Torah Portion VAYELECH– Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:1–31:30
Shmita Year 2021/5782
Special Edition Days of Awe
“But in the seventh year there is to be a Shabbat rest for the land—a Shabbat to Adonai. You are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard.” Leviticus 25:4 TLV
Shabbat shalom, dearly beloved!
As we enter into this season of the Fall Feasts (Trumpets- Atonement-Booths) in this Shmita Year or Shabbat Year we need to enter in with the right attitude of mind. Count on it that this is going to be a different kind of year. Things are going to happen this year more than in other years that will be out of your control.
“You are not to reap what grows by itself during your harvest nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. It is to be a year of Shabbat rest for the land.” Leviticus 25:5 TLV
Shmita means “Let Go”, “Let the matter rest”, “Let it fall and do not pick it up”. It is the Shabbat year of the Land and it happens every seventh year. The land is left to rest untilled, unsown and besides what you need for consumption, unharvested. The extra fruit and produce that farmers would normally harvest to market will be “let go”, “let fall” on the ground for the beast of the field and the land to be replenished. This would force not only the land to rest but the farmers also. Only the food needed for personal consumption, all that grows by itself would be gathered and the surplus would be left on the vines.
“Whatever the Shabbat of the land produces will be food for yourself, for your servant, for your maidservant, for your hired worker and for the outsider dwelling among you. Even for your livestock and for the animals that are in your land—all its increase will be enough food.” Leviticus 25:6-7 TLV
It is hard for a farmer to let go and to see his land unkept, untilled, unsowed and unharvested. But if he is to see blessing and future good crops, he must keep the Shmita Year. Because of violating this commandment Israel was exiled to Babylon for 70 years so the land will have all the Shabbats (all the Shmitas) that were withheld from it.
“Then the land will enjoy its Shabbatot all the days of its desolation, while you are in the land of your enemies. Then the land will rest and enjoy its Shabbatot.” Leviticus 26:34 TLV
In addition to letting go of farming, the Shmita Year was the year to let go of all Hebrew slaves that had served for the past six years. It was at this time that a Hebrew slave could be released or choose to stay with his master forever by piercing his ear. The release of slaves though did not always match the Shmita as a slave needed to have served for six previous years to qualify for release.
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve for six years, and in the seventh he is to go free, without payment.” Exodus 21:2 TLV
“But if the servant plainly states, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children, and I will not go out free,’ then his master is to bring him to God, then take him to a door or to a doorpost. His master is to pierce his ear through with an awl, and he will serve him forever.” Exodus 21:5-6 TLV
Debts were also forgiven and released during the Shmita. The whole economy would be zeroed! No one would owe anything to anyone! This is why until today tax authorities in Israel and other countries demand to keep papers for 7 years. This is based on the Shmita. Even concerning your tithes, since the Torah instructs that withholding your holy tithes from YHVH and His Levitical Priesthood incurred a 20% penalty, all this would be forgiven at the Shmita and people could restart tithing with a clean slate.
“At the end of every seven years you are to cancel debts. This is how you are to cancel debts: every creditor is to release what he has loaned to his neighbor. He must not force his neighbor or his brother to repay, for Adonai’s debt cancellation has been proclaimed. A foreigner you may force, but your hand is to release whatever your brother owes you.” Deuteronomy 15:1-3 TLV
This forgiveness of debts would actually prevent poverty!
“However, there should be no poor among you, for Adonai will surely bless you in the land Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess.” Deuteronomy 15:4 TLV
Even if we are not farmers and even if you are not a Jew, the laws of the Shmita affect you. Normally during Shmita years the stock exchange “falls”. One must be ready for this.
The land that is not allowed a rest will be depleted of vital minerals and the produce will decrease in quality. What makes the Land of Israel the “Land flowing with milk and honey” is keeping the laws of the Shmita Year. The Land gets replenished every 7th year and the produce keeps on increasing in quality. Anyone that has eaten fruits and vegetables in Israel will attest to the fact that the produce in Israel and the taste of it is of a higher quality and category than in most other places. It is because of the Shmita that this is made possible. As the Land gets its rest every 7th year, the consequent crops get better and better, for the Land gets richer and richer.
The Shmita Year can be a year of unprecedented circumstances that will demand a deeper trust in YHVH. Rabbi and I have experienced that every 7th year He shifts us. All our moves of house, location and ministry shiftings have happened during Shmita years. We have had to let go of our plans, preconceived ideas and agendas. Often, we have had to let go of our belongings or possessions that we cannot carry so we can move with Him.
Sometimes the move is a spiritual move, like what is Yah demanding of His Bride during this Shmita. He shows me He is calling His Bride to let go of all the “good” religious traditions that are the enemy of the perfect ones. Christmas and Easter have been good traditions in the sense that they gave a festivity frame to western Christianity since the time of Constantine.
