Cheshbon Nefesh

Turn the Other Cheek

In Middle Eastern culture it is customary to use the right hand for most activities. Striking a person on the right cheek with the right hand would require using a backhanded motion. A backhanded slap is considered twice as offensive as an openhanded slap and thus subject to double the fine.

6-minute read

Tisha B’Av and the Physician’s Advice

On the ninth day of the month of Av (Tisha B’Av), 70 CE, the world lost the Holy Temple, which was meant to be the house of prayer for all nations. Now not one stone of it rests upon another, as our Master predicted. What destroyed it? It wasn’t Rome.

9-minute read

Three Weeks to Wake Up

Sometimes, in the case of tragedies, there is no way to reframe or sugar-coat things. They are simply hard. Can we face the future with courage and faith? I believe we can, if we remain watchful, silent (maybe just quieter) and humble. May God give us much grace as we enter into the three weeks of mourning.

8-minute read

We Have Only Done Our Duty

When the servant is done working in the field, why does the master impose another phase of work on him? Yeshua’s parable demonstrates that visible observance of the commandments is only part of our duty before HaShem. Our full obligation runs much deeper.

8-minute read

Better Than the World to Come

When we enter the World to Come we will be like the angels who behold the infinite light of God. We will be like the Messiah who beholds the glory of the Father. That’s why repentance and choosing to do right is something that only has real meaning now.

6-minute read

Let Us Not Wander from Home

If we entertain negative and angry thoughts, feeding them and reinforcing them, they will loom larger and larger, drowning out the peace that is ours to remain within. We may find ourselves in the wrong place, hiding under a bed, or struggling against the very arms that are trying to carry us to safety.

5-minute read

Krazy Glue Your Marriage

The Bible says it’s a man’s job to cleave to his wife, not her job to cling to him. The Hebrew word for “hold fast” is davak. It’s difficult to translate into English: “cleave to,” “cling to,” “stick to,” “hold fast to,” etc. In Modern Hebrew, the word means “glue.”

8-minute read

Letting out Water

How much is that argument worth to you? Does winning the argument and convincing your spouse justify denying God’s providence, engaging in the works of the flesh, giving opportunity to the devil, grieving the Holy Spirit, and forfeiting the kingdom of heaven?

6-minute read

Better to Live in the Garage!

The Bible says, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 25:24), a saying that is the ancient equivalent of, “Better to live in the garage than under the same roof with that woman.”

6-minute read

Don't Let the Light Go Out

The real issue, as my Rabbi pointed out, is this. How are we going to keep our light burning? How are we going to make sure that we have enough oil to keep shining, keep burning, and keep doing what we need to do to shed a little bit of light in our corner of the world?

4-minute read

It Won't Be Cold Forever

Perhaps you are cold too. Perhaps you feel as though you always will be. Allow me to remind you that as surely as the seasons change, so will your life circumstances. You will be not cold, in pain, lonely, and in this situation forever. Life is dynamic, change is to be expected.

3-minute read

Are You Truly Grateful?

They were literally not allowed to say one negative thing to each other for the entire next week. They were to only say positive things. If they had nothing positive to say, they were to remain silent. This meant no nagging, and no complaining.

4-minute read

Don Henley, Elul, and Forgiveness

Without directly referencing God, Yeshua, the Bible, Judaism, or Elul, Don Henley’s song gets to the heart of some matters that are very important for us to consider as we approach the high holidays.

6-minute read

They Are Our Sons

Here in Israel, everyone is a Jewish mother or father to the soldiers who serve in the IDF. It is not uncommon for a stranger to go out of his or her way to help a soldier in any way they can. The soldiers are like our own children.

4-minute read

Is History Important?

This is, by and large, an ahistorical generation. What has gone before is ignored and of little interest. During the Three Weeks—and any time of reflection and remembrance—we do well to consider why history is, in fact, important and what is lost when we do not deem it so.

6-minute read

Lessons from the Cat

I kept hearing my daughter say, "I want to help you! I am trying to help you," and I knew this was another vivid reminder of how the LORD longs to help us, often to no avail. We see something that looks like fun, and before we know it, we are caught.


4-minute read

The Steps of the Righteous

Last year I began to find myself less enthusiastic than I had been at the school for Palestinian kids. I wondered at the reasons. Yes, we have been through terror attacks and operations by the IDF. I have mourned with those on both sides who have lost people and rejoiced at celebrations for weddings and graduations. What was wrong?

