Sam’s D’rash: Parashah 49: Ki Tetze (When you go out)

Parashah 49: Ki Tetze (When you go out) Deuteronomy 21:10 –25:19

I was blessed to have given the drash on this parsha last year.  As I was preparing this year, reading the portion, completing the Torah study, etc., I purposely did not go back and read my drash from last year to see if something different stood out to me reading it a year later.  It didn’t, ?.  I think this year the thoughts that occurred to me last year maybe even more important.  Or maybe they are always this important and it is the craziness of the times that make us unable to look away from its importance.

This week’s parshah contains more than 70 of the traditional 613 commandments. You know we Dotsons love to do the math, that means that over 11.4% of the commandments are in this week’s parshah.  There is so much to talk about in this week but I’m gonna focus on one particular area that may encapsulate the purpose of obeying all the commandments.  War

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and Adonai your God hands them over to you

… this is how our parshah this week begins… not “if” you go out to war, “when”.  

It is vitally important that we remember that we are in a war.  The greatest of all wars, the battle between all that is good, holy, and just, against every evil thing. What is most pernicious about this war is, it goes on all around us and some days we barely notice it. Today, I offer up the notion that the war exists in every thought, every interaction, every choice we encounter.  

Wow, that’s pretty heavy, right.  It’s in everything? Unfortunately, there is no Switzerland in this battle, no neutral ground.  We are either actively seeking the Lord, or becoming susceptible to the enemy.

Well that didn’t make it any lighter, did it.  We all know the good news.  This war is won even though the battle is still raging.  We all know what we are supposed to do… Stay in the right camp.

The title of the parsha is repeated in Deuteronomy 23:9…

10 “When you go out as an army camp against your enemies, you are to guard yourself from every evil thing.

Ok, so how do we guard ourselves against every evil thing?  We need to know what is holy.  We cannot rely on ourselves to know the difference we have to know the ways of the Lord.  Before I was saved, I used to say, “I was taught right from wrong.” After a while I had to question, whose right and wrong was I taught.  The Torah is our field manual and our greatest weapon against the enemy.  It is both complex and simple.  It truly is as simple as love the Lord with all your might and love your neighbor as yourself, but at the same time He gave us the complexity of showing us detailed ways to walk it out, so we could understand His heart and His love for all of us, and expose our own shortcomings.  He knows our shortcomings and still He chooses to covenant with us anyway.  To me, this is illuminated in this parshah in chapter 22:1-4

22 “You are not to watch your brother’s ox or sheep straying and behave as if you hadn’t seen it; you must bring them back to your brother. If your brother is not close by, or you don’t know who the owner is, you are to bring it home to your house; and it will remain with you until your brother asks for it; then you are to give it back to him. You are to do the same with his donkey, his coat or anything else of your brother’s that he loses. If you find something he lost, you must not ignore it.

“If you see your brother’s donkey or ox collapsed on the road, you may not behave as if you hadn’t seen it; you must help him get them up on their feet again.

We already know to love our neighbor/brother as ourselves.  We wouldn’t do this to ourselves.  Yet here, the Lord shows us that he knows the fragility of our humanity.  We will pretend that we didn’t see the “donkey”.  Taking care of our brother’s donkey is how we stay in the right camp.  Ignoring it, is how we become susceptible to the enemy.  Knowing the Torah, not just by reading, but by studying, is our ultimate weapon against the enemy. When we more fully understand the Heart of the Lord, the more fully we can view our world through His eyes. Only then, can our decision maker judge accurately what to do in battle – and remember everything is part of the battle.

In war, it is important not just to know your weapons but also the enemy’s weapons.  The kids and I read a great devotion that spoke about the enemy’s weapons being … Fear, Loneliness, Anger, and Shame. We made up the acronym FLASH to help us remember these weapons. Thankfully the devotion went on to explain what tools we have to combat these devices.

Adapted from Jesus Calling for Kids

Fear is defeated by trust.  We have to know the Lord and His promises to trust Him.

Loneliness is cast out by His Presence.  We have to spend time with Him.

Anger is erased by His Peace. Anger is not getting something we want.  When we submit our situation to Him, He is faithful to give us His Peace.

Shame is driven away by forgiveness.  When we understand the love our Master Yeshua has for us, to submit Himself to die the most shameful death so we may have forgiveness and full access to the Father, the enemy cannot get a foothold with shame.