It was during the Council of Nicea of 325 that he, together with the gentile bishops of easter Rome, called to “have nothing in common with the Jews”. Since the faith in a Messiah is a Jewish thing and Yeshua the savior is Jewish, this left the new emerging western Christianity depleted of meaning, identity, traditions and Torah. This granted the possibility to emperor Constantine and his bishops to control the masses, to have a firm grip on the church by introducing and legalizing Roman content, pagan traditions and Roman feasts to appease the hunger of the people for structure and meaning.
However, when you trade with satan you end depleted. He always promises glitz and glam, but though appearing shiny it is fake and empty. With Shabbat and the Hebrew Biblical feasts banned, then Sunday sabbath, Easter and Christmas were instituted as a drug to the masses that needed to have context to their faith – except the context was borrowed from the pagan Roman traditions and dates of sun worship.
As time went by, Christians became accustomed to being identified and defined by these pagan traditions. Most of the hostilities and pogroms against the Jews happened during Christmas, New Year and Easter celebrations. Many of these “celebrations” became an orgy of hatred against the Jews that were made collectively guilty for the death of Jesus Christ.
Since western Christianity divorced from its Jewish Roots and foundations, it was defined by the Roman feasts of Sun worship, Baal and Ishtar. Thus, Easter was named that, as it is celebrated during the time ritual sexual orgies were taking place in Ishtar’s temples. Yeshua was crucified on Passover and rose from the dead three days later during the Feast of First Fruits, but to celebrate according to the truth, traditions and timing of the Hebrew Scriptures was forbidden by the Christian Church born in Rome and was termed “judaizing”. There were times in history where this was punishable by death.
Since according to Roman traditions and superstitions birthdays were celebrated, they also borrowed the pagan feast of Saturnalia as the timing and traditions for Christmas. The darkest witchcraft winter solstice day of the year is chosen as Christ’s birthday. This was the time that the sun god Tammuz is born of his mother Semiramis (a derivative of the goddess of fertility Ishtar).
Thus, Christmas and Easter and Sunday worship became the hallmark of “being a Christian” versus “being a Jew” full of what Christian church fathers called “Jewish vomit and superstition” such as Shabbat, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, the Divinely Appointed times that the God of Israel had instituted forever.
This separated and made an indelible mark of divorce between the Jews and the Christians: it was the feasts that each celebrated. The Roman Jesus Christ was celebrated Roman pagan style while the Jewish Yeshua (whose name was forbidden to be uttered) was celebrated according to His Father’s instructions in the Torah.
There is a reason why the Holy Scriptures do not explicitly mention the date of birth of Messiah. It is because the Bible tells us that the day of death needs to be remembered, not the day of birth.
“Better is a good reputation than precious oil and the day of death than the day of birth.” Ecclesiastes 7:1 TLV
Though the wise men from the East came to celebrate Yeshua after His birth and brought Him expensive gifts, we do not know when they came or when Yeshua was born.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great gladness. And when they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Miriam; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11 TLV
No one in the Bible ever celebrated birthdays. This is a Roman tradition. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with celebrating the life of our loved ones at the time of their birth. The Torah does not forbid it. However, it would be strange to celebrate your birthday many months after your actual date, and it would be ungodly to celebrate it with pagan traditions that the Word expressly prohibits. Yeshua admonished us not to break the commandment of God for the sake of our traditions (Matthew 15:3).
I can assure you that the Jewish Messiah was not born on the witchcraft winter solstice of Saturnalia renamed Christmas. Some scholars, including myself, believe he was born on the first day of Sukkot-Tabernacles and was circumcised on the 8th day during the Feast of Simcha Torah or rejoicing over the Torah – as He is the Word, the Torah made flesh. By all means let us celebrate Him at that time.
“Speak to Bnei-Yisrael, and say, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Feast of Sukkot, for seven days to Adonai. On the first day there is to be a holy convocation—you are to do no laborious work. For seven days you are to bring an offering by fire to Adonai. The eighth day will be a holy convocation to you, and you are to bring an offering by fire to Adonai. It is a solemn assembly—you shall do no laborious work.” Leviticus 23:34-36 TLV
Interestingly Sukkot is the Biblical Feast that requires the most giving of all feasts. A huge amount of sacrifices were offered on the altar at the Temple in Jerusalem, more than at all the other feasts combined!
“Three times a year all your males are to appear before Adonai your God in the place He chooses—at the Feast of Matzot, the Feast of Shavuot, and the Feast of Sukkot. No one should appear before Adonai empty-handed—” Deuteronomy 16:16 TLV
If Yeshua was born on Sukkot, then He was conceived in Hanukkah, a historical apocryphal Jewish Feast that falls mostly in December. It is based on true events and the triumph of the Light of Torah over the darkness of Greek pagan worship. It would be fitting for the Light of the World to be conceived during Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Lights, when the Menorah of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rekindled.
