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For Such a Time as This

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"A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you priests who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?'" Malachi 1:6

The Torah portion for this week, Toldot, which means "offspring," is from Genesis 25:19 28:9, and the Haftorah is from Malachi 1:1-2:7.

Both Jews and Christians believe in the coming of the Messiah. All of us eagerly anticipate that time when there will be peace on earth and the world will be filled with knowledge of God and love for our Creator. I once heard a prominent rabbi say, "The Messiah is not delayed because of the bad people in the world. He's not coming because of the good people good people who aren't doing their jobs."

We, who know better, must be better. If we are fortunate enough to know God and to know His Word, it is our duty to make the world a better place.

In this week's Haftorah reading, God scolded Israel, specifically the priests, whose chief responsibility was to serve God. Just as Esau showed contempt for his birthright, "Esau despised his birthright" (Genesis 25:34), God accused the priests of having contempt for their position, "By saying that the LORD's table is contemptible" (Malachi 1:7).

The priests (and Esau) were given a special role to play in the service of God and in bringing God's people closer to Him, but they despised their roles. They took no joy in their positions and did a less than satisfactory job. What a huge insult to the God who had given them such positions in the first place!

I am reminded of a verse from the book of Esther. As you may remember, Esther was chosen to be the queen of Persia and she wielded a considerable amount of power. However, when her Uncle Mordecai came to her and requested she intervene on behalf of the Jewish people who had been condemned to death by the evil Haman, Esther hesitated.

Maybe she would be killed for trying to change the king's mind; maybe she would lose her position. But Mordecai reminded her with some of the most powerful words ever written: "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14). In other words, "If God has placed you in a position to further His purposes, you must do so! That's probably why you were given that position in the first place!"

Friends, we who know and love the Bible are God's servants, His priests, who have the ability to enlighten the world and bring people closer to Him. This is the time and this is the place. Wherever God has placed you, you need to serve Him in that role. If you have political clout, use it. If you have wealth, share it. If you have an audience, speak. If you have the ability to make someone's day a bit brighter, do it. For such a time as this.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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