When we know His promises/His ways/His Torah, spend time with Him to learn it, submit ourselves under His authority, repent of our sin and accept His forgiveness, we have an impenetrable shield against the enemy.

To end let’s go back the beginning… Deuteronomy 21:10

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and Adonai your God hands them over to you

Let us always remember, The Father, through His Son Yeshua, has defeated the enemy.

Shabbat Shalom

Jackie’s D’rash: What’s It Going To Take?

While reading the Torah Portion this week, I kept returning to the second reading of the Parshah. Especially verses 14-20. It talks about choosing a King to rule over the Israelites after they crossed over and possessed the land promised to them.  The King must be one of their brothers, not a foreigner. You might be asking yourself, why? The foreigner may want to multiply horses for himself and try to take the Israelites back to Egypt. God specifically told them they must never go back that way. God also said that the King should not take many wives for himself.  Now that’s interesting!   I think there would be a whole lot of jealousy and bickering going on in the Palace. I think this would be a real distraction.

Now here is the part that got my attention. The King was required to write a Torah scroll for himself and read from it every day. I did a little research and found that it could take up to a year and a half to complete the writing.  The scroll remained with him, and he would read it all the days of his life.

The Word of God is rich and full of life.  Every year of reading through the Torah cycle, I learn something new.  My eyes are open to a new mitzvah, and as I search deeper, I find there are many things that I need to change in my life. That’s what the word of God does; it makes us take an honest look at ourselves. The bible has a lot to say about reading and obeying God’s Word. Psalm 119: 1 says, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Torah of Adonai. Verse 9 of the same chapter asks this question; how can a young man keep his way pure? The answer is by guarding it according to your word. It goes on to say in verse 11, I have treasured Your word in my heart, so I might not sin against you.

Walking uprightly and just takes effort on our behalf.  There are so many distractions in the world today. Our jobs, our hobbies, TV, Facebook, and many other things keep us from reading and studying the Word of God.  Nothing wrong with any of the above, except when they replace time with God.

So here is my take away from this week’s Parshah.  Let’s all become Kings and Queens of our households. Write the word of God on your hearts, read, and study Torah every day. Watch as the word of God changes your family, your job, and your attitude.


Shabbat Shalom

Sue’s D’rash: Re’eh

Re’eh (meaning “see”)

Parashah #47 for this year.

Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17.

          In this Parashah, Re’eh (meaning “see”), we find the following verse:

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (CJB) “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of ADONAI your G-d that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of ADONAI your G-d, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other g-ds that you have not known.”

  Israel was positioned right between Mt G’rizim (that’s the blessing) and Mt ‘Eival (that’s the curses).

     There is no middle ground when it comes to making choices.  This comes up often in the Bible, and in our lives as well at different stages.

     We have to trust in G-d to take care of us, and stay in His will and follow His commandments.  We can isolate examples where He saw us through some hardships and didn’t abandon us.  People come into our lives just when we need them to, for example, or a job or some money comes through for us.  Sometimes we have to wait a very long time, and then, like in Isaiah 54:11, “He set our stones in the finest way and lays our foundations with sapphires.” 

     Our very lives are a gift and this Shenandoah valley to which we were led is beautiful and rich like sparkling jewels.  I was so impressed with it when I first saw it in my 20s.  I didn’t know the groundwork was being laid to live here much later, after visiting my daughter at college several times.

     I can follow my now three children to the also breathtakingly lovely West Coast, or I can be thankful to be here in this very spiritual place where I can make an impact, more than with my children whom I am not supposed to make idols of.  It’s good for them to observe how I’m trusting G-d to care for them, so far from their home.  They don’t appear to need me, unless Yeshua tells me otherwise at some point.  That’s also true of my oldest child, who recently moved to Richmond from Charlottesville.

     I can also make the mistake of worshipping the house that has more room than I need, but that I love, and has lost me much money waiting to be sold.  I could have bought it out way below market, and now it won’t sell for much due to lowered prices, but I will be grateful for the sale and whatever I get to keep.  It’s also in a nice town that I chose, that’s no longer right for me like it once was.  I know these things also from a pattern of timely phone calls and notices, including the ones that cemented my decision to move here and stay here, and the calls that caused my youngest child to leave Virginia and move in with her sister, clear across the country.  I note and respect how things have fallen into place for her there so far, which overrides my shock and sadness due to her leaving so suddenly.