However, note that the Word is very explicit about Yeshua’s death. It happened on the Feast of Passover and His resurrection on the Feast of First Fruits during the Passover week celebrations (and not on “Easter” which means Ishtar). Easter eggs and bunnies are pagan traditions that came with the fertility worship of Ishtar adopted by western Christianity.
Later on, Martin Luther during the 16th century introduced a new German style of Christmas that was shinier and more attractive. He borrowed the tradition from the worship of the sun god Tammuz by using an evergreen tree during the dead of winter and by making it the center of the family tradition. The tree would be decorated, and gifts would be put at the foot of the tree. All these were traditions borrowed from Roman pagan worship and they took over western Protestant Christianity, opposing YHVH’s explicit instructions against it as it is a reminiscent of Ashera or Ishtar worship.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt would import this to America in grand style, improving upon British Queen Victoria who loved her Christmas trees big and shiny and the Christmas celebrations lavish. Under FDR Christmas became highly commercialized in America with many more traditions and trappings. During the hard times following the recession, Christmas would become the “drug of the masses” making people feel good one time a year. The media revolved around the spirit of Christmas, luring people to buy more and more gifts. Thus it became highly commercialized as the explicit message was “if you love me, you give me big and expensive gifts”. Many good Christian parents fell into yearly debts to show love by buying expensive gifts.
Those who could not afford it would fall into depression and their children would feel second class. And if you did not have a family at Christmas you would spend it depressed, dejected and rejected in a bar somewhere. Many people become drunk on Christmas and many commit suicide. It is the season with the highest rate of suicide and drunk driving related deaths.
The pagan roots of Christmas bring satan on the scene and demons who cause depression, accidents and suicide. The masses are thus manipulated and deep in debt for one more year. And where is Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah in all of this? He is nowhere to be found, as this is not His Holy Feast. It is borrowed from sun worship and it’s all about the tree.
“Hear the word that Adonai speaks to you, house of Israel, Thus says Adonai: “Do not learn the way of the nations or be frightened by signs of the heavens—though the nations are terrified by them. The customs of the peoples are useless: it is just a tree cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a chisel. They decorate it with silver and gold, and fasten it with hammer and nails so it won’t totter.” Jeremiah 10:1-4 TLV
The Puritans forbade all Christmas celebrations in 19th century America under penalty of imprisonment, calling it IDOLATRY because of its pagan origins and traditions. Idolatry or worship rooted in paganism brings an untold amount of curses. This happens even when we are ignorant and have good intentions. Elijah challenged Israel who had a mixture of YHVH with Baal worship like the Church today,
“Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If Adonai is God, follow Him; but if Baal is, follow him.” But the people did not answer him, not even a word.” 1 Kings 18:21 TLV
Trading with satan always makes us losers. Many people know that Christmas is pagan, but because of nostalgic thoughts of family memories they keep it going and do not let go! Holding onto something that God is asking to let go is a dangerous tradeoff.
Restoring the Hebrew Biblical Feasts will bring amazingly sweet family memories EVERY WEEK as we celebrate Shabbat with family and friends around the dinner table EVERY Shabbat. We will give our family members the gift of our time and presence every week! Families are restored when they keep and celebrate Shabbat together. Our love batteries get recharged EVERY week! And all this in a Hebrew Biblical context and not in a Roman pagan context. Yeshua would have never celebrated Sunday, Christmas and Easter but He definitely kept and celebrated Shabbat, Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot and even Hanukkah the Feast of Dedication (John 10).
What will define the Bride of Messiah in these End Times will be context and identity. Her context will be the Hebrew Biblical style worship and her identity will be restored into a Jewish Messiah and not a Roman Christ. This will also eradicate anti-Semitism from His Body and will UNITE us in Holy Worship. This unity will bring in the End Time Harvest of the Nations, the Salvation of Israel and Yeshua’s long awaited RETURN. Shabbat and Sukkot will continue to be celebrated during the Millennial Reign of Messiah.
“And it will come to pass, that from one New Moon to another, and from one Shabbat to another, all flesh will come to bow down before Me,” says Adonai.” Isaiah 66:23 TLV
Then all the survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot, and to celebrate Sukkot. Furthermore, if any of the nations on earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot, they will have no rain. Zechariah 14:16-17 TLV
This Shmita Year YHVH, the God of Israel, is saying to His People: Let Go of the Roman Christ, with his Roman feasts and pagan Christmas and Easter traditions, and worship Me as a Jewish Messiah! Then your spiritual life, soul and body will be replenished and restored, and you will become a rich and fruitful land – My Bride, pure and holy, filled with My glory.
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