Occasionally referred to as the "first of the appointed times", the 7th day Sabbath is one of the central points of Jewish life. This is the time, appointed by G-d every week, we are to set aside to remove ourselves from our work and focus on the L-rd. Shabbat is like a weekly "date" with the creator of the universe.
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In the beginning, at the very creation of the world, G-d set apart the 7th day with a blessing (Genesis 2:3). Therefore, we also say a blessing as we light the candles to welcome the Sabbath every Friday evening.
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh HaOlam, Asher Kiddushanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu L’hiyot Or L’goyim V’natan Lanu Yeshua Meshicheinu Ha’or L’olam.
Blessed are you, O L-rd our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us by His commandments, and commanded us to be a light to the nations, and has given us Yeshua our Messiah, the Light of the World.
The first mention in the Torah of the Sabbath as a commandment is seen in Exodus 16:23, where the Children of Israel are commanded to gather twice as much manna on the 6th day, so that they will do no work gathering on the Sabbath. Later, Moses relays to them the Ten Commandments, including the fourth commandment, to remember the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11).
The tradition of observing the first day of the week, Sunday, as a day of rest and worship was unknown until after the writing of the Bible, though Acts 20:7 records that early believers gathered after the conclusion of the sabbath to break bread and discuss their travels for the morning..
Rosh Chodesh, literally "Head of the Month", is the first day of every Hebrew month marked by the New Moon. It is a minor holiday celebrated by announcing the coming month and praying for peace, prosperity, and closeness with G-d during the coming month.
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Also on your days of rejoicing, at your designated times and on Rosh-Hodesh, you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; these will be your reminder before your G-d. I am Adonai your G-d.
Numbers 10:10 (CJB)
In ancient times, the new moon was announced by trumpets, messengers, and hilltop fires. Even though the new moon can be precisely calculated, tradition still dictates that the new month is announced and a prayer is recited asking for peace, prosperity, and piety during the coming month.
G-d said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years; and let them be for lights in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth”; and that is how it was. G-d made the two great lights — the larger light to rule the day and the smaller light to rule the night — and the stars.
Genesis 1:14-16 (CJB)
The concept of a lunar calendar did not originate with Moses. Rather, it was built into the design of the universe. The existence of lunar calendars dates back thousands of years before the giving of the Torah at Sinai.
Adonai spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said,“You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you.
Exodus 12:1-2 (CJB)
The Hebrew calendar is what’s known as a lunisolar calendar. This means that while the months are based on the lunar cycle, the year is synchronized with the solar cycle. The Christian holiday of Easter, which originated from Passover, still uses a lunisolar calendar to determine on which date it falls during the Gregorian year.
Purim is the first feast of the year on the Gregorian calendar and one of the most fun. It takes little preparation, and involves the children as well as adults. It tells the story of Esther (YAY!) and Haman (BOO!). You'll catch on quickly.
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The Children of Israel have an interesting capacity to approach difficult circumstances with wry humor. This may be a survival trait given by G-d to see them through their often turbulent history. The holiday of Purim offers a fine example of this trait in action.
The events of Purim center around a plot by an evil government minister to massacre the Jewish population in Persia, the empire in control of Judah at the time. Despite the alarming subject matter, Purim is a light-hearted, almost carnival-like festival that focuses on personal heroism and the faithfulness of G-d to deliver His people.
As with many Jewish holidays, the festivities involve a retelling of the story so that it might never be forgotten. Often this is done in the form of a Purimspiel, or a play, usually performed by the children of the community. Purim is the holiday in which children take center stage. There is a festive party where the children and adults come dressed as characters from the story, or in fun costumes. The principal food is a triangular cookie called hamantaschen, usually filled with prune or poppyseed, which is said to resemble the tri-cornered hat worn by the villain. (Click here for a printable hamantaschen recipe.)
During the telling of the story, the audience is fully involved, cheering loudly whenever the hero and heroine are mentioned and booing enthusiastically at the name of the villain.
Passover is celebrated every year on Nissan 14 (Leviticus 23:4). Download a Passover Haggadah (The Telling), recipes, and instructions, for a re-creation of the "Last Supper" you will never forget.
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Pesach is the spring feast celebrating the deliverance of the Children of Israel from the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt). This is also the feast that Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled when he was crucified.
We encourage our congregation, as well as all those whom G-d leads, to celebrate the Passover Seder in their own homes. To help we have created our own Passover Haggadah (The Telling), which is a book to be used as a guide to the feast of Passover.
The Haggadah we offer here was originally created by and has been refined by our Synagogue over the last six years. We have used as references both traditional and Messianic Jewish sources to create a haggadah which is easy to follow.
Tools for creating your own Passover Seder:
The Presentable Passover, a guide to getting ready for Passover.
The Passover Meal, some recipes for the Seder dinner.
With a Mighty Hand, a Messianic Passover Haggadah.
