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Bits of Torah Truths, Parashat Kedoshim, Consecrate Yourself by Honoring Your Parents

This weeks reading is from Parsahat Kedoshim (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:1-20:27) the Lord spoke to Moshe saying we are to be holy (19:1-2), we are to honor our father and mother and not turn to idols or molten gods (19:3-4).  We are told not to steal, not to swear falsely, not to slander others, and not to hate your neighbor or brother (19:11-17).  We are commanded not to practice divination or soothsaying (19:26), do not make tattoos or marks on yourself (19:28), do not turn to mediums or spiritists (19:31).  We are to keep the Shabbat (19:30), do not do wrong to the stranger in the land (19:33-34), and keep correct weights and measures (19:35-37).  The Lord God states we are not to give our sons or daughters as a sacrifice to false gods (20:1-4).  We are to consecrate ourselves and be holy for our God is holy (20:7).  It is written that anyone who curses his mother or father is to be put to death (20:9), if one commits adultery with another man’s wife he is to be put to death (20:8), if a man lays with his father’s wife, daughter in law, incest, etc he is to be put to death (20:9-12), if a man lays with another man (Homosexuality) they are to be put to death and their blood is upon them (20:12).  The Scriptures say  if a man lays with an animal he is to be put to death (20:15) and the same for a woman who approaches any animal (20:16).  The reason for these commands Scripture says is because 20:23 “… you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.” (NASB)  Generally speaking, why do you think these commands are placed side-by-side, to be holy, to fear our parents, to obey the Shabbat, not turn to idols, the peace offering, and the profaning the holy thing and the name of the Lord?

ספר ויקרא פרק יט
א   וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב   דַּבֵּר אֶל-כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם: ג   אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם: ד   אַל-תִּפְנוּ אֶל-הָאֱלִילִם וֵאלֹהֵי מַסֵּכָה לֹא תַעֲשֹוּ לָכֶם אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם: ה   וְכִי תִזְבְּחוּ זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים לַיהוָֹה לִרְצֹנְכֶם תִּזְבָּחֻהוּ: ו   בְּיוֹם זִבְחֲכֶם יֵאָכֵל וּמִמָּחֳרָת וְהַנּוֹתָר עַד-יוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בָּאֵשׁ יִשָּׂרֵף: ז   וְאִם הֵאָכֹל יֵאָכֵל בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי פִּגּוּל הוּא לֹא יֵרָצֶה: ח   וְאֹכְלָיו עֲוֹנוֹ יִשָּׂא כִּי-אֶת-קֹדֶשׁ יְהוָֹה חִלֵּל וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מֵעַמֶּיהָ:

Vayikra / Leviticus 19:1-8
19:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 19:2 ‘Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. 19:3 ‘Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the Lord your God. 19:4 ‘Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the Lord your God. 19:5 ‘Now when you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. 19:6 ‘It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and the next day; but what remains until the third day shall be burned with fire. 19:7 ‘So if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an offense; it will not be accepted. 19:8 ‘Everyone who eats it will bear his iniquity, for he has profaned the holy thing of the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from his people. (NASB)

When studying this week’s reading it quickly becomes apparent that there are good number of commandments found within Parashat Kedoshim.  According to Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, contained within the Torah are 613 commandments which is said to be incumbent upon us at all times.  These 613 commandments may be divided into 248 positive commands, and the remaining 365 are considered to be negative commands.  It is interesting that in Parashat Kedoshim, we find both the positive and negative commands are in fact mixed together for example, the command to honor your mother and father, and to keep the Shabbat are positive commands, whereas do not turn to idols/molten images are negative commands.  The question is “what is the purpose of the order and/or placement of the commandments in this particular Parashah?”  The rabbis  according to Midrash Rabbah Vayikra, Parashat 24, Part 5 (מדרש רבה ויקרא פרשה כד סימן ה) make the observation that this Parashah was spoken in the presence of the entire congregation (assembly) of people because it contained the most essential principles of the Torah (i.e. the Ten Commandments).  They divide the Torah Portion in this manner:

Summary Midrash Rabbah Vayikra, Parashat 24, Part 5

  1. I am the Lord your God (Shemot / Exodus 20:2) and here it is written, I am the Lord your God (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:4);
  2. You will have no other gods (Shemot / Exodus 20:3) and here it is written, Nor make to yourselves molten gods (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:4);
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (Shemot / Exodus 20:7), and here it is written, And you shall not swear by My name falsely (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:12);
  4. Remember the Shabbat day (Shemot / Exodus 20:8) and here it is written, You shall keep my Sabbaths (Vayikra / Leviticus19:3);
  5. Honor your father and your mother (Shemot / Exodus 20:12) and here it is written, you shall fear every man his mother and his father (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:3);
  6. You shall not murder (Shemot / Exodus 20:13) and here it is written, Neither shall you stand idly by the blood of your neighbor (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:16);
  7. You shall not commit adultery (Shemot / Exodus 20:13) and here it is written both an adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Vayikra / Leviticus 20:10;
  8. You shall not steal (Shemot / Exodus 20:13) and here it is written, You shall not steal (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:11);
  9. You shall not bear false witness (Shemot / Exodus 20:13) and here it is written, You shall not go up and down as a talebearer (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:16);
  10. You shall not covet any thing that is your neighbors (Shemot / Exodus 20:14) and here it is written, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:18).

The rabbis from Midrash Rabbah Vayikra, Parashah 24, Part 6 (מדרש רבה ויקרא פרשה כד סימן ו) state that the reason for this particular ordering of the commandments is for the purpose of building a fence around one’s self against immorality so as to keep one’s self holy before God.  The question though is why are these commands are placed side-by-side, to be holy, to fear our parents, to obey the Shabbat, not turn to idols, the peace offering, and the profaning the holy thing and the name of the Lord?  One interpretation may be found regarding Vayikra / Leviticus 19:1-3, immediately following the command to be holy, we are told to fear our mother and father.  Yeshua also seems to bring this topic up while discussing the Pharisees and Scribes of his time regarding the traditions of the rabbis.

Matthew 15:1-6
15:1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 15:2 ‘Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’ 15:3 And He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 15:4 ‘For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ 15:5 ‘But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God, 15:6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. (NASB)

