Learning With Paul … and Paul

Today is Rosh Chodesh Av (see my previous post), beginning a period of mourning within Judaism called the “Nine Days” – beginning with the first of Av and culminating on the 9th of Av with the fast day known as Tisha B’Av.

But today is also a significant day for two other reasons – yesterday was the traditional yahrzeit of the Apostle Paul and today is the yahrzeit of Paul Philip Levertoff – two great talmidim of Yeshua, and heroes of our Messianic Jewish faith. The Vine of David blog has done a great job highlighting these two figures and their yahrzeits (see the above links). So instead of repeating what they already said, I would like to focus on something else.

It is traditional within Judaism, especially within Chasidic circles, to commemorate the yahrzeit of a great teacher by gathering together to study their works or to study Torah in honor of their memory. Therefore, I would like to do a little learning together from their works in honor of their memory:

The_Apostle_Paul_-_Rembrandt“For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it will be evident that such overwhelming power comes from G-d and not from us. We have all kinds of troubles, but we are not crushed; we are perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not abandoned; knocked down, yet not destroyed … We concentrate not on what is seen but on what is not seen, since things seen are temporary, but things not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:7-9,18)

And also a little teaching from Levertoff:

Levertoff“The Law is our treasure, in which we rejoice. It is a hidden treasure because the deepest spiritual meaning is as yet not made perfectly clear to us. Yet one thing we know: it is the revelation of G-d, and this makes it very precious to us. But the day will come when the divine mysteries of the Law will be unfolded by the Messiah, and we shall see G-d face to face. Then our souls will be filled with delight.” -Paul Philip Levertoff (Love and the Messianic Age, p. 58)

It is no accident that during this period of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the following exile of the Jewish people, that we also mourn the loss of these two great tzaddikim. Our longing for the restoration of our people from exile (both physically and spiritually), as well as the return of Mashiach, are central tenants of our faith. Therefore, during these nine days, let us join our people in not only mourning the loss of both Temples in Jerusalem and their surrounding calamities, but all the other catastrophes which have befallen the Jewish people during this season. And let us especially cry out for redemption, for Mashiach to return and usher in the Messianic Age.

As Levertoff once wrote, “It is the business of the Chasid to live now for the realization of this Messianic Age.”

Zichronam Livrachah – May their memories be a blessing, and may they continue to inspire us to prepare the world for the return of Mashiach.

*For some video learning from Levertoff, visit HERE.

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Simchat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue in West Haven, CT, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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