“If someone among you is needy, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which Adonai your God is giving you, you are not to harden your heart or shut your hand from giving to your needy brother. No, you must open your hand to him and lend him enough to meet his need and enable him to obtain what he wants. Guard yourself against allowing your heart to entertain the mean-spirited thought that because the seventh year, the year of sh’mittah is at hand, you would be stingy toward your needy brother and not give him anything; for then he may cry out to Adonai against you, and it will be your sin. Rather, you must give to him; and you are not to be grudging when you give to him. If you do this, Adonai your God will bless you in all your work, in everything you undertake — for there will always be poor people in the land. That is why I am giving you this order, ‘You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.’" Deuteronomy 15: 7-11 CJB
No this isn't a blog post about tithing where I try to guilt you into giving us money so that we can keep our lights on. Actually, this is a post about how we are commanded to give to one another when our brothers are in need. When we first come into keeping Torah, we begin to understand that the commandment to keep Shabbat and the commandment about the meat we eat are not negotiable. We are diligent in ensuring that we inspect everything we do on Shabbat or the ingredients in our food to make sure that we obey YHVH completely in those areas. As a whole, the Hebrew Roots Movement has a tremendous amount of zeal when it comes to our attempts to love YHVH our Elohim with all heart, soul, mind and spirit. We debate one another about which calendar we should keep, what day we keep a feast on, or when the New Moon is. That zeal is evident when we think towards our Heavenly Father....
....... but what about our zeal for loving our brother?
Why would YHVH give us a commandment to give to our brothers in need? Our attitude toward giving to our brothers will show us what is in our heart concerning the ones around us. I want to be careful how I write this next statement and I hope that you will hear what my heart is concerning this matter. Our relationship with Yeshua YHVH is an individual relationship. When judgement day comes, the moment that we stand before Him will be one on one and based on our own personal actions (Romans 14:10). But the actions we have toward each other will be part of that judgment. We have focused for so long on being in right relationship with YHVH that many of us have forsaken any attempt to be in right relationship with our neighbor.
To turn a blind eye to a brother in need in the community is the equivalent of the words of Cain's flippant response to the Most High Elohim with regard to the status of his own brother; "Am I my brother's keeper?" Genesis 4:9. In the above commandment, YHVH shouts the answer to us, "YES!" Every single member of the community will at some point need help to overcome an obstacle placed in their way on the path of life and the biggest test as to the spiritual state of a community is when that obstacle is financial.
"For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21 CJB
The words of our Rabbi will be true no matter what our actions are. If we choose to spend money on selfish gains and then close our hand to our needy brother, then we have demonstrated where our heart is. If we choose to help our brother financially, we will show that he is worth something to us and we will place substance in our words when we tell others to love others as themselves (Leviticus 19:18).
Matthew 25 records a parable of Yeshua in which He speaks of 10 virgins who go out to wait for the Bridegroom. They all fall asleep and when the call goes out that the Bridegroom approaches, five are ready with extra oil while five are without oil. Five of them leave to go find more oil and while they are gone, the Bridegroom comes and escorts the sensible five virgins into the wedding feast. The foolish five are left outside. Many commentaries and debates have arisen about the meaning of this parable but given that the next parable is part of the same conversation, I believe it will shed some light as to what our Rabbi is speaking of.
"For it will be like a man about to leave home for awhile, who entrusted his possessions to his servants. To one he gave five talents [equivalent to a hundred years’ wages]; to another, two talents; and to another, one talent — to each according to his ability. Then he left. The one who had received five talents immediately went out, invested it and earned another five. Similarly, the one given two earned another two. 18 But the one given one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money." Matthew 25: 14-18 CJB
Notice that this has to do with money. When the master returns, he will settle accounts and will be gracious to those who utilize what He has given them. But to the one who was stingy with his master's money, he reacts harshly.
Then Yeshua goes somewhere interesting with the parable and gives an explanation of what he expects us to do:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, accompanied by all the angels, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The ‘sheep’ he will place at his right hand and the ‘goats’ at his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you made me your guest, I needed clothes and you provided them, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the people who have done what God wants will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you our guest, or needing clothes and provide them? When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ The King will say to them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!’ Matthew 25: 31-40 CJB
To learn about how to please YHVH and how to keep Torah is a wonderful thing, but we must not forget to take care of our brothers because a failure to do so will cost us dearly.
“Then he will also speak to those on his left, saying, ‘Get away from me, you who are cursed! Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me no food, thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, a stranger and you did not welcome me, needing clothes and you did not give them to me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, needing clothes, sick or in prison, and not take care of you?’ And he will answer them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you refused to do it for the least important of these people, you refused to do it for me!’ They will go off to eternal punishment, but those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.” Matthew 25: 41-46 CJB
Notice that the ones on the right are the ones who had compassion, were generous, and went to work in caring for their brothers who were needy. These were the ones who obeyed the commandment from the Torah in which they are to provide for their brothers when they are in need. Each one of us is indwelt with the Holy Spirit who will prompt us when someone is cowering in the corner because their circumstances have beaten them. We can of course, pray for them, but how much will our prayers be heard if we ignore the commandment to give to our needy brother? Proverbs says something interesting:
If a person will not listen to Torah, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9 CJB
To close your hand when the Torah commands you to open it negates your prayer to YHVH. How effective do you think an abominable prayer will be for that person?
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