It is important to note that the command to fear mother and father, is from the fifth commandment, one from among the ten (Aseret Hadiberot) that were given Moshe on the mountain of Sinai on the two stone tablets.  Looking at the commandments, the fifth commandment (to honor mother and father) marks a transition between the commands that are related to our relationship with God verses those that are related to our relationship with others.  According to Shemot / Exodus 20:12, we read יב   כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ: 20:12 ‘Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. (NASB)  Here the word for “honor” is translated from the word “kaved” (כַּבֵּד) derived from the root word meaning “weighty.”  In the Scriptures there are many instances were this word is used to refer to the glory of God.  Notice how the first four verses refer to the glory of God and honoring the Lord God Himself.  By honoring mother and father we honor the Lord God Himself.  Parents were instrumental in the creation/birth of the baby, they are the caregiver and teacher of their children, and therefore they represent an important aspect in being representatives of the Lord God Almighty.  The family unit is also designed to represent the relationship the Lord has with each of us.  It is through this relationship that we truly understand our identity, within our families, our community, and in the Messiah.  Note that this appears to be the theme to the commands in Parashat Kedoshim which speak of our father and mother, murder, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness, coveting, sexual impurities, and how to relate to our neighbors.  Just as we honor our mother and father (Ephesians 6:1-3), we understand that we are also to honor the other members of our family (Romans 12:10), and that the Lord God is our Heavenly Father (1 Timothy 6:6), we are in like manner demonstrating our love for Him by demonstrating respect towards others.  The rabbis have the concept with regard to sowing and reaping on the idea that God rewards “measure for measure” (מדה כנגד מדה, middah k’neged middah) even to the smallest detail.  The rabbis say that “all measures of punishment and reward taken by the Holy One blessed be He, are in accordance to the principle of ‘measure for measure’” (Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 90a, Sota 8b, Midrash Rabba Genesis 9:11, 94:10, Exodus 1:18, 9:10, 10:6, Numbers 10:1-2, 14:6, and Song of songs 3:6, etc).  The commandment says to honor your parents is long life and disrespecting your parents results in judgement from the Lord that may even result in a shortened life.  In Ephesians the Apostle Paul quotes from the fifth commandment saying 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 6:2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 6:3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. (NASB)  The interesting thing is that when honoring your parents, one could expect a good life, however the Torah portion draws the other commands into context that being holy involves not only to fear our parents, but also to obey the Shabbat, not turn to idols, to following the Word of God even in the details with the example given of the peace offering, and thus one will not profane the holy thing and will sanctify the name of the Lord in his or her life.  The point is that one does not obey one command to neglect another and assume all is fine.  The Lord says 20:23 “… you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.” (NASB) and the reason being is we are to consecrate ourselves as holy for our God is holy (20:7).  This is a similar principle to what Peter said in 1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (ESV)  If we behaved according to the customs of the nations as they are being described based on the commandments, would this be keeping our conduct honorable?  The point of keeping our conduct honorable before others is for the purpose of honoring God in our lives, this takes us right back to the concept of “middah k’neged middah” and the command to honor our parents.  In order to keep our conduct honorable before God we have to make specific plans to succeed.  Some action plans include the following:  yield to God’s power in your life (James 4:7), every day commit yourself to put the flesh to death (Romans 6:11-12), decide to be holy every day (Job 31:1), guard your heart always by being aware of temptations and where your weak points are (1 Timothy 6:11), be conscious of your thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5), live a life with accountability (Ephesians 5:8-11), get rid of all our grudges, resentments and lack of forgiveness, and fill your mind with God’s word (Philippians 4:8), guard your eyes (Job 31:1), and try to develop good “holy” habits and never give up trying to honor God according to His word.  With God’s help, all of these things are possible in the Messiah Yeshua and the power of Holy Spirit in our lives.  Praise the Lord! BTT_Parashat Kedoshim-2014

 
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Tehillim / Psalms 39, Part 1, Does the Lord Inflict Punishment for the Purpose of Drawing us to Repentance?

Published on April 16, 2014, by in Tehillim.

This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms 39:1-13, David opens the Psalm saying א   לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִידיּתוּן [לִידוּתוּן] מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: ב   אָמַרְתִּי אֶשְׁמְרָה דְרָכַי מֵחֲטוֹא בִלְשׁוֹנִי אֶשְׁמְרָה לְפִי מַחְסוֹם בְּעֹד רָשָׁע לְנֶגְדִּי: For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. 39:1 I said, ‘I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle While the wicked are in my presence. (NASB)  Why do you think David says that he will guard his mouth as with a muzzle while in the presence of the wicked?  He continues saying ג   נֶאֱלַמְתִּי דוּמִיָּה הֶחֱשֵׁיתִי מִטּוֹב וּכְאֵבִי נֶעְכָּר: ד   חַם-לִבִּי | בְּקִרְבִּי בַּהֲגִיגִי תִבְעַר-אֵשׁ דִּבַּרְתִּי בִּלְשׁוֹנִי:39:2 I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse. 39:3 My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue: (NASB)  While keeping silent, he even refrained from doing what is good.  Has this ever happened to you before?  David then states ה   הוֹדִיעֵנִי יְהֹוָה | קִצִּי וּמִדַּת יָמַי מַה-הִיא אֵדְעָה מֶה-חָדֵל אָנִי: ו   הִנֵּה טְפָחוֹת | נָתַתָּה יָמַי וְחֶלְדִּי כְאַיִן נֶגְדֶּךָ אַךְ-כָּל-הֶבֶל כָּל-אָדָם נִצָּב סֶלָה: ז   אַךְ-בְּצֶלֶם | יִתְהַלֶּךְ-אִישׁ אַךְ-הֶבֶל יֶהֱמָיוּן יִצְבֹּר וְלֹא-יֵדַע מִי-אֹסְפָם:  39:4 ‘Lord, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. 39:5 ‘Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah. 39:6 ‘Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them. (NASB)  David appears to be asking the Lord to help him to realize that his life is short and to make something of his life. Read More Here: Tehillim 39-Part1

 
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Bits of Torah Truths, Chol HaMo’ed Pesach, Passover, Rabbinic thought, and the Messiah

This weeks reading is for Pesach / Passover (Shemot /  Exodus 33:12-34:26) and is taken from Parashat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35).  In the scriptures we read that Joshua would not depart from the Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד) and Moshe speaks to the Lord God requesting that His presence come with the Children of Israel (33:12-17).  Moshe asks to see God’s Glory (33:18) and the Lord tells Moshe that he cannot see His face or he would die (33:20).  The Lord requests that Moshe come to the mountain in the morning, and then He will show Moshe His glory where He declares that the Lord God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, loving, and having grace forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin for thousands (34:6-7).  Essentially, the Lord tells Moshe that he cannot see His face, but he can remain in His shadow when He passes by.  The Scriptures say in Shemot / Exodus 34:27 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ (NASB)  The Lord has revealed to us His glory and he has made a covenant with us in His son, a covenant cut in the blood of the Messiah Yeshua.  While studying these things, it is interesting that the man responsible for constructing the Tabernacle, his name means “in the shadow of God” (Bezalel).  When studying the Torah, there are many “types and shadows” of future things, of the Messiah, and of the heavenly tabernacle, etc.  Did you know that found within the rabbinic commentary, there are many parallels within rabbinic thought that speak of “types and shadows” and the Messiah?

ספר ויקרא פרק לה
ל  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל רְאוּ קָרָא יְהוָֹה בְּשֵׁם בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן-אוּרִי בֶן-חוּר לְמַטֵּה יְהוּדָה: לא  וַיְמַלֵּא אֹתוֹ רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים בְּחָכְמָה בִּתְבוּנָה וּבְדַעַת וּבְכָל-מְלָאכָה: לב  וְלַחְשֹׁב מַחֲשָׁבֹת לַעֲשֹֹת בַּזָּהָב וּבַכֶּסֶף וּבַנְּחֹשֶׁת: לג  וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת אֶבֶן לְמַלֹּאת וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת עֵץ לַעֲשֹוֹת בְּכָל-מְלֶאכֶת מַחֲשָׁבֶת: לד  וּלְהוֹרֹת נָתַן בְּלִבּוֹ הוּא וְאָהֳלִיאָב בֶּן-אֲחִיסָמָךְ לְמַטֵּה-דָן: לה  מִלֵּא אֹתָם חָכְמַת-לֵב לַעֲשֹוֹת כָּל-מְלֶאכֶת חָרָשׁ | וְחֹשֵׁב וְרֹקֵם בַּתְּכֵלֶת וּבָאַרְגָּמָן בְּתוֹלַעַת הַשָּׁנִי וּבַשֵּׁשׁ וְאֹרֵג עֹשֵֹי כָּל-מְלָאכָה וְחֹשְׁבֵי מַחֲשָׁבֹת:

Vayikra / Leviticus 35:30-35
35:30 Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, ‘See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 35:31 ‘And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; 35:32 to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, 35:33 and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. 35:34 ‘He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35:35 ‘He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs. (NASB)

