorifying G-d, telling of the great things He had done.  The Ruach HaKodesh enabled them to talk in different languages, and it was heard in native languages from all these different places!

I have always loved the fact that, when the Ruach HaKodesh gave them the words to speak, those words were talking about the great things G-d has done.  If you look in other places in Acts, you will see the sorts of things that Ruach HaKodesh gives us to speak – to glorify G-d, to give thanks well, to speak G-d’s message with boldness, to give wisdom/warning/instruction, to testify that Yeshua is Lord, and to pray well.  No wonder Yeshua said that the Ruach HaKodesh was a good gift (Luke 11:11-13)!

And now, just as everyone is wondering why these Galileans are testifying in other tongues and what this means, Kefa (Simon Peter) stands up and explains:


Acts 2:14 Then Kefa stood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: “You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me!

15 “These people aren’t drunk, as you suppose — it’s only nine in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo’el:

17 Adonai says:
“In the Last Days,
I will pour out from my Spirit upon everyone.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my slaves, both men and women,
will I pour out from my Spirit in those days;
and they will prophesy.
19 I will perform miracles in the sky above
and signs on the earth below —
blood, fire and thick smoke.
20 The sun will become dark
and the moon blood
before the great and fearful Day of Adonai comes.
21 And then, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be saved.”’[a]

22 “Men of Isra’el! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles and signs that God performed through him in your presence. You yourselves know this. 23 This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed him up on a stake and killed him!

24 “But God has raised him up and freed him from the suffering of death; it was impossible that death could keep its hold on him. 25 For David says this about him:

‘I saw Adonai always before me,
for he is at my right hand,
so that I will not be shaken.
26 For this reason, my heart was glad;
and my tongue rejoiced;
and now my body too will live on in the certain hope
27 that you will not abandon me to Sh’ol
or let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will fill me with joy by your presence.’[b]

29 “Brothers, I know I can say to you frankly that the patriarch David died and was buried — his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that one of his descendants would sit on his throne, 31 he was speaking in advance about the resurrection of the Messiah, that it was he who was not abandoned in Sh’ol and whose flesh did not see decay. 32 God raised up this Yeshua! And we are all witnesses of it!

33 “Moreover, he has been exalted to the right hand of God; has received from the Father what he promised, namely, the Ruach HaKodesh; and has poured out this gift, which you are both seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into heaven. But he says,

35 Adonai said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’[c]

36 Therefore, let the whole house of Isra’el know beyond doubt that God has made him both Lord and Messiah — this Yeshua, whom you executed on a stake!”

On hearing this, the people had a chance to choose how to respond.

Acts2:37 On hearing this, they were stung in their hearts; and they said to Kefa and the other emissaries, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Would you respond like this?  If you found that you had been wrong, that in your attempts to follow G-d (or in pursuit of your own goals), you had gotten yourself crosswise with G-d, would you seek wholeheartedly to make it right?  Even if it meant changing your ways?

Acts 2:38 Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!”

I love that last verse.  The promise is for you.  It is for future generations.  It is for people who are far away.  It is a promise.  It is part of His plan.  And it is for me.

Acts 2:40 He pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!”

41 So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people.

42 They continued faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries, in fellowship, in breaking bread and in the prayers. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many miracles and signs took place through the emissaries. 44 All those trusting in Yeshua stayed together and had everything in common; 45 in fact, they sold their property and possessions and distributed the proceeds to all who were in need. 46 Continuing faithfully and with singleness of purpose to meet in the Temple courts daily, and breaking bread in their several homes, they shared their food in joy and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having the respect of all the people. And day after day the Lord kept adding to them those who were being saved.

Somewhere along the way, I think we have slowed down and gotten complacent.  I think we have forgotten to spread the Word to every person across the whole world, and we’ve traded the rushing, mighty wind for something as soft and tickling as a whisper.

But maybe I’m wrong.  If you are walking with Him, doing things in His timing, not holding back when He tells you to move or to speak, and your life is bearing fruit like the Messiah and his disciples, then may you continue to prosper in everything you set your hands to.  I am glad that you are here and that you are allowing Him to work through you.  Thank you!

Maybe you are doing well, following the things that you know how to do, but scared to follow G-d into things that are new or strange to you.  Fear is not from Him (2 Timothy 1:7), and the Spirit He gave us is here with the boldness we need.  Timidity is not righteous.  I encourage you to seek G-d and study His Word.  See what is right.  See the path that He puts before us.  And follow Him.  It doesn’t come from your own strength anyway – trust Him!  He has good things for you!

And perhaps, you are not doing well.  Perhaps you find yourself in opposition to G-d.  You picked a path and you find yourself on the wrong side of the fence — with the G-d who made heavens and earth NOT on your side.  What then? Don’t despair – we’ve all found ourselves on the wrong side at some point in our lives – maybe more than once. But we do just as Kefa told the others in this chapter to do.  Turn from sin, return to G-d, be baptized on the authority of Yeshua into forgiveness of your sins, and receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh.  For the promise is for you, too, if you will come and follow Him.