     In conclusion, we must all do what we were called to do for Yeshua’s purpose.  We are not alone, because He is here with us, giving us guidance and instruction, even in these difficult times we’re in right now, when our normal activities are curtailed.  We need to turn to Him more than ever, while we’re waiting for things to turn around and not get discouraged.


Shabbat Shalom!

Lisa’s D’rash: He Who Has Called You Is Faithful

Deuteronomy 9:4-29. In this Torah portion, we are reminded of some of Israel’s transgressions. As we have been studying the Torah, I have wondered why did G-d choose them? They were obedient and faithful sometimes. But sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes they were so disobedient that G-d wanted to destroy all of them! And there were times when G-d disciplined them. Through all of it, G-d was faithful to Israel. I may not know why they were chosen, but I am thankful that they were. It almost seems like they were chosen because He knew they wouldn’t follow Him perfectly. In our Torah club lesson last week, we learned that He chose Israel and gave them His Torah so that He could reveal Himself to the rest of the world. One thing He has revealed to the rest of the world is that He is faithful. One thing He has revealed to me is that He is faithful. I would like to close with  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “Now may the G-d of shalom make you completely holy; and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept complete, blameless at the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Faithful is the One who calls you- and He will make it happen!” TLV. Shabbat Shalom!

Esther’s D’rash

Scholars believe that the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) is covenant document – it follows the pattern of Middle Eastern written treaties and covenants.  In the Complete Jewish Study Bible, there is a commentary on page 235, called The Nature of Covenant, that I would like to read to you.




    That’s when the words of the V’Ahavta really jumped out at me.  You are to…what?  You are to LOVE ADONAI your God.

    This was not just a business relationship.  If you perform these 613 things, then I will perform my side of the agreement. 

     This was not just a religious agreement.  If you sing these songs and pray these prayers and offer these sacrifices, then I will be your God and bless you.

     This was a love relationship.  We are supposed to LOVE God.

     That’s a pretty radical idea, if you think about it.  How can you love someone as powerful and holy and unattainable as God?  What does it MEAN to love God?  Have you ever thought that you loved God?  Or have you ever told God that you loved Him?  What was that like?

     Let’s compare it with marriage.  Marriage is also a covenant, and it often serves as a good and tangible example of love.  Like the commentary said, covenants were usually started by some gracious action on the part of the king.  It was the same for Garrett and I. 

                First, he messaged and then called me – reaching out to me, initiating contact.

                Then he came to see me.

 Next he found a way to drive down and help my family set up an outdoor ministry event.  He made a long drive.  He gave up his own time to help me.  And he was so heroic, fixing the roof of the booth I would be in so I didn’t get rained on, and putting nails in the walls for me to hang things on.  That is probably the day that I started actually falling in love with him.

     In Deuteronomy, we see the same thing.  God called His people out of Egypt.  He rescued them.  And He was patient with them, forgiving them, and teaching them.  He was bringing them to a good land. He was the hero in the story.

     And in your own life, God has done this for you.  He called you by name.  You probably wouldn’t even be alive today if it weren’t for Him.  He has rescued you.  He has been patient with you, forgiving you, teaching you. And He’s bringing you to a good place as well.

     There are a few important things in this week’s Parshah about how to keep that love alive.

  1. Rehearse how it started.  I know that remembering that day that Garrett was fixing the roof on my booth still makes my heart warm and fuzzy.  In this week’s Parshah, ADONAI and Moshe tell the people to keep rehearsing what ADONAI has done for them.  Don’t forget. 
  2. Rehearse your shared life, nature, customs, and will.  Rehearse His mitzvot.  Rehearse His character.  If the goal of a covenant is to make two people into one, then focus on that oneness.

I know that Garrett and I are in close fellowship when we are on each other’s minds all the time.

  • He comes home from work, telling me that it was a hard day but he was thinking about the fact that he was doing it for me and it helped him finish the job. 
  • He comes home from a long drive and tells me that the sky over the road was full of my favorite type of clouds and he kept thinking about how much I would enjoy seeing them.   
  • I make foods that I know he likes. 
  • And I hear quotes from him in my head over every little thing I encounter (“well, if Garrett were here, he would say…”). 
  • I counter every big decision with “let me check with Garrett.” I’m focusing on that ONEness with him.