The name “Bezalel” (בְּצַלְאֵל) appears to be the composition of two Hebrew words “in the shadow” (בצל) of “God” (אֵל).  According to the Scriptures, in the genealogical lists, Bezalel is described as the son of Uri (Shemot / Exodus 31:1), the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:18-20, 2:50).  The Scriptures describe him as being a highly gifted workman, showing great skill and originality in engraving precious metals and stones and in wood-carving.  He was also a master-workman, having many apprentices under him whom he instructed in the arts (see Shemot / Exodus 35:30-35). According to the narrative in the book of Exodus, he was called and empowered by the Spirit of God to direct the construction of the tent of meeting and its sacred furniture.  His tasks also included the construction of the priestly garments and the oil of incense for the services.  According to Midrash Rabba Exodus, Parashat Ki Tisa (מדרש רבה שמות פרשה מ סימן ג-ד), the Rabbis pick up on this gifted man and speak extensively on who he was and what it meant when God said “I have called by name Bezalel.”  Midrash Tehillim Exodus, Parsha 40, Part 3 says the following:

Midrash Rabbah Exodus, Parsha 40, Part 3
“Another explanation of See, I have called by name Bezalel.  Thus it is written, Whatsoever comes into being, the name thereof was given long ago (Ecclesiastes 6:10).  The Holy One blessed be He, said, I have already named him whom I have appointed from the very first (beginning?) to construct the Tabernacle.”  (ג ד״א ראה קראתי בשם בצלאל, הה״ד (קהלת ז) מה שהיה כבר נקרא שמו אמר הקב״ה מי שהתקנתיו מראש שיעשה המשכן כבר קראתי לו שם)

It is interesting that the midrash opens on Bezalel being called out by God and states מה שהיה כבר נקרא שמו אמר הקב״ה מי שהתקנתיו מראש שיעשה המשכן כבר קראתי לו שם “whoever exists the Lord said I have called him by his name, I have installed/appointed from the head (from the first or beginning) so that he will make/build my tabernacle, I have already called him by name.”  The Lord had a plan for how his Tabernacle would be constructed and this was from the beginning, or from before the creation, indicated by the midrash that all who exist are called by name by God.  The midrash asks “What is the meaning of ‘And it is foreknown what man is’ (Ecclesiastes 6:10)?”  What is the significance of the Lord having “the foreknowledge of?”  Note what the Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians in Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 1:5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (NIV)  Note how Paul says the Lord had plans from the beginning (2 Timothy 1:9) and He chose us from before creation (Ephesians 1:4), a concept that was accepted in rabbinic thought.  It is interesting to consider based on the words from the Scriptures and the midrash, that the Lord has prepared for His people a way of living and worshiping Him beforehand so that they could walk in His ways which is pleasing to Him.  Note also how the Scriptures speak of Yeshua the Messiah, He was slain from the foundation of the world.  This “from the foundation of the world” or “from the beginning” are Hebraic ways of saying God has a plan and He has prepared something before hand.  This illustrates God’s sovereignty, power, and authority over all.  This is written frequently in the apostolic Writings (see Matthew 13:35, Luke 11:50, John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3, Hebrews 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8, Revelation 17:8).

Midrash Rabbah Exodus, Parsha 40, Part 4 continues discussing the name of Bezalel in the following way:

Midrash Rabbah Exodus, Parsha 40, Part 4
“Another explanation of See, I have called by name Bezalel.  He was one of seven men who were called by various names.  Some were called four names, like Elijah; Bezalel and Joshua were called four names, Moshe seven, Mordecai two, Daniel five, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah four.” (ד ד״א ראה קראתי בשם, זה אחד משבעה בני אדם שנקראו להם שמות, יש שנקראו לו ארבעה זה אליהו, בצלאל ו׳, ויהושע ו׳, ומשה ז׳, מרדכי ב׳, דניאל ה׳, חנניה מישאל ועזריה ד׳)

• • •

“… Bezalel was the name applied to him by his people, but God called him five endearing names on account of his work for the Tabernacle.  Reaiah — because God pointed him out to Moshe and all the Israelites, saying, From the creation have I singled him out to construct the tabernacle.  Shobal — because he constructed a dovecote (house) for God, that is the Tabernacle, which stood high like a dovecote (house); for R. Judah b. Simon said, The Lord had the Tabernacle put up like a dovecote (house).  Jahath — because he imposed His fear of God upon Israel; and Ahumai — because he welded (ihah) Israel and God together, making them all brothers (ahin) to God.  Another explanation of Ahumai is, because he placed the fear of God (emah) over Israel.  He was called Lhad because he gave glory (hod) and splendor to Israel, for the Tabernacle was their glory…” (בצלאל מה שקרא לו אומתו שלו והקב״ה קרא לו חמשה שמות של חבה על שם המשכן, ראיה, שהראהו הקב״ה למשה ולכל ישראל ואמר להם מן בראשית התקנתיו לעשות המשכן, ושובל שהעמיד שובך לאלהים זה המשכן שהיה עומד כשובך, א״ר יהודה ב״ר סימון העמיד הקב״ה משכן כשובך, יחת שנתן חתיתו על ישראל, אחומי שאיחה את ישראל להקדוש ברוך הוא ועשאן כאחים למקום, ד״א אחומי שנתן אימתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא על ישראל, להד שנתן הוד והדר על ישראל שהיה המשכן הדרן)

• • •

“… No tribe was greater than Judah and non more lowly than Dan, which descended from one of the maidservants, and of whom it says, And the sons of Dan, Hushim (Bereshit / Genesis 46:23).” (ואין לך ירוד משבט דן שהיה מן הלחינות ומה כתיב בו (בראשית מו) ובני דן חושים)

To summarize the rabbis comment on Bezalel, he was from the Tribe of Judah.  He was known by the people by one name (Bezalel) but God had given him five other names each which represent the work that he had performed in constructing the Tabernacle, (i) Reaiah (ראיה) – God had known him from the beginning of time, (ii) Shobal (ושובל) – because he constructed a house (Tabernacle), (iii) Jahath (יחת) – because he imposed His fear of God upon Israel, (iv) Ahumai (אחומי) – he brought Israel and God together, making them all brothers to God, and (v)  Lhad (להד) – He placed the glory of God upon His people Israel.  Essentially, the one who was chosen to construct the Tabernacle, was known by God from since the foundation of the world, he will impose the fear of God upon His people Israel, he will bring Israel, the people, and God together and make them brothers to our Father in heaven, and he will place the glory of God upon his people.  Is this not an amazing picture of the one God has chosen to draw men to Himself Yeshua the Messiah?  The preeminence, preexistence, foreknowledge of the Messiah was generally understood by the Hebraic mind to be something God has and was going to accomplish.  According to the Pesikta Rabbati (פסיקתא רבתי), an excerpt taken from the book “Everyman’s Talmud” has the following to say regarding the Messiah:

“Seven things were created before the world was created: Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden (i.e. Paradise), Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah’ (Pes. 54a). In a later work there is the observation: From the beginning of the creation of the world king Messiah was born, for he entered the mind (of God) before even the world was created.”(Pesikta Rab. 152b). (EVERYMAN’S TALMUD, Cohen, A., Everyman’s Talmud. New York: Schocken Books, 1949, p. 347)

The point of this study is that it is important to remember who Yeshua the Messiah is during Passover, this great time of deliverance and salvation that God has provided for His people.  Note that the Apostolic Writings are consistent with the rabbinic thought process.  We read of the Creator’s plan of the first preeminent one, predetermined, and first of over all.  Yeshua was the first born of Mary (Matthew 1:23-25), the first begotten of God the Father (Hebrews 1:6), the first of every creature (Colossians 1:15), the first begotten from the dead (Revelation 1:5), the first born of many brethren (Romans 8:29), the first fruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), the beginning of the creation of God (Revelation 3:14), and the preeminent One (Colossians 1:18).  We have been made holy in Yeshua (Hebrews 10:10) and it is because of Yeshua the Messiah that God’s glory rests upon us (1 Peter 4:14).  Yeshua is indeed the Holy One of God and is sanctified by the Father and it is in and through Him we are sanctified.  The Passover represents our salvation and deliverance by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Yeshua the Messiah.  This Passover, let’s celebrate our salvation and justification that we have by trusting in the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, Revelation 7:14). BTT_Parashat Pesach-2014

 
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Tehillim / Psalm 38, Part 2, Our Aim in Prayer and the Lord Remembering Us

Published on April 10, 2014, by in Tehillim.

