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Tim Hegg-Reading Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) at Sukkot
arm  2011-10-13 08:14:37

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Tim Hegg-Reading Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) at Sukkot

(Excerpts from "Qohelet and the Time of Our Rejoicing")
click here to download the entire study

From all of us at TorahResource and TorahResource Institute
May you have a most joyous and meaningful Sukkot!
Chag Semeach!

Sukkot reminds us of the goal to which we are heading: dwelling together in the presence of HaShem. Like the humble and transitory huts we built when we left Egypt, the sukkah we build at this festival reminds us that our freedom to worship HaShem is our wealth, and that even if we live in temporary structures our joy can be complete. For seven days the Almighty asks us to put away the comforts of our normal dwellings; to gather together in a humble sukkah; and to eat, drink, and enjoy the company of family and friends.

He does this to remind us of the real nature of joy. Apart from such reminders, we might be persuaded that our material possessions, our position in life, along with a host of other good things are more important than our relationships with God, family, and friends. This is why reading Qohelet is so appropriate at Sukkot. Shlomo had come to the realization that he had the power, wealth, and ability to seek out every avenue of pleasure upon this earth. And it appears that he went searching. In the end, what he found was that true joy could not be found in the pleasures of food or wine, nor in the luxurious surroundings available only to the wealthy. All of the wonderful aspects of life that his position and wealth could afford still left him searching for a deeper joy and satisfaction. What he discovered was that this joy is found in one’s acceptance of God’s blessings in the simple pleasures of family and friends, but that these could not be “stored up” for the future but could only be enjoyed in the fleeting moment. God’s blessings are like a beautiful sunset or breathtaking mountain scene early in the morning—images of beauty that cannot be perfectly captured even in the best photo. The moment of grandeur must be embraced with a blessing to HaShem, and then only savored in memory.

But the hug of a child, a kiss, a loving pat, and even the conversations about life and experience shared within the context of family and community are ever as grand as the sunset or mountain scene. Yet these moments are likewise fleeting and must be enjoyed as they come, embracing the event and blessing HaShem for it.

It is this fleeting nature of the best things in life that became central in Shlomo’s mind as he wrote Qohelet. And to communicate this idea he chose the word hevel. This word always describes a “vapor” or a “breath” elsewhere in the Tanach (e.g., Is 57:13; Prov 21:6). Unfortunately, the English translations of Qohelet have chosen words like “vanity” or “worthless” and even “meaningless” to translate hevel. But Shlomo is not telling us that things are worthless or meaningless. He is simply saying that they are transitory, fleeting, temporary. And that to expect deep and lasting joy from things that are temporary is foolish, and will always end in disappointment.

But the reason Shlomo’s words are so important for us to read and understand is because those things that are temporary or fleeting often appear to us as though they are not, or at least we pretend that they are not, and we may spend a lot of time and energy trying to collect these fleeting things so we can be happy. By reading these inspired words we are called again to the realization that a great many things in life are of a fleeting nature, and that we must recognize and appreciate those things that bring the greatest joy and are more permanent. . . (read more: download the entire study)


We are in Week 6 of the First Quarter
First Quarter of Classes

We are half way through our 1st Quarter at TRI, and grateful to the L-rd for His faithful provision. Nearly 40 students are enrolled in five different classes, and we continue to hear good reports of how the instruction being offered is opening new doors of learning in and appreciation for the Scriptures and the life of faith in Yeshua, our Messiah.

The five classes being offered this quarter are: (1) First Century Judaisms [Vanhoff], (2) How We Got Our Bible [Hegg], (3) Beginning Hebrew [Hegg], (4) Beginning Greek [Vanhoff], and (5) Parashot Studies [Hegg, Springer, Vanhoff].

Our online classes are being managed through Moodle, an open source course-management system utilized by many educational institutions. Moodle allows students and Instructors to exchange both written and audio files, and to maintain student-Instructor interaction on the subjects being taught. Class forums, also managed within Moodle, give students in each class the opportunity to exchange ideas and to dialog with fellow students as well as with the Instructor. So far, we have found Moodle to be very adequate for our online instruction and student participation.

TRI at the Society of Biblical Literature

TRI has secured a meeting room at the Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) annual meeting, being held in San Francisco, November 19–22, 2011. We will be hosting an evening meeting in which several papers will be read and discussed. We also hope that this meeting will afford students, prospective students, and others interested in TRI to meet the Instructors and staff and become better acquainted with the work of TRI.

We will receive final confirmation from the SBL by next week, detailing room assignment and date. We have requested Sunday evening, Nov 20, as our first option, and Monday evening, Nov 21 as an alternate choice. As soon as we receive confirmation, we will be sending out complete details about our meeting, including room location, exact time, the titles of papers to be read, and how you can register to attend. (This will be a free meeting–no registration fees or cost, but we will need to have an idea how many will be attending.)

So if you live in or near San Francisco, or plan to be in the Bay area on Nov 20 or 21, we hope you'll come. Keep an eye on your email inbox for all the details.

We are thankful …

As we reach the half-way mark in our first academic quarter at TRI, we give thanks to the Almighty for the manner in which our monthly needs have been met, and for the regular encouragement we receive, both from students and from those of you who are supporting us. It seems less than complete simply to say "Thank You!" to those of you who have faithfully supported TRI. But we hope that by this simply word of thanksgiving you realize what a vital part you play in making TRI a reality. Because of your willingness to partner with us in this endeavor, we have the grand opportunity to train leaders and teachers, both for the current Torah movement, and for messianic communities in the next generation.


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