Knowing God’s Promises, פרשת חיי שרה, Parashat Chayei Sarah, Bits of Torah Truths

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In the Hebrew bible, there are two words that are used to describe blessing, the word ברוך (Baruch) and the word אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei). According to the Torah, the language of “blessing” is given by the Hebrew word ברוך (Baruch) “to bless.” The word ברוך (Baruch) is derived from the root word ברך meaning “to kneel.” The root word for ברוך (Baruch) provides us with the Hebraic way of understanding what it means to bless someone is to kneel down and serve the one who is being blessed. This servanthood attitude found in the word ברוך (Baruch) is the way in which the Lord God Almighty would bless all the peoples of this earth in the seed of Abraham by His Son who would come as a prophet, priest, and king in the role of a servant. The servant nature of ברוך (Baruch) is important to keep in mind while we ask the question what it means to be a blessing and to be blessed by God according to the Torah? Studying the Hebrew Scriptures, there are two ways for understanding a blessing, (i) to be a blessing to others and (ii) to receive a blessing from someone and thereby being “blessed.” In other words, one is either the source of the blessing or the receiver of the blessing.

Another way of looking at blessing, is for us to be a blessing to God in heaven. What does it mean to be a blessing to God? This may be understood as our having faith and then living faithfully before Him! This act of being faithful is being a blessing unto God. This concept is found in the Hebrew letter Nun (נ) which is used in Hebrew words at the opening and middle positions, and at the end of a word, we used the final form (ן). The bent over shape of the letter Nun (נ) lends to the rabbinic interpretation on the word “faithful” which is unique in the sense that this word begins and ends with the letter Nun (נֶאֱמַן) written in the nif’al construction meaning “to be true.” The Talmud Bavli Shabbat 104a characterizes the common form of the nun as “bent over, humble, and faithful” in the following way:

Talmud Bavli Shabbat 104a
הו זה שמו של הקדוש ברוך הוא זח טי כל ואם אתה עושה כן הקדוש ברוך הוא זן אותך וחן אותך ומטיב לך ונותן לך ירושה וקושר לך כתר לעולם הבא מם פתוחה מם סתומה מאמר פתוח מאמר סתום נון כפופה נון פשוטה נאמן כפוף נאמן פשוט

The children continued to interpret the letters. Heh vav: That is the principal name of the Holy One, Blessed be He. Zayin ḥet, tet yod, kaf lamed: And if you do so, the Holy One, Blessed be He, feeds [zan] you, and shows you favor [ḥan], and bestows goodness [meitiv] upon you, and gives you an inheritance [yerusha], and ties a crown [keter] for you in the World to Come [la’olam haba]. The open mem and closed mem indicate that the Torah contains an open statement, understood by all, and an esoteric statement. The bent nun and the straight nun at the end of a word refer to a faithful person who is bent [ne’eman kafuf] and is modest now, who will ultimately become a well-known faithful person [ne’eman pashut].

The rabbis say the long, straight line of the final form represents “straight and unboundedly faithful.” The idea is the letter Nun (נ) carries this being bent over shape which is alluded to as being faithful. In addition to this, it is interestingly how this form of the letter is also found in the middle position for the Hebrew word poor (עָנָי) and humble (צָנוּעַ). This is interpreted as when one takes a vow, he is to be faithful, lowly, and of a humble state of mind. Figuratively speaking, bent over from the weight of life’s challenges, one must not just bend down and search deep within to find the strength to carry on, but also be humble and faithful to seek the Lord’s help to do so. In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Chayei Sarah, the servant of Abraham was humble and faithful in his task to find a wife for his son Isaac. The characteristic of the letter nun coupled with its connection to the words for faithful, poor, and humble, allude to a humble and faithful servant who is transformed by his relationship with God. When one has faith and lives by that faith he/she is able to straighten out (ן) and again stand tall to overcome anything. This is how we understand the Lord blesses the way of the faithful servant, just as we see happening in this week’s Torah portion.

According to Parashat Chai Sarah, Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. Upon arriving at the place Abraham had instructed him to go, Abraham’s servant conducted an experiment which would show him whether his mission was successful. His faith in God was significant believing in his prayer the Lord would answer him. Being faithful, the Lord God answered his prayer bringing the woman God had prepared for Isaac. The way he tested this girl was to understand whether she was virtuous from within. Rebecca responded exactly how Abraham’s servant requested in prayer to the Lord, she gave him a drink of water, and then watered all of his camels. The example that we are given is of faith in God as the One who guides His people. From the Torah portion we are able to understand how the Lord God Almighty guides us if we are walking in His ways of truth. This is the kind of man Abraham had sent to look for a wife for his son. It is in this way both faith and obedience are connected. Abraham instructed his servant and he had faith, and he was faithful to seek the Lord’s help and that the Lord would lead him to find the girl that was prepared for Isaac. We also see how the Lord God guides His children by way of His angel (Bereshit / Genesis 24:7 The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. NASB). The Lord God prepares the way for us and empowers us to walk in His ways and to be able to sense His leading us in our lives. As a result, we live our lives by faith just as Abraham did knowing that the Lord God is our guide.

The point of studying God’s word is so that we can know about God’s promises, and what the Lord expects of us. The expectation is of applying God’s word to our lives, to repent when we sin, and to give our lives to him no matter what He asks us to do. The ultimate outcome is the sovereignty of God in our lives. When we see the Lord God working in our lives, just as we read how the Lord worked in Abraham and his servant’s lives, we get a great respect for the Lord in His mercy. The fear of God is foundational to our faith and learning Torah is what leads us to obedience as a sacred undertaking. Yeshua came to empower us to live according to the Spirit and doing so by the power of God in our lives to overcome sin. Sin by definition is violation of God’s commands, therefore, the power of God in our lives to overcome sin is another way of saying the Lord God works in our lives to obey His Torah. By walking in the Spirit, we fulfill God’s word in our lives (we live it), this gives us the proper understanding of the text which leads then to a lifestyle of holiness dedicated to God with His help. This is how Abraham’s servant viewed the God of Abraham in helping him with his task to find a wife for Isaac. Similarly, our faith in the Lord God should be just as significant believing the Lord hears us and answers our prayers. Abraham instructed his servant and he was faithful the Lord would lead him to find the girl the God had prepared for Isaac. In this week’s Torah portion, we can see how the Lord God guides His children by faith. The Lord God Almighty prepares the way for us to walk in His will and we are supposed to be sensitive enough in the spirit to sense His leading us in our lives. These things come by studying God’s word, being humble, lowly, and faithful, drawing near in prayer, and walking in God;s ways. As a result, we live our lives by faith just as Abraham did knowing that the Lord God is our guide, our help, and the One who loves us!

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!