David says in Tehillim / Psalms י   אֲדֹנָי נֶגְדְּךָ כָל-תַּאֲוָתִי וְאַנְחָתִי מִמְּךָ לֹא-נִסְתָּרָה: יא   לִבִּי סְחַרְחַר עֲזָבַנִי כֹחִי וְאוֹר עֵינַי גַּם-הֵם אֵין אִתִּי: 38:9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. 38:10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. (NASB)  Tehillim / Psalms 38:11 suggests that David is in fact speaking of the disease of Tsaraat and Parashat Tazria saying יב   אֹהֲבַי | וְרֵעַי מִנֶּגֶד נִגְעִי יַעֲמֹדוּ וּקְרוֹבַי מֵרָחֹק עָמָדוּ: 38:11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand afar off. (NASB)  David speaks of those who seek his life (38:12) and that he behaves as a deaf and mute man saying יד  וַאֲנִי כְחֵרֵשׁ לֹא אֶשְׁמָע וּכְאִלֵּם לֹא יִפְתַּח-פִּיו: טו  וָאֱהִי כְּאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא-שֹׁמֵעַ וְאֵין בְּפִיו תּוֹכָחוֹת: 38:13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth. 38:14 Yes, I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth are no arguments. (NASB)  Is there a parallel to Yeshua before the Sanhedrin during his trial?  His hope is in the Lord טז  כִּי-לְךָ יְהֹוָה הוֹחָלְתִּי אַתָּה תַעֲנֶה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהָי: יז  כִּי-אָמַרְתִּי פֶּן-יִשְֹמְחוּ-לִי בְּמוֹט רַגְלִי עָלַי הִגְדִּילוּ: יח  כִּי-אֲנִי לְצֶלַע נָכוֹן וּמַכְאוֹבִי נֶגְדִּי תָמִיד: יט   כִּי-עֲוֹנִי אַגִּיד אֶדְאַג מֵחַטָּאתִי: 38:15 For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God. 38:16 For I said, ‘May they not rejoice over me, Who, when my foot slips, would magnify themselves against me.’ 38:17 For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. 38:18 For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. (NASB)  David concludes saying 38:19 But my enemies are vigorous and strong, And many are those who hate me wrongfully. 38:20 And those who repay evil for good, They oppose me, because I follow what is good. 38:21 Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me! 38:22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! (NASB)  He says that opposition comes because he chooses to do good rather than evil, and trusts in the Lord for His salvation. Read more here: Tehillim 38-Part1-and-2

 
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Tehillim / Psalms 38, Part 1, Our Aim in Prayer and the Lord Remembering Us

Published on April 9, 2014, by in Tehillim.

This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms 38:1-22, David opens the Psalm saying א  מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד לְהַזְכִּיר: ב  יְהוָה אַל-בְּקֶצְפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי וּבַחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי: ג  כִּי-חִצֶּיךָ נִחֲתוּ-בִי וַתִּנְחַת עָלַי יָדֶךָ: ד  אֵין-מְתֹם בִּבְשָֹרִי מִפְּנֵי זַעְמֶךָ אֵין-שָׁלוֹם בַּעֲצָמַי מִפְּנֵי חַטָּאתִי: A Psalm of David, for a memorial. 38:1 O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath, And chasten me not in Your burning anger. 38:2 For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, And Your hand has pressed down on me. 38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin.  (NASB)  David makes a distinction between sin that goes down to his bones, and the lack of soundness of his flesh because the Lord is indignant towards him.  This is because his iniquity is heavy (38:4-8), his sin causes the wounds of his skin to fester and become foul, which may be a possible reference to Parashat Tazria (Vayikra / Leviticus 12:1-13:59) and the disease of Tsaraat.  He continues saying י   אֲדֹנָי נֶגְדְּךָ כָל-תַּאֲוָתִי וְאַנְחָתִי מִמְּךָ לֹא-נִסְתָּרָה: יא   לִבִּי סְחַרְחַר עֲזָבַנִי כֹחִי וְאוֹר עֵינַי גַּם-הֵם אֵין אִתִּי: 38:9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. 38:10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. (NASB)  Tehillim / Psalms 38:11 suggests that David is in fact speaking of the disease of Tsaraat and Parashat Tazria saying יב   אֹהֲבַי | וְרֵעַי מִנֶּגֶד נִגְעִי יַעֲמֹדוּ וּקְרוֹבַי מֵרָחֹק עָמָדוּ: 38:11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand afar off. (NASB)  Read more here: Tehillim 38-Part1

 
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Bits of Torah Truths, Parashat Acharei Mot, Bringing a Sacrifice to the Lord

In weeks reading from Parashat Acharei Mot (Vayikra / Leviticus 16:1-18:30), the Lord spoke to Moshe following the death of Aaron’s two sons saying 16:2 “… ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.” (NASB) The scriptures say Aaron is to take a bull for the Sin offering and a ram for the Whole burnt offering and that He is to perform a mikvah (ritual bath) prior to putting on the holy garments (16:3-4). Two goats are presented at the entrance to the Ohel Moed (אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, Tent of Meeting) one is used as a sacrifice and the other for the Azazel (לַעֲזָאזֵל, Scapegoat). Lots are cast for the goats; the lot falls upon the Sin offering. The Lord then commands the people to bring their offerings to the Lord, to not slaughter the ox, lamb, or goat in the field outside the camp, the person who does such and does not bring the animal as a peace offering is guilty and is to be cut off from his people (17:1-5). The scriptures also state 17:7 ‘They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations’’ (NASB) The Torah continues saying that the Life of the blood is in the flesh and it (the blood) has been given to make atonement for our souls (17:11) therefore no person is to eat the blood of any animal (17:12-16). The Lord instructs Israel to not do what is done in the Land of Egypt, nor what is done in the land of Canaan (18:1-5). The commands against incest (18:6-20) and homosexuality (18:22) are given. Intercourse with an animal is also prohibited (18:23), for these are the reason the nations are being destroyed before Israel (18:24). The Parashah concludes stating that we are not to keep any of the customs of the nations which are an abomination before God (18:30).
Reading Vayikra / Leviticus 17:1-4, how might we apply these Scriptures to our lives today?

