Russ Resnik encountered Yeshua as Messiah in the early 70s as a young radical in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Later, he was drawn into the Messianic Jewish movement and founded Adat Yeshua, a Messianic congregation in Albuquerque, NM, which he led for nearly 20 years. Today, he serves as executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), an association dedicated to establishing, strengthening, and multiplying congregations for Yeshua within the wider Jewish community. Russ is ordained as a Messianic Rabbi through the UMJC and also maintains credentials as a clinical mental health counselor. He has an international speaking and teaching ministry, contributes regularly to Messianic Jewish publications, and is the author of Gateways to Torah: Joining the Ancient Conversation on the Weekly Portion,Creation to Completion: A Guide to Life’s Journey from the Five Books of Moses, and Divine Reversal: The Transforming Ethics of Jesus. Russ and his wife Jane live in Albuquerque and have four children and seven grandchildren.
Travel always provides lots of opportunities for practicing the middot—standing in a TSA security line is ideal for developing patience; staying strapped into a narrow seat on a crowded plane is perfect for equanimity; and there are boundless opportunities for humility. On my latest trip I had a chance to learn about the middah of generosity.
It’s hard to imagine a more enthusiastic response to God than the one commanded in the Shema: “You shall love Hashem your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” (Es. 6:6)
Learning the middah of honor during the week of Purim is a great fit, because the book of Esther is all about honor—its attractions, its perils, and, in the end, its proper use.
Equanimity—what’s so great about it? Aren’t we supposed to be passionate, fired-up, and zealous for what’s right? Isn’t the problem among Yeshua-followers, at least in the western world, that we’re too complacent? And if that’s so, what’s the difference between equanimity and complacency?
One of the biggest surprises in the narrative of Genesis comes during Yaakov’s reunion with Esau when he returns to the land of Canaan. When Esau comes to meet his brother with a menacing entourage of 400 men, but when he sees Yaakov, he runs to embrace him and weep together with him at their reunion (Gen. 33:4).
As the 2012 presidential race heats up, I’m struck—and troubled—by how invested in one candidate or party many believers seem to be. It’s good to be involved in the political process, but the passion with which some believers demonize the opposition and line up with one party line or another suggests that they really believe the political system holds the key to life’s toughest problems. They’ve forgotten that all this represents a kingdom that we’re not really part of.
When we realize that “love your neighbor as yourself” is part of the great commandment of the Shema (Mt. 22:37–40; Lk. 10:25–28), it increases our responsibility level substantially. A Torah expert talking with Messiah Yeshua realizes this increased responsibility and seeks to limit it with a question: “And who exactly is my neighbor?”
"Giving in the way of chesed requires that we go beyond the boundaries that are familiar and comfortable to us. We have to stretch into chesed or else it simply isn’t chesed." -- Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness
An older man is driving down the freeway and his car phone rings. When he answers, he hears his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on route 290. Please be careful!" "Tell me about it!" says Herman. "It's not just one car. It's hundreds of them!!!"
As it is said, And you shall love Hashem your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. . . .
And with all your might means with all your wealth. Another interpretation: With all your might means with every measure that he measures out for you, thank him much. —m.Berakhot 9:5