The feast of Shavuot (weeks), known in Christendom as Pentecost (fiftieth) occurs seven weeks and one day (50 days) after the Sabbath during Passover. This special day is known as the anniversary of the Torah being given to Moses, and the day the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles (Acts 2)
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The Hebrew word Shavuot can also be interpreted as “oaths”. This day is believed to be the same day on which the Torah was given at Sinai, G-d making an oath to us and we to Him. Shavuot was celebrated as a time of gladness concluding the grain harvest, much like Sukkot concludes the fruit harvest. It was the first day on which first fruits offerings were brought to the Temple. Thus in the Bible it is also known as the Festival of Reaping and the Day of First Fruits.
The festival of Shavuot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. 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. 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.
Acts 2:1-4 (CJB)
As the apostles gathered to celebrate this feast, another oath was fulfilled to them – the promise of the Holy Spirit.
You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the L-rd.
Leviticus 23:16 (ESV)
This is the only holiday for which the Torah does not indicate a specific date, rather it is counted from the Sabbath that falls during Passover. For this reason, there is different interpretations among Jewish sources about how to count, and which day the holiday falls on. Orthodox Judaism holds that seven weeks are to be counted starting the day after the high sabbath of Passover, the first day of Unleavened bread. Thus, in the above verse “Sabbath” would be interpreted “seven-day period” and Shavuot would always fall on the sixth day of the Hebrew month Sivan. However, others such as the Karaites, the historical Sadducees, and also Catholics hold that counting should begin the day after the regular Sabbath, therefore Shavuot would always fall on Sunday fifty days later. We at Beth El Shaddai respect both interpretations, but hold our celebration according to the later.
Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah)
Though it falls during the seventh month of the Biblical year, Rosh Hashanah, "Head of the Year", is considered the Jewish new year because it begins the Days of Awe, a time of introspection which encourages us to take a look at the past year as we approach Yom Kippur.
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The Jewish new year is actually celebrated in the seventh calendar month of the Hebrew calendar (Leviticus 23:24). This holiday signals the beginning of the High Holy Days, and usually falls around the Gregorian calendar’s September or October. It is commanded in Leviticus 23:24-25 to be, “a rest, a reminder by blowing (of trumpets).” Yom Teruah, as this day is called in the Torah, literally means “Day of Blowing.”
Rosh Hashanah is a festive day of fun and feasting. It ushers in the countdown to Yom Kippur and begins the time of cleansing and purification of the community in preparation for the plea for yearly atonement on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. As Believers in Yeshua, Rosh Hashanah also reminds us that we are waiting for the last shofar to sound on the day of our Messiah’s return (Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52).
The Day of Atonement is more an event than a celebration. To those of G-d's chosen who have not yet found the Messiah, this day is sometimes met with confusion and uncertainty. This would have been the day that all of Israel would have flocked to the Temple to offer sacrifices for their sins over the past year. With the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the only place authorized by G-d for such sacrifices was gone.
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Commanded in Leviticus 23:26 – 32, the Day of Atonement, was created to be a time when the Israelites would think back on all of their sins from the past year. They would repent and offer sacrifices and fast as they prayed to G-d for repentance.
We at Beth-El Shaddai prefer to remember our Atonement. We bathe this day in prayer not only for ourselves but also for those of our brothers and sisters who do not understand that the Atonement of their blood sacrifice has been lifted up once and for all in their Messiah. We also lift up G-d and praise Him for the Atonement that He made for us by defeating death and washing our sins away with the blood He spilled. The blood of the final Atonement sacrifice. The fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31 – 37.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a feast of celebration. Once the crops are in, there are sacrifices of thankfulness to be offered. No work is done on the first and eighth days. You should build a sukkah (a simple temporary structure outdoors), and have a party!
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Commanded in Leviticus 23:33 – 36, Sukkot is called the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Booths. At the specified time, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month(Hebrew calendar), the Children of Israel would come together and build temporary structures where they would live for seven days. They would not work at their occupations on the first and eighth day (Shemini Azaret/ Simchat Torah)as they celebrated the time of the harvest and offered sacrifices to G-d thanking Him for providing them with their harvest.
Because Sukkot is a time when the people of Israel would have gathered in Jerusalem (a time when a census of the people could have been easily conducted) many believers in Y’shua feel that this would have been the time when Messiah was actually born in Bethlehem.
Hanukkah, or The Feast of Dedication, is one of the most well-known Jewish holidays among gentiles. There is a good reason for this: If the Maccabean revolt it celebrates had not taken place 160 years earlier, Yeshua would not have had a Temple to come to. He took this very time to declare Himself to the High Priests in that very Temple (John 10:22).
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Each night of the eight day festival, we celebrate by reading the about the Maccabees, the story of the miracle of the oil, and the associated stories in Daniel. As believers in Yeshua we also read the story from John 10 and how the Messiah chose that time and place to announce that he was the one the prophets had foretold.
The most visual way to celebrate is to light the Hanukkiah, or Hanukkah menorah, which has nine candle holders instead of the normal seven. The “Shamash” or “Servant” candle is usually set off to one side, or elevated slightly in the middle.
On the first night we recite:
Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melekh ha-olam, she-he-khi-yanu v’kiyamanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
Blessed are you, O L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us and brought us to this season.
On the first night, a candle is placed in the shamash position and one candle on the end. Then we light the shamash with a match or lighter, then take the shamash from its holder and light the other candle(s). The second night, we would place the shamash and two candles, etc.