ספר ויקרא פרק יז
א וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב דַּבֵּר אֶל-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל-בָּנָיו וְאֶל כָּל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר-צִוָּה יְהוָֹה לֵאמֹר: ג אִישׁ אִישׁ מִבֵּית יִשְֹרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחַט שׁוֹר אוֹ-כֶשֶֹב אוֹ-עֵז בַּמַּחֲנֶה אוֹ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחָט מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה: ד וְאֶל-פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֹא הֱבִיאוֹ לְהַקְרִיב קָרְבָּן לַיהֹוָה לִפְנֵי מִשְׁכַּן יְהוָֹה דָּם יֵחָשֵׁב לָאִישׁ הַהוּא דָּם שָׁפָךְ וְנִכְרַת הָאִישׁ הַהוּא מִקֶּרֶב עַמּוֹ:

Vayikra / Leviticus 17:1-4
17:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17:2 ‘Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded, saying, 17:3 ‘Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or who slaughters it outside the camp, 17:4 and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, blood-guiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people. (NASB)

Reading the Hebrew Scriptures, frequently the word slaughter (יִשְׁחַט) is mentioned with regard to killing or eating. In the Torah, it is generally referring to the ritual slaughtering of the animals. Moshe gave the command saying the people are to bring the animal before the Tent of Meeting to be slaughtered. Those who do not are to be cut off from among the people. It is within this context that we find the connections between slaughtering, eating, and the covenant of God. Take for example in Acts 10:13 God shows Peter the sheet with the animals and then tells Peter Θυσον και φαγε meaning “sacrifice and eat.” Acts 11:7 also repeats the phrase Θυσον και φαγε “sacrifice and eat.” The Lord shows Peter the animals and then commanded him to “kill and eat” literally telling Peter to “sacrifice and eat” where the Greek word here for “kill” is θῦσον “thuson” implies to “ritually slaughter” the animals. This is consistent with setting the animal apart for the Lord as holy (i.e. those that may be eaten), or in other words, to bring the animal before the Lord at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. While thinking on the idea of “Sacrifice,” and how this applies to us today, with regard to the words of Moshe in this week’s reading, let’s look at these Scriptures from the perspective of the rabbis from Midrash Rabba Vayikra, on Parashat Acharei Mot, Part 1 and 2 (מדרש רבה ויקרא פרשה כב סימן א-ב).

Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parsha 22, Part 1
“What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that kills an ox, or lamb, or goat (Vayikra / Leviticus 17:3). This bears on what is written in scripture: and the superfluities of the earth are included (Ecclesiastes 5:8)…”

In the opening lines of the rabbinic commentary Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parsha 22, Part 1, the rabbis make a reference to Ecclesiastes chapter 5. While studying midrash, many times a reference is made from Scripture as a proof text were only a portion of the Scripture is provided. The purpose is to enable the reader to understand that this verse from Vayikra / Leviticus 17:3 is being taken in the context of Ecclesiastes 5. Therefore, it is important to read through a portion of Ecclesiastes 5 in order to get the whole meaning (context) of the midrashic thought process.

Ecclesiastes 5:6-8
5:6 Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 5:7 For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God. 5:8 If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them. (NASB)

Note the context of what is taking place in Ecclesiastes. Vayikra / Leviticus 17:3 is referring to the importance of bringing a sacrifice before the Lord in the prescribed manner, and Ecclesiastes 5 is speaking of not doing so and saying to the angel of the Lord “oops I made a mistake.” (i.e. oops I didn’t bring the Sacrifice to the Tent of Meeting as Moshe commands) This may be understood as suggesting the person has a sort of disregard or light-hearted attitude for what the Lord is calling one to do. Ecclesiastes says “Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” The midrash is trying to draw in the idea of oppressing the poor, and the denial of justice and righteousness into the context of the command of God and bringing a holy sacrifice. Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parsha 22, Part 2 continues from Part 1 saying the following:

Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parashah 22, Part 2
“… The king is the Holy One blessed be He, of whom it is written, the Lord reigns; He is clothed in majesty (Tehillim / Psalms 93:1). That makes himself servant to the field, that is, to Zion, of which it is written, Therefore shall Zion be plowed as a field (Micah 3:12). Accordingly, He that loves silver will not be satisfied with silver (Ecclesiastes 5:9). He who loves the commandments will not have his fill of the commandments. Nor he that loves abundance, with increase, that is to say, any one who covets and is greedy for the fulfillment of religious acts and has not to his credit a religious act designed for future generations, what benefit has he? There is proof that this is so. For Moshe, surely, performed every so many religious deeds and acts of righteousness, and had ever so many good deeds to his credit, yet he performed a religious deed designed for future generations, as is proved by the text, Then Moshe separated three cities beyond the Jordan (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:41).”

Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parsha 22, Part 2 introduces a few interesting and strange concepts speaking of a person who “performs religious acts for future generations” and makes a comparison of “one who covets and is greedy for religious acts in order to serve his own purposes.” What does it mean to do/perform religious acts for future generations? In the midrashim, the rabbis say that the purpose of performing religious acts (maaseh ha’mitzvot) is to earn merit that can be passed on to future generations. The idea is that God rewards measure for measure, even to the smallest detail. The Talmud Bavli Bava Metzia 86b explains that “whatever Abraham did on his own, God rewarded his children directly.” This might be understood in the sense that the blessing comes when we do what is right, living in righteousness and justice, studying God’s Word and passing that on to our children (Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:5-7) verses those who do what is wrong, living in unrighteousness, robbing and cheating people, and their children learn to do the same. There is a parallel found in the Apostolic Writings and what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6.

Galatians 6:6-10
6:6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 6:9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (NASB) (ו המלמד בדבר יחלק מכל טובו למלמדהו׃ ז אל תתעו לא יתן אלהים להתל בו כי מה שזרע האדם אתו יקצר׃ ח הזרע בבשרו יקצר כליון משברו והזרע ברוח יקצר מן הרוח חיי עולם׃ ט ואנחנו בעשות הטוב אל נחת כי נקצר בעתו אם לא נרפה׃ )

It is instrumental to look at the Hebrew translation of these verses, and it is interesting that the Apostle Paul states “hazorea bivsaro yiatsor kilyon mivsaro, v’hazorea ba’ruach yiktsor min ha’ruach chai olam.” (6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. NASB) Paul parallels doing what is good, to sowing in the spirit and reaping eternal life whereas the counterpart of that is sowing to the flesh reaps corruption. Basically, the one who gives into the flesh will reap dishonesty and immorality. Note this is not simply a philosophical or theological thought exercise. If one gives into fleshly desires, one is cultivating immoral decisions, which corrupts the spirit. Moral impurity then leads to other immoral activities such as bribery, embezzlement (contentiousness), and not doing what is right in the proper time. Paul says that if you live by the Spirit, you will do what is right, and reap eternal life. If we are abiding in the Messiah, will we not choose what is right by the power of the Holy Spirit? If we live by the flesh, will the Holy Spirit give us the power to do what is right? In addition to this, it is important to note that Paul says “hazorea” (הזרע) which means “Sowing.” Sowing is derived from the root word Zarah meaning “seed.” In Bereshit/ Genesis 26:4, the Lord told Isaac that “in his seed” all the nations of the earth will be blessed, repeating the covenant blessing the Lord had given to his father Abraham. Note the connection of the “seed” (זרע) with sowing (doing), with children, and the covenant. The connection to the Torah Portion for this week is in what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 12:1:

Romans 12:1
12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (NASB)

Paul says to offer your body as a holy, and living sacrifice unto the Lord and this is our spiritual service of worship. So the question is, “Am I living for future generations” like the rabbis say? Am I sowing to the spirit, and are my children and others watching and learning what it means to live for the Lord? Am I offering my body as a living sacrifice for future generations? Or, are we going before God like Ecclesiastes 5 speaks of saying to the Lord “oops I made a mistake” having a sort of disregard or light-hearted attitude for what the Lord is calling us to do? The Lord is telling us in the Torah portion to bring your sacrifice to Me and be serious about it. It is time to take your faith seriously! These are important things to think about especially as we are approaching Passover next week and celebrate our Savior, Yeshua the Messiah! BTT_Parashat Acharei Mot-2014

 
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Bits of Torah Truths, Parashat Metzora, Cleansing, Healing, and the Anointed One

