Blessed are the Poor (in Spirit)

D’rash on Devarim 24:19-22, Shabbat, September 2. 2017

In Matthew 5.3—the first utterance of the Sermon of the Mount—says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  In Luke 6:20, Yeshua says, “Blessed are the poor.”  So, who are to be blessed in God’s kingdom—the poor in spirit or the poor in flesh? Yes, both.  V’eemru? (And let us say?) Sometimes the poor in flesh also need spiritual food.  Sometimes the material rich are especially poor in spirit. V’eemru?  Sometimes those who have received some spiritual nourishment are hungry for more! Would that be you?

Deut (Devarim) 24:19-21 commands a provision for the outsider, the orphan, and the widow—3 times!

Verse 19 commands: while reaping, leave a sheaf in the field.  So Ruth (both a widow and an outsider) gathered gleanings from the field of Boaz.  Verse 20 says leave some olives on the tree—for the outsider, the orphan, and for the widow. Verse 21 says, leave some grapes on the vine— for the outsider, for the orphan, and for the widow. When the Bible says something three times, it’s important. V’eemru?

Actually, the Bible commands provision for the outsider, the orphan, and the widow dozens of times!  For example, Deuteronomy 10:18-19 says, HaShem “enacts justice for the orphan and widow, and loves the outsider, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the outsider, for you were outsiders in the land of Egypt.” This mitzvah provides two motivations: 1) justice, for HaShem loves justice. (BTW, the theme of the next Tikkun Institute this winter will be Social Justice—because God and his prophets care so much about justice, so do most Jews to this day. Also many Millennials.)    2) Compassion—“for you were in outsider in the land of Egypt.” Since you have experienced what it’s like to be an outsider, you should have compassion—you should love the outsider.”  How many of you have ever experienced being an outsider?

This same motivation is given as the conclusion of our portion in Deuteronomy 19:22, “You are to remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. Therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.”  Moreover, verse 19 provides another motivation: “in order that Adonai your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”  Do it for justice; do it out of compassion; and do it and you will be blessed.”  Blessed are you when you bless the poor, the widow, the orphan and the outsider. V’eemru?

At this time, I’d like to invite Nick Ciccone to come up. Nick is an old friend of the congregation. He is also a contractor and just finished the demolition of the house on our property across the street—check it out—the Township inspector also checked it out and approved the work! Mazel tov!  Over breakfast this week, Nick told me about a ministry for orphans—so it thought it would apropos for him to share a bit about it with us….

 

How many of you can say, Baruch HaShem (bless the Name) for this ministry of blessing orphans?
I mentioned to Nick that the Lord has given Beit Simcha for some reason has a heart for orphans—with many adoptions as well as folks who have welcomed foster children and orphans from other countries in their homes.

Leviticus 23:22 also commands gleanings for the poor & the outsider: “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the furthest corners of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Rather you are to leave them for the poor and for the outsider. I am Adonai your God.” The context of this verse is interesting: Leviticus 23 describes all of the festivals of the Lord to Israel, and this verse occurs between the spring festivals (from Passover through Shavuot) and fall festivals (from Yom Teruah through Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret).

The spring festivals are also linked to the first coming of Messiah—his death & resurrection during Passover and Firstfruits, and His outpouring of the Ruach Kodesh on Shavuot.  The fall festivals (coming soon!) anticipate His second coming—with the blast of shofars, Israel’s national repentance and all the nations celebrating Sukkot (Tabernacles) in Messiah’s Kingdom (coming soon)!  So why interrupt describing the festivals to remind Israel to leave gleanings for the poor & the outsider?

Could it have something to do with the season that we are in now?

Could it have something to do with the cry of Yeshua’s heart in Luke 10:2, “The harvest truly is great but the laborers are few; therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest.”

Could it have something to do with the commandment that Messiah Yeshua gave His disciples—to go and make disciples of all nations?

Many of us responded to the message of JB Bernstein and committed to become laborers in the harvest.  Who would like to share a testimony about sharing the Besorah (Good News) with someone else?  Let’s much here to reflect on and discuss…. V’eemru?

Questions for Breakout Discussion

Who are to be blessed in God’s kingdom—the poor in spirit or the poor in flesh?

Who are the poor in spirit?

How should we bless them?

How can those who are materially rich be spiritual poor?

Why are many Americans—especially Jews—in this state?

Why does Deuteronomy 24:19-21 command 3 times—from the harvest, from the olive trees and from the vineyard—to leave a provision for the orphan, for the widow and for the outsider?

Why is doing so a matter of justice? What is justice?

Why is justice important to Jews? Why is justice important to Millennials? How can concern for social justice be a way for our community to share the Besorah with Jews and Millennials?

How does HaShem appeal to compassion as a motivation to provide for the orphan and the outsider?

Based on what the Torah says, how can we strengthen compassion in ourselves?

How does HaShem appeal to receiving a blessing as a motivation to provide for others?

Why is it a blessing to bless the poor—whether poor in flesh or poor in spirit?

How do you feel about Nick’s ministry for Ukrainian orphans? How could we help?

Yeshua promised his disciples that He would not leave them as orphans.

In what sense could the disciples have been orphans? How did Yeshua keep His promise?

Has He fulfilled this promise for you? Or is anyone here struggling with an orphan spirit and/or feeling a strong hunger for more of the Ruach Kodesh he promised to His disciples?

Leviticus 23:22 also commands gleanings for the poor and the outsider.

What is the context of this verse? What season in the festival cycle are we in now?

Why interrupt describing the festivals to remind Israel to leave gleanings for the poor & the outsider?

What is the connection with the cry of Yeshua regarding the harvest?

How many of you know Yeshua has sent you into the harvest?

How can we bring in a good and plentiful harvest for the Lord of the harvest?

JB Bernstein brought us a strong word warning us about coming before the judgment seat of God concerning how we treat those who are poor in Spirit. When you appear there, you want the Lord to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” rather than “What did you do?” (as in the parable of the talents).  He also urged us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  How did you respond to this word?

How can justice, or compassion, or promise of blessings also motivate us to go out with the Besorah?

A pressing need are those who have been devastated by the hurricane in the area of Houston, TX…Yesterday I sent an email about how you can said aid to Messianic congregations & families who have been effected, though the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (see email). The elders agreed that today we should take up an offering for them as well as give out of our budget congregational missions.

This sermon and questions may not to be reprinted in whole or in part without the express written consent of Messianic Rabbi Glenn D. Blank of Beit Simcha. Your generous support for our ministry and building project is appreciated!

Scripture references are mostly from The Tree of Life Version (TLV) though occasionally other versions. Verse citations provide Jewish numbering, with Christian numbering in parentheses.

 

 

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