Leviticus 23:15-21

15 “‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, 16 until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai. 17 You must bring bread from your homes for waving — two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven — as firstfruits for Adonai. 18 Along with the bread, present seven lambs without defect one year old, one young bull and two rams; these will be a burnt offering for Adonai, with their grain and drink offerings, an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for Adonai. 19 Offer one male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 The cohen will wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Adonai, with the two lambs; these will be holy for Adonai for the cohen. 21 On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.

Deuteronomy 16:9-12

“You are to count seven weeks; you are to begin counting seven weeks from the time you first put your sickle to the standing grain. 10 You are to observe the festival of Shavu‘ot [weeks] for Adonai your God with a voluntary offering, which you are to give in accordance with the degree to which Adonai your God has prospered you. 11 You are to rejoice in the presence of Adonai your God — you, your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, the L’vi’im living in your towns, and the foreigners, orphans and widows living among you — in the place where Adonai your God will choose to have his name live. 12 Remember that you were a slave in Egypt; then you will keep and obey these laws.

Ryan’s D’rash: Bamidbar

This is my first drash, and also my Bar Mitzvah drash. This week’s parsha is Bamidbar. Bamidbar means in the desert, as they were in the desert when Adonai told Moshe to take a census. A census is an official count or survey of a population, typically recording various details of individuals.

Moshe counted the people, 20-60 years of age, all of Israel except for the Levites. The total count was 603,550, over half a million! The Levites were counted separately because they were the ones appointed to work in the Mishkan. Their responsibilities included singing and guarding the Mishkan. They would also take apart the Mishkan and carry it and the holy items place to place when traveling to Canaan. Aaron would have to cover the items before they could carry it or else they would die. The rest of the tribes would be protecting them. The people of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun were to the east, Ruben, Simeon and Gad were to the south, Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin were to the west, and Dan, Asher and Naphtali were to the north.

During their travels they stayed together as a people, they had their troubles with each other, but they still stayed together. During these times we should stay with each other to comfort each other when we’re at our low points and laugh with each other at our high points. Even if it is six feet apart or digitally or even right beside each other we should be there. 

Shabbat Shalom. 

Sam’s D’rash: Behar “On the Mountain”/Bechukotai “In My Statutes”

When I read this week’s parsha this year, I remembered that I had the privilege to do the drash for Behar last year!  It made me a little excited because this meant that I was more familiar with the portion – a lovely side effect of doing drashes ?.  My usual routine for preparing a drash is to read the portion Sunday night, work on the Torah Study Monday and Tuesday, then sometime during this process Adonai brings something to my attention to drash about.  I followed my usual routine this week but nothing came to my attention. 


This week has been one of those weeks where everything is just heavy.  Not a bad week, not without joy, it has actually been a good productive week but there has been a heaviness.  The heaviness partly stems from walking through a difficult situation and it not being resolved well, and partly from walking along side someone who is going through a very difficult situation. 


So, what does this have to do with this week’s parsha?  Good question!  Well I went back and read what I wrote last year looking for inspiration.  The part that jumped out at me was how the Lord promised to order His blessing upon Israel the year prior to the Sabbatical year in Leviticus 25:21.


21 then I will order my blessing on you during the sixth year, so that the land brings forth enough produce for all three years.


I was reminded of how trustworthy and faithful our Father in Heaven is.  He places us all in positions of influence, service, authority, and leadership.  Wherever He places us, whatever He asks of us, He will always provide what we need to walk through it.  Our job is to follow Him, obey Him, and trust Him even when it doesn’t look/feel/turn out the way we want or hope.

This week also reminded me of how much we all need the Kinsman-Redeemer Yeshua to rescue us from ourselves and from the clutches of the enemy.  If you think about it, everyone you encounter, from the most pious to the most unlovely, equally need Him to rescue them.  It is my prayer that I will be able to see past the outward, to see what our Master Yeshua sees as He looks at us… someone worth saving.


To close I am posting my drash from last year – it’s not as heavy ?.  I pray you all have a beautiful week full of peace, joy, and love.


Shabbat Shalom,

Sam Dotson


2019 Drash – Behar “On the Mountain”


HaShem covers so much in this little parsha… Shabbat for the land, Jubilee years, conducting affairs justly, Kinsman-Redeemer (excellent subject to learn about as we approach Shavuot – the reading of Ruth), sustaining the poor, giving of loans, proper treatment of one who has sold himself as a slave to pay his debts.  There are so many things to glean from this one chapter.  So much Messiah and the Kingdom, in this chapter. 


As was read, this parsha starts with instructions for a Shabbat of complete rest for the land.  I can only imagine what the Israelites must have been thinking upon hearing this via Moshe.  Some farmers may have been reveling at a whole year off, others reeling at the idea of loss of income/wealth. I’m guessing HaShem answered the question most of us would have been asking… What will we eat?!


Leviticus 25:20

20 “‘If you ask, “If we aren’t allowed to sow seed or harvest what our land produces, what are we going to eat the seventh year?” 21 then I will order my blessing on you during the sixth year, so that the land brings forth enough produce for all three years. 22 The eighth year you will sow seed but eat the the old, stored produce until the ninth year; that is, until the produce of the eighth year comes in, you will eat the old, stored food.