In weeks reading from Parashat Metzora (Vayikra /  Leviticus 14:1-15:33), we learn about the mitzvot (Commandments) on the law of Tzaraat (צָּרַעַת, leprosy).  The translation for the word Leprosy comes from the Greek word “Lepra” (λέπρα) and is a contagious bacterial disease characterized by ulceration’s of the skin, a loss of sensation (nerve damage) and sever deformities.  The regulation connected to the commandment is found in Vayikra / Leviticus 13 and 14, and Bamidbar / Numbers 12.  In the Scriptures, this disease was regarded as a direct infliction by God (see 2 Kings 5:7 and 2 Chronicles 26:20) an awful punishment from the Lord.  The disease eats the inward parts, the bones, swelling of the skin, sores, the whole body is rotting and in Yeshua’s day this was considered a slow lingering death sentence.  The one stricken with Tzaraat was to rent his own cloths in lamentation of his own approaching death and cry out “Tamei! Tamei!” (“Unclean! Unclean!”) when passers-by came near to keep them away.  According to the Torah it appears that it is the Lord God who inflicts one with Tzaraat and it is only Lord God who is able to heal the leper.  
ספר ויקרא פרק יד
א   וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב   זֹאת תִּהְיֶה תּוֹרַת הַמְּצֹרָע בְּיוֹם טָהֳרָתוֹ וְהוּבָא אֶל-הַכֹּהֵן: ג   וְיָצָא הַכֹּהֵן אֶל-מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְרָאָה הַכֹּהֵן וְהִנֵּה נִרְפָּא נֶגַע-הַצָּרַעַת מִן-הַצָּרוּעַ:
Vayikra / Leviticus 14:1-3
14:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14:2 ‘This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 14:3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper… (NASB)
While studying Parashat Metzora, it is always interesting to look at Midrash Rabbah to see what the rabbis have to say.  Midrash Rabbah Vayikra on Parashat Metzora (Chapter 16-18, פרשה טז-יח) speaks extensively on Tzaraat and Lashon Harah, the evil tongue (gossip).  The idea is that there is an inward uncleanness that is so great, that God causes it to show forth on the outside as Tzaraat.  According to Parashat Tazria and Metzora, there is no sacrifice that could be brought that was capable of making the one afflicted with Tzaraat clean before the Lord.  The sin in this persons life was so great, the one inflicted of this disease must wholly trust in the Lord God Almighty for the forgiveness of their sins and healing.  The sacrifices that one brings may only be done so after having been healed from the disease of Tzaraat.  Right standing and renewed fellowship with the Lord could only occur after the Lord had forgiven and healed this person.  This in and of itself presents a key Torah principle that the Lord desires mercy and obedience rather than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).  The one stricken with Tzaraat needs to be both forgiven for his sins and healed of the disease by the Lord God Almighty.  The disease of Tzaraat illustrates for us that the sacrifices were not meant to be performed to “earn” forgiveness of sins.  Many Christian commentaries suggest the sacrifices were meant to take away sin which is a work of the flesh (see Gill’s Exposition on Isaiah 55:7 for an example).  Studying the Torah on the sacrifices, reveals to us that a sacrifice was to be brought if we discover that we had unintentionally sinned before God.  If one had “intentionally” sinned before God, there was no sacrifice that could be brought.  The person who “intentionally” sins needed to repent and trust the our Father in Heaven would forgive him.  With these things in mind, the rabbis of blessed memory struggled with the idea of how God forgives those stricken with Tzaraat and conclude this would be the work of the Messiah.
Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin daf 98b
“Rab said: The world was created only on David’s account .  Samuel said: On Moses account;  R. Johanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his [the Messiah’s] name? — The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come.  The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure for ever:  e’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon.  The School of R. Haninah maintained: His name is Haninah, as it is written, Where I will not give you Haninah.  Others say: His name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah, for it is written, Because Menahem [‘the comforter’], that would relieve my soul, is far.  The Rabbis said: His name is ‘the leper scholar,’ as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
Since the disease of Tzaraat was something only the Lord God Almighty could heal, the rabbis say the Annointed One (Mashiach) would need to help those stricken with Tzaraat.  The Talmud describes the rabbi’s asking the question, “when will the Messiah come?” and “By what sign may I recognize him?”  Elijah tells the rabbi to go to the gate of the city where he will find the Messiah sitting among the poor lepers.  According to the Sages, the Messiah would be a Cohen (Priest) that would bear our grief, carry our iniquity and sorrows, and be smitten of God and afflicted.  There seem to be parallels to Parashat Ki Tisa (Shemot / Exodus 30:11-34:35) and Isaiah 53 with regard to Moshe and the man smitten and afflicted.  It is possible that the Chief priests and elders in Yeshua’s day knew of these sayings in the first century.  It is also apparent that the lawyers and leaders in Yeshua’s day were unwilling to recognize the various messianic prophecies in the Tanakh and refused to recognize the declaration of who Yeshua is in the healing of these persons stricken with Tzaraat.  In the Apostolic Writings, when Yeshua healed ten lepers, he was declaring in the act of healing that God was present a clear sign that the one spoken of in the Torah as the prophet that would follow Moshe (Devarim / Deuteronomy 18) had come “The Messiah has come!”  Remember, Moshe prayed to the Lord and the Lord listened and healed Miriam (Bamidbar / Numbers 12).  Yeshua healing lepers is found in Matthew 8:2-3, Mark 1:40-42, and Luke 17:11-19.  In Luke 17:11-19, while Yeshua was on his way to Jerusalem and passing between Samaria and Galilee he met 10 lepers.  The Lepers raised their voices saying 17:13 “… ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’”  Yeshua told the lepers to go and show themselves to the Cohanim (Priests) and as they went they were healed, cleansed of the disease as they made their way to show themselves to the Cohen.  As these 10 Lepers acted in faith, the Lord God healed them of their disease of Tzaraat.  Based upon the text it appears the men (i) believed Yeshua was able to heal them and (ii) they needed to act upon their faith even though the Tzaraat remained upon their bodies physically.  The work of believing and then physically doing what the Lord instructs us to do are integrally connected.  By performing the act of going to the Cohen to show their bodies they were healed.  Now because they were obeying Yeshua to show themselves to the priests, as the Torah commands, they were doing a righteous work.  Did their healing come by their own hands (by their works), or by the power of God?  Their moving by faith to show their bodies, even though there remained the sign of Tzaraat, glorified the name of the Lord and God healed them.

According to Parashat Metzora, the ritual cleansing process required the rigorous procedure of inspection and blood atonement as described in the Torah.  Note again that these sacrifices come after having been forgiven of their sin and having been healed.  According to the Scriptures in Vayikra / Leviticus 14:2-3 ב   זֹאת תִּהְיֶה תּוֹרַת הַמְּצֹרָע בְּיוֹם טָהֳרָתוֹ וְהוּבָא אֶל-הַכֹּהֵן: ג   וְיָצָא הַכֹּהֵן אֶל-מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְרָאָה הַכֹּהֵן וְהִנֵּה נִרְפָּא נֶגַע-הַצָּרַעַת מִן-הַצָּרוּעַ: ד   וְצִוָּה הַכֹּהֵן וְלָקַח לַמִּטַּהֵר שְׁתֵּי-צִפֳּרִים חַיּוֹת טְהֹרוֹת וְעֵץ אֶרֶז וּשְׁנִי תוֹלַעַת וְאֵזֹב:  14:2 ‘This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 14:3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper (NASB).  The person with Tzaraat is to meet the Cohen (Priest) half way.  Yeshua sent the lepers to show their bodies to the Cohen because the first step of acting in faith is crucial for a believer.  It is only when we sincerely return to the Lord and act upon our faith that He will take care of our problem of impurity, uncleanness, and sin.  According to the Scriptures only the Cohen could diagnose Tzaraat.  The reason being, Tzaraat was a spiritual malady that required spiritual discernment to both diagnose and treat.  When someone was found to have Tzaraat, they were forced to leave society and undergo a period of mourning and Teshuvah (repentance).  Before the leper is reintegrated into the community of believers, he must undergo inspection and kept aside for seven days and then reexamined, and only then is the person allowed to return to the community.