Someone who loves God does the same.  Those flowers by your porch make you smile because He made them.  Quotes from His Word pop into your head all day long.  You rest on the Shabbat because you know He likes that.  You are actively pursuing His way of doing and being right.  That is part of this covenant of love.

  1. Don’t allow someone else to steal your focus away.  Deut 7:5 says, in reference to the Canaanite lands with their foreign gods, “No, treat them this way: break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to pieces, cut down their sacred poles, and burn up their carved images completely.

You can’t let other temptations hang around.  One of my closest friends, when she got married, she went through all her belongings and got rid of stuff.  She got rid of a cute little teddy bear that some guy from her youth group had given her, years earlier.  She ripped up a photograph of an old crush of hers.  She got rid of any romantic reminders that weren’t from her new husband.

And it doesn’t stop there — when you are married, sometimes new temptations arise and you have to cut them down immediately, too.  Maybe it’s a really nice coworker that just seems to work so well with you.  Maybe it’s a really cute bass player at your congregation.  Maybe it’s an old friend that just popped up out of nowhere.  You don’t entertain the thought of “I wonder what we would be like together.”  You don’t even leave that thought sitting there and “just try to ignore it.”  You do just like ADONAI told the children of Isra’el and you cut that thought down completely and smash it.

We have to do the same with God. 

o   Is there a cute magic movie, and you wish you could just snap your fingers and have your wishes come true?  No, cut that idea down right away. 

o   Does your friend worship nature, and that actually seems kind of appealing?  Don’t let that idea just sit there and co-exist with your worship of ADONAI. 

o   Is there a pagan ritual or a pagan god that sounds really cool to you?  You can’t leave those things in your life because it is impossible to serve God and them. 

It would be like Garrett coming home and saying, “hey, I’ve decided to love you and this other gorgeous girl who I’ve found…who, by the way, is one of your enemies.  She’s moving in now, and we’ll give her the spare bedroom.”  That just doesn’t work in a strong marriage relationship!


    These are just some practical applications of love – remembering your history together, practicing the things that make you ONE with each other (loving what each other loves), and keeping faithful in that ONEness.

    But there is something more to love, isn’t there?  Love isn’t just a list of duties.  I could stand up here and say, in a monotone voice, “Once upon a time, Garrett drove all the way down to see Esther and he fixed a roof.”  Or I could say, “Garrett likes to come home to a clean house.  I will now clean it just because it annoys me when he comes home grumpy.”  Or I could say, “I didn’t talk to any other cute guys today.  And I really don’t want to talk to you either.”

     That wouldn’t be love, would it?

     By the same token, we can read the Bible from cover to cover.  We can follow the commands to the letter.  We can shun other gods.  And still not love God.

     I want each of you to try a little demonstration for me.  I want you to turn to someone in this room.  I want you to think that you don’t care two pins about this person.  And I want you to say in a flat voice, “Hi, I hope you have a good week,” without meaning it at all.  Go ahead and try it.

     That was terrible.

     Now we’re going to try this again.  But before we do, I want you to think about this person.  And you love this person.  Maybe it’s your mom.  Maybe it’s your brother.  Maybe it’s a good friend.  You genuinely like this person.  You genuinely care about this person.  When you think about them, your heart swells with love for them.  You want to be patient with them, kind to them, humble and selfless in your approach to them.  It would be pretty hard for them to make you angry because you like them so much.  If they make a mistake, you would forgive it and forget about it.  You trust them.  You love them.  Everything in you wants to be around them.  Everything in you wants them to be happy and succeed.

     Now, as you are thinking these things, turn to that person and say, “I hope you have a good week!”

     See the difference?

     Love is a choice.  Love is an action.  Love is long-lasting.  Love comes from every layer of your being.  That’s why the Shema says to love ADONAI your God with all your




     Love comes from all those places.  It comes from your heart and your mind and your will and your emotions and your strength and your resources.

     This covenant that we have been called to isn’t a mere business agreement or governmental contract or even a set of religious observances.  It is a covenant of love that is all or nothing.

    And that. Is. Amazing.


Shabbat Shalom!

And practice your love toward ADONAI this week!