Right before this passage HaShem is telling us to keep His regulations…

Leviticus 25:18-19

18 “‘Rather, you are to keep my regulations and rulings and act accordingly. If you do, you will live securely in the land. (RY: ii, LY: iii)19 The land will yield its produce, you will eat until you have enough, and you will live there securely.



What a reminder to us that the Lord is our provider and if He is asking us to do something, He will always provide for it. Our job is to follow and obey Him.  How amazing it must have been on the 6th year, how busy they must have been reaping 3x the usual harvest. (3 is always an interesting Biblical number)


After 7 cycles of these Sabbatical Years, there is a year a Jubilee, in which debts are forgiven, loans are cancelled, slaves set free, and land returns to the original tribal owner.  As believers in Yeshua, this must sound familiar to us.. Our debts (sins) are forgiven, we are released from being slaves (to sin), we are returned to our rightful owner.


In addition, all affairs concerning these things are subject to the nearness of the Jubilee year, keeping it ever as a focus – not to be forgotten.  HaShem is just and instructs us to conduct our affairs justly…


Lev 25:15-17

 15 Rather, you are to take into account the number of years after the yovel when you buy land from your neighbor, and he is to sell to you according to the number of years crops will be raised. 16 If the number of years remaining is large, you will raise the price; if few years remain, you will lower it; because what he is really selling you is the number of crops to be produced. 17 Thus you are not to take advantage of each other, but you are to fear your God; for I am Adonai your God.


HaShem is giving us a reminder/example of how we can and must love our neighbor as ourself.


Also, the land may never be sold permanently… Why? Because it belongs to HaShem…

Lev 25:23-24

23 “‘The land is not to be sold in perpetuity, because the land belongs to me — you are only foreigners and temporary residents with me. 24 Therefore, when you sell your property, you must include the right of redemption.



And … if we become poor and have to sell our property..

Lev 25:25

25 That is, if one of you becomes poor and sells some of his property, his next-of-kin can come and buy back what his relative sold.


This is referred to in Biblical times at a kinsman-redeemer.  He would pay the price to redeem the land – the man whose land was redeemed would still owe the kinsman-redeemer but this would save him from a worse fate, property in the hands of strangers or even slavery.

Yeshua is our Kinsman-Redeemer, He bought us back, paid the price to rescue us.


As it often happens when reading the Torah, I mourn a little what the world would be like if we had kept His rulings, but HaShem in His infinite wisdom and mercy knew and always had a plan.  As someone who was a slave to sin but now is a slave to Messiah, I eagerly await the day of His return, when all the captives will be set free – that will be a year of Jubilee!


Romans 11:26-27

26 and that it is in this way that all Isra’el will be saved. As the Tanakh says,

“Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer;
he will turn away ungodliness from Ya‘akov
27 and this will be my covenant with them, . . .
when I take away their sins.”[h]

Jackie’s D’rash: I Can’t Take It Anymore!

As I was preparing for this week’s D’rash, I thought what in the world can I find in this Torah Portion to share. I was feeling very down and depressed.  My thoughts were, “Lord how much more can I take”?  I don’t have anymore to give.  My week’s are long and stressful. So many hurting people and I can’t always help all of them. My team is on the front line everyday and even if we take every precaution to protect ourselves, there may be that one time.  So many thoughts running through my mind. Emotions are running high and I see a lot of tears of those who may lose everything they have. But as I opened my bible and turned to this week’s Torah Portion my hand fell on Leviticus 24: 1 and 2.

The Lord said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. This scripture hit me like a ton of bricks. Olives need to be pressed to bring forth pure oil.

The word Gethsemane is derived from two Hebrew words: gat, which means a place for pressing oil and Shemanim, which means oils.  During Yeshua’s time, heavy stone slabs were lowered onto olives that had already been crushed in an olive crusher. Gradually, the slabs weight squeezed the olive oil out of pulp and the oil ran into a pit. There the oil was collected in clay jars.

This image of the Gethsemane on the slope of the mount of olives where Yeshua went the night before his crucifixion provides a vivid picture of Yeshua’s suffering. The weight of the sins of the world pressed down upon him like a heavy slab of rock pressed down on olives in their baskets.  Yeshua’s sweat “ like drops of blood falling to the ground” Luke 22:44, flowed from Him like olive oil as it was squeezed out and flowed into the pit of an olive press.

Wow, this made my week seem very trivial in comparison. God knows what we are going through.  Sometimes he allows things in our lives to teach us lessons and bring us back to where we need to be.  He even speaks through a pandemic if we are only willing to listen.

One small scripture from this weeks Torah Portion has given me a better understanding of how Yeshua felt as he gave His life for ours and that He understands how we feel as we walk through these uncertain times, trying to help others get through another day.  I now know the answer to why I am on the frontline of the pandemic? Because that is exactly where God wants me to be. God my prayer is that you squeeze me so that your pure healing oil will flow from me to a hurting world.

Shabbat Shalom.

Jackie Burner