According to the Apostolic writings, Yeshua healed 10 lepers, he showed himself to be the Messiah, having both the power to forgive sins and to set one free from the bondage of sin and death (the slow lingering death of Tzaraat).  Because of Yeshua we are no longer lepers or outcasts from the family of God.  He has brought us into right standing before our Father in Heaven.  During Yeshua’s ministry he pointed continually to the Torah instructing those healed of Tzaraat to show themselves to the Cohen and make the necessary offerings described in the Torah as a testimony to Moshe and to the people.  In this week’s study the Lord reveals to us the uncleanness and impurity in our lives on the inside is also apparent to God on the outside.  The internal state effects our walk before the Lord.  Have you inspected your life, the uncleanliness of your heart, and sought forgiveness in the Messiah Yeshua to cleans from all unrighteousness? BTT_Parashat Metzora-2014

 
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Tehillim / Psalms 37, Part 2, The way of the Righteous in the time of evil

Published on March 24, 2014, by in Tehillim.

The Midrash on Tehillim 37 states that those who we are to be envious of are those who fear the Lord all day long.  The rabbis say that God does good to both the righteous and the unrighteous.  The Lord is setting the example to do good to all men, to study His words, and to live in righteousness and justice towards all men.  According to David in the Psalm, the wicked do not inherit the land, they stick their own hearts with their swords, they will be broken and like the withering grass, they will be cut off. On the other hand, the righteous Tehillim / Psalms 37:3 Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. 37:6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states 37:5 Reveal to the Lord your ways, and trust in his word, and he will act. (EMC) Trusting in the Lord, His ways, and His word is the path He wants each of us to follow.  Read more here: Tehillim 37-Part1-and-2

 
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Bits of Torah Truths, Parashat Tazria, God’s Plan for Separation and Our Choices

In weeks reading from Parashat Tazria (Vayikra / Leviticus 12:1-13:59), the Lord speaks to Moshe saying when a woman gives birth to a baby boy, she will be unclean for seven days (12:1-2) and on the eighth day the child is to be circumcised (12:4).  Following the birth, the woman is to remain in the blood of her purification for thirty days and she is not to touch any consecrated thing nor enter into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are complete (12:4).  If she gives birth to a baby girl, she will be unclean for two weeks and remain in the blood of her purification for sixty days.  The woman is then to bring a young lamb as an Olah Korban (burnt offering) and a dove as a Khatat Korban (sin offering).  If she cannot afford the lamb, she is to bring two turtle doves or two pigeons for a sin offering (12:5-8).  The Lord then commands Moshe regarding the disease of Tzaraat (Leprosy).  The Cohen (Priest) is to inspect the person showing the signs of Tzaraat (13:1-46).  The person having Tzaraat is to remain outside of the camp and the Scriptures say 13:45 ‘As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’  13:46 ‘He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.  (NASB)  The command goes on stating that cloths are also capable of contracting Tzaraat (13:47).  The linen garment is to be quarantined for seven days and reexamined.  If the garment is found to contain Tzaraat it is to be burned with fire (13:51-52).  When the Cohen looks and the Tzaraat in the garment has not spread, the garment is washed and if the spot remains, the garment is to be declared unclean and it is to be burned with fire (13:55).  If the mark is faded after washing, the mark is to be torn out of the garment, washed a second time, and inspected to be certain the Tzaraat has not reappeared in the garment (13:56-59).  This describes that a very careful inspection is conducted and in a similar way we are to inspect our lives very carefully.

ספר ויקרא פרק יב
א   וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב   דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל לֵאמֹר אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה זָכָר וְטָמְאָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים כִּימֵי נִדַּת דְּוֹתָהּ תִּטְמָא: ג   וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי יִמּוֹל בְּשַֹר עָרְלָתוֹ: ד   וּשְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וּשְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּשֵׁב בִּדְמֵי טָהֳרָה בְּכָל-קֹדֶשׁ לֹא-תִגָּע וְאֶל-הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹא תָבֹא עַד-מְלֹאת יְמֵי טָהֳרָהּ: ה   וְאִם-נְקֵבָה תֵלֵד וְטָמְאָה שְׁבֻעַיִם כְּנִדָּתָהּ וְשִׁשִּׁים יוֹם וְשֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּשֵׁב עַל-דְּמֵי טָהֳרָה:

Vayikra / Leviticus 12:1-5
12:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12:2 ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. 12:3 ‘On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 12:4 ‘Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. 12:5 ‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.   (NASB)

Reading through this week’s portion, the opening verses lead to many questions.  The Parshah opens stating that childbirth renders a woman ritually impure, however, there are differences in the lengths of the time of impurity depending on the gender of her offspring (a baby boy verses a girl).  Why is there a difference in the period of impurity for a woman who has given birth to a boy (seven days) as compared to one who has delivered a girl (fourteen days)?  Why is there a different standard where the mother must wait thirty days verses sixty days in the blood of her purity?  In both cases, there is a two-phased period of impurity.  How does the initial time of impurity (seven days for a boy and fourteen days for a girl) differ from the second phase (thirty-three days for a boy and sixty-six days for a girl)?  Vayikra / Leviticus 12:2 states that a woman after childbirth “shall be impure as at the time of her condition of menstrual separation.”  Note also that in the first stage, during the seven days, she made all that she touched unclean; in the second stage, during the thirty days, she was only required to touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, as she was progressing towards cleanness.  Why do you think these two conditions were linked in this way?  Let’s examine the Scriptures and try to figure out what is going on.

The first thing to do is to begin with a short study on the word Tazria (תַזְרִיעַ).  Turning back in the Scriptures, the first occurrence of the root form of the Hebrew word Tazria (תַזְרִיעַ) is found in Bereshit / Genesis  1:11-12:

Bereshit / Genesis 1:11-12
1:11 Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them’; and it was so.  1:12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. (NASB)

יא   וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ דֶּשֶׁא עֵשֶֹב מַזְרִיעַ זֶרַע עֵץ פְּרִי עֹשֶֹה פְּרִי לְמִינוֹ אֲשֶׁר זַרְעוֹ-בוֹ עַל-הָאָרֶץ וַיְהִי-כֵן: יב   וַתּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ דֶּשֶׁא עֵשֶֹב מַזְרִיעַ זֶרַע לְמִינֵהוּ וְעֵץ עֹשֶֹה-פְּרִי אֲשֶׁר זַרְעוֹ-בוֹ לְמִינֵהוּ וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים כִּי-טוֹב

The word Mazria (מַזְרִיעַ) in Bereshit / Genesis 1:11-12 is a verb written as a Hiphil Participle.  A participle is a form of a verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun or noun phrase, and thus plays a role similar to that of an adjective or adverb.  In the creation account, Mazria modifies Zera (זֶרַע) describing the earth sprouting forth vegetation.  The word Tazria (תַזְרִיעַ) in Vayikra / Leviticus 12:2 is a verb written in the Hiphil Imperfect 3rd Feminine Singular form.  The imperfect is a verb form, found in various languages, which combines past tense (reference to a past time) and imperfective aspect (reference to a continuing or repeated event or state).  The infinitive definition of Tazria is “to sow, scatter seed.”  The word Tazria (תַזְרִיעַ) is Hebrew for “she conceives,” and the NASB translates as “when she gives birth.”  Is there some sort of connection that is being made between the creation account and the woman who gives birth in Vayikra / Leviticus 12 by the use and meaning of the Hebrew words in these Scriptures?  It is interesting to note that “childbirth” may be written in a different way in the Hebrew bible, using the word וְיָלָדוּ rather than the word תַזְרִיעַ (see Shemot / Exodus 1:19).  It may be that Moshe is making a connection to the Creation account.  In the creation account it is also important to note that the first few days were days of separation.  The Lord God separated the light from the darkness, and the land from the sea, and the sky.  Note also that separation is a form of sanctification and holiness.  Upon having separated (sanctified) the land, the Lord commanded it to bring forth vegetation.  This appears to be an interesting connection that is being made to the woman who following her giving birth is commanded to separate herself for the Lord because of her blood and then to remain in the blood of her purity for a certain specified amount of time.