5-minute read

Ordinary Heroes

I have heard that this is a narcissistic generation, and that it is a generation in which people care only about money. I have heard all these things stated as though they are true. My experience, however, proves that this is not always the case! I am grateful and fortunate to know many heroes.

4-minute read

Bad Ideas with Good Intentions

I’d like to encourage you to think about boundaries in your life. Think about your boundaries and maybe where you’ve crossed them with God. If you have crossed the line, turn around before it hurts you any worse. Boundaries are his kind way of marking out “safe places” for us to stay within.

8-minute read

Unleavened Bread and Unleavened Deeds

From Exodus 12:17 we learn the importance of being very careful not to allow dough intended for unleavened bread to become leavened. The same verse instructs us regarding how to please God with our actions.

5-minute read

The Downfall of America?

Yesterday, I heard a short comment from Dennis Prager, a prominent US talk show host. He speaks on topics that range from ethics, politics, marriage, and everything in between. He was expressing his concerns about several of the current GOP presidential candidates, about the baseless hatred that is now taking place in the political arena.

5-minute read

A Blessing for Bad News

Every experience life has to offer, from the mundane to the extraordinary, is ensconced in specific and verbally spoken blessings by the traditional Jew. There is even a blessing for when one hears exceptionally bad news, such as the death of a close friend or family member. But why?

7-minute read

If Only Abraham had Obeyed

When terror arises it is easy to entertain the sentiment, “If only Abraham had been obedient and not jumped the gun, we wouldn’t be in this mess today!” Nevertheless, we must remember Ishmael’s blessing and pray for his redemption.

7-minute read

Moving Forward in Paris

At first I heard what I thought were fireworks. A rapid series of low concussions were immediately followed by the sound of shattering glass. In one split second, it was pandemonium. I saw two young men rush out of the restaurant and throw themselves into a car that sped away as quickly as it had magically appeared.

7-minute read

Love Speaks Louder than Words

It's tense in the Holy Land. There have been fatal attacks on young Jewish families, mothers, children, soldiers, and fathers. There have been demonstrations and Palestinian kids and youth have been killed. Our soldiers are kids, often confronting angry mobs. Their demonstrators are also kids, who feel as if they have very little to lose.

5-minute read

Jews and Gentiles, Rebuilding Ruins Together

As a revolutionary movement, we must continue to work for the reconciliation of Israel and the Messiah. We must reconstruct these destroyed ramparts and take our place as leaders in all of Israel and amongst the nations, and it would appear that the catalyst that launches us to this foretold headship correlates to our relationship with the Sabbath.

7-minute read

God, Where Are You?

To cope with the recent attacks Israelis are taking self-defense classes and buying personal weapons such as pepper spray. Most of us have had to change something about our daily routines. I’ve had to change my running route to run at a later hour when I’m not so vulnerable by being alone.

6-minute read

The Wedding

We joined together to bless, to encourage, and to rejoice with the couple. For a brief instant, our grievances melted away in the mutually satisfying revelry and camaraderie in our approval of the union. We forget ourselves in service to someone else. This is how it should be.

6-minute read

Systematic Good-ology

Let’s not fall behind in doing the kind of work the Master spent so much time exhorting us to do—the Sermon-on-the-Mount kind of work, the work of learning to be good, the work of consistently making ethically sound choices. In doing so, we will grow to become more like Jesus.

11-minute read

A Wandering Jew on Park Avenue

What does Judaism look like outside of our Messianic circles? One Messianic Jew has many anecdotes from her personal tour of New York City’s greatest synagogues, everywhere from ultra-Orthodox to Reform. Never is there a dull moment in Manhattan’s Jewish community.

6-minute read

The Power of Teshuvah

All of us can experience seasons in life where we are in a deep pit. And it may seem so ominous, and so devastating, and so dark, that there seems to be no way out. But the truth is, with God, there is always a path toward the light. Even at the last minute, God welcomes our return.

6-minute read

The Fire of a Thought

Waking up to devastating news is sometimes not so uncommon in Israel, unfortunately. But do we really stop to think about the wellspring of the evil that is done? We all would do well to take inventory of our own thoughts. We are in more danger from within than we will ever be from without.

25-minute read

Outside the Circle

Every year in Israel ceremonies are held throughout the country to commence Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for those who perished in the Holocaust. This day should also be remembered by Christians throughout the world. It was the Christian silence that also contributed to the tragic loss of so many lives.

7-minute read