Note also, in Midrash Rabbah Leviticus Chapter 14, Part 1, on Parashat Tazria, Rabbi Simlai notes that just as God created humans after creating cattle, beasts, and birds, the law concerning human impurity in Vayikra / Leviticus 12 follows that concerning cattle, beasts, and birds in Vayikra / Leviticus 11 and what we eat regarding clean verses unclean foods. (א״ר שמלאי כשם שיצירתו של אדם אחר בהמה חיה ועוף כך תורתו אחר בהמה חיה ועוף הה״ד זאת תורת הבהמה ואח״כ אשה כי תזריע)  This portion is placed within the context of separation and holiness before God.

In addition to this, we read the verses following the command of the woman who gives birth in Vayikra / Leviticus 12:6–8:

Vayikra / Leviticus 12:6-8
12:6 ‘When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.  12:7 ‘Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female.  12:8 ‘But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’‘ (NASB)

According to the Scriptures, there are two types of sacrifices required of a woman after she gave birth regardless of whether it was a boy or a girl; a whole burnt offering (Olah Korban) and a Sin offering (Khatat Korban).  The first sacrifice is designated to sanctify the altar and the second is for sin.  These things might be related to pregnancy, delivery, and new life since the baby would need to remain with the mother throughout this time period since he or she would need the mothers milk.  Thus, the baby was also taking part in separation process after having been born.

The remainder of Parashat Tazria deals with the laws concerning Tsaraat (leprosy).  The person stricken with Tsaraat must wait outside the camp and then undergo inspection by the priest.  Following the careful inspection of the priest and the declaration the person stricken with Tsaraat has become clean, there is a procedure that is followed to complete the cleansing process.  The blood is sprinkled seven times and he is pronounced clean.  Following these things, the person who has been healed washes his cloths and shaves his entire body and then washes his body in “Mayim Khayim” הַמַּיִם הַחַיִּים “the living waters” and they are clean.  Following this cleansing procedure the person is allowed to enter into the city, however, he or she must dwell/remain outside of his tent for seven more days.  On the eighth day the person who is cleansed is to take two male lambs and a one year old ewe lamb, three tenths of and ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a Mincha offering, and one log of oil.  These lambs are used to make the Olah Korban (Whole burnt offering), Chatat Korban (Sin offering), and Asham Korban (Guilt offering) before the Lord.  Note, in the number of days of separation, there is a parallel to the woman who has given birth at the beginning of Parashat Tazria needing to wait seven days and the child is circumcised, and then the woman needs to wait and additional period of days regarding the blood of her purification (thirty days for a baby boy, sixty days for a baby girl).  In both instances, the law of Niddah specifies that following the days of Niddah (menstruation), she is to dip herself in “Mayim Khayim” (מַיִם חַיִּים) “Living Waters” and she is cleansed.  Throughout the Scriptures, the “Living Waters” has many applications.  Living waters are required in the process of Teshuvah (repentance) and the mikvah (baptism).  Note that baptism goes all the way back to the Torah, it is not a New Testament only phenomenon.  According to the Scriptures, God Himself is described as “the spring of living water” according to Jeremiah 2:13 and 17:13. (ב:יג   כִּי-שְׁתַּיִם רָעוֹת עָשָֹה עַמִּי אֹתִי עָזְבוּ מְקוֹר | מַיִם חַיִּים לַחְצֹב לָהֶם בֹּארוֹת בֹּארֹת נִשְׁבָּרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָכִלוּ הַמָּיִם:  2:13 ‘For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water. NASB  יז:יג   מִקְוֵה יִשְֹרָאֵל יְהֹוָה כָּל-עֹזְבֶיךָ יֵבשׁוּ יְסוּרַי [וְסוּרַי] בָּאָרֶץ יִכָּתֵבוּ כִּי עָזְבוּ מְקוֹר מַיִם-חַיִּים אֶת-יְהֹוָה: 17:13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord. NASB)  Note also in the Apostolic Writings, Yeshua describes himself as the source of “Mayim Khayim” מַיִם חַיִּים “Living Waters” in John chapter 7.

With all of this technical information regarding the Scriptures, what exactly is the Lord trying to tell us regarding these opening verses in Parashat Tazria and a mother who gives birth to a baby boy verses a girl?  Throughout the Scriptures we are shown the process of separation and the requirement of holiness before God.  The Hebrew word studies take us back and forth through the Scriptures, the days of separation during the creation account, and the days of separation in the creation of new life and the birth of a child.  The final steps for the process of coming into purity is being cleansed in the “Mayim Khayim” (“Living Waters”).  Yeshua describing himself as the source of “Mayim Khayim” מַיִם חַיִּים “Living Waters” it can be concluded that the Lord is directing our attention to His Messiah.  The differences of the days of separation for a boy verses a girl is not so clear, but this command may have been given for the purpose of making the choice to obey God’s word.  To do what is right according to the Word of God or to walk in His ways (Derech HaShem).  As Yeshua being the Mayim Khayim (Living Waters), the Derech Hashem (Way of God) is to believe upon the Messiah, be cleansed and made pure.  For it is only in Him we are brought into relationship with the Lord God Almighty!  BTT_Parashat Tazria-2014

 
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Tehillim / Psalms 37, Part 1, The way of the Righteous in the time of evil

Published on March 21, 2014, by in Tehillim.

This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms 37:1-40, David opens the Psalm speaking of the unrighteous saying A Psalm of David 37:1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. 37:2 For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. (NASB)  David continues regarding the wicked saying:

  • 37:9 For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. 37:10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. (NASB)
  • 37:12 The wicked plots against the righteous And gnashes at him with his teeth. 37:13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees his day is coming. 37:14 The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow To cast down the afflicted and the needy, To slay those who are upright in conduct. 37:15 Their sword will enter their own heart, And their bows will be broken. (NASB)
  • 37:17 For the arms of the wicked will be broken, But the Lord sustains the righteous. (NASB)
  • 37:20 But the wicked will perish; And the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, They vanish like smoke they vanish away. 37:21 The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives. (NASB)
  • 37:32 The wicked spies upon the righteous And seeks to kill him. (NASB)
  • 37:38 But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off. (NASB)

David warns the righteous with a discussion how a righteous person who is suffering at the hand of the wicked can be misled into corrupted morality, seeking retribution, and false doctrines.  The powerful attractions of sinful behavior lie in the unconscious desire to satisfy physical and emotional needs.  The only true protection against the seductive pull of sin is to seek the Lord, rest and wait upon Him and His Messiah, and seeking the wisdom of His ways according to the Torah.  Read More here:Tehillim 37-Part1

 
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