Bits of Torah Truths, פרשת נשא, Parashat Naso, Repentance, a necessity of Heart and Life
In this week’s Torah portion we read the following in Bamidbar / Numbers 5:5-9, וידבר יהוה אל־משה לאמר 5:5 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: דבר אל־בני ישראל איש או־אשה כי יעשו מכל־חטאת האדם למעל מעל ביהוה ואשמה הנפש ההוא 5:6 Speak to the Israelites: When a man or woman commits any wrong toward a fellow man, thus breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, והתודו את־חטאתם אשר עשו והשיב את־אשמו בראשו וחמישתו יסף עליו ונתן לאשר אשם לו 5:7 he shall confess the wrong that he has done. He shall make restitution in the principal amount and add one-fifth to it, giving it to him whom he has wronged. ואם־אין לאיש גאל להשיב האשם אליו האשם המושב ליהוה לכהן מלבד איל הכפרים אשר יכפר־בו עליו 5:8 If the man has no kinsman to whom restitution can be made, the amount repaid shall go to the LORD for the priest—in addition to the ram of expiation with which expiation is made on his behalf. וכל־תרומה לכל־קדשי בני־ישראל אשר־יקריבו לכהן לו יהיה 5:9 So, too, any gift among the sacred donations that the Israelites offer shall be the priest’s. The Scriptures say “when a man or woman commits any wrong toward a fellow man…” he does so breaking faith with the Lord God Almighty. This is a very important concept here, because it speaks of our love for the Lord God in heaven is connected to our love for one another. Rashi describes this in the following way in His commentary on Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6 Part 1 “למעל מעל בה׳ [WHEN A MAN OR WOMAN SHALL DO ANY OF THE SINS AGAINST MAN,] TO ACT DECEITFULLY AGAINST THE LORD — Here, you see, Scripture writes down again the section dealing with a person who robs by violence from another, and swears falsely regarding it; it is the same section that has already been stated in the Sedrah ויקרא (Lev 5:21), “[If a soul sin], and commits a trespass against the Lord, and deny unto his neighbor etc.” The reason why it is repeated here is because of two new points which are contained in it. The one is that it (Scripture) writes here, “and if they confess” which teaches that one is not liable to payment of the fifth (in addition to the capital; cf. Leviticus 5:24), nor to bring a guilt offering (cf. Leviticus 5:25) if he is convicted by the evidence of witnesses, but only when he himself confesses the matter (his guilt). The second new point is about something stolen from a proselyte (cf. Rashi on v. 8) — that it has to be handed over to the priests (cf. Sifrei Bamidbar 2).” Rashi makes the connection to Vayikra / Leviticus 5:21 and making restitution for property that was stolen or for damages made. These things speak not only of faithfulness to God but also of faithfulness to man and to his neighbor. In addition, confessing our sins before God is connected to our owning up to what we had done and taking action to live by our faith. There is the old adage, “actions speak louder than words.” This phrase is true because words alone are cheap when not coupled to action. When it comes to our faith, if our words and actions are saying different things we must look to our actions for the truth. This is because our actions speak to what we truly believe in our hearts. This may be why the Torah connects how we treat our neighbor is related to our faith and love of the Lord God in heaven (Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6). This is what James wrote to us in his book, in James 2:18 (faith without works is dead), and John tells us in 1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (NASB) Yeshua says the same thing in John chapter 10, and the people pick up stones to stone him (John 10:27-31). Yeshua asks them “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” (John 10:32) The people respond that they don’t want to stone him for his works but for his words (John 10:33). He replies saying, “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me [i.e. my words]; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38) Take note how Yeshua says what we do has greater weight than what we say. The reason being, words alone are meaningless without being coupled to action. This is why the hypergrace movement is utter nonsense. We read earlier Yeshua said in John 10:24-25, “[The] Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.’” (John 10:24-25) Yeshua’s actions spoke clearly of who he is and his purpose teaching repentance. Faith by its very nature produces action. This is why our actions are linked to our faith, and to prayer before God. When we live out what we believe, our actions speak volumes towards our request before God. This is why Yeshua said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). That’s why Paul spoke of “the obedience of faith” among the Gentiles opening and closing the book of Romans in regards to obedience and faith. (See Romans 1:5 and 16:26. This reveals to us how the gospel message is connected to obeying God. i.e. being set free from sin to sin no more.). This is also why the author of the book of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 11 using a catalog of examples of how faith works which is illustrated in the faithfulness of God’s people. These things teach us that faith is coupled to being faithful which is connected to the commandments of God in the Torah. The commentary Chizkuni on Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6 Part 2 states the following, “.ואשמה הנפש ההיא, והתודו, ”and that soul shall be guilty, and confess;” Rabbi Natan claims that this is a line that can be used universally for all such trespasses, that the first step in rehabilitation of the sinner must be his confession of having committed this trespass. (Sifri)” The conclusion is that one must confess His sin before God. We have to admit what we have done in order for change to occur. Otherwise we are simply hiding deception in our hearts before men and God. The Scriptures state, “דבר אל־בני ישראל איש או־אשה כי יעשו מכל־חטאת האדם למעל מעל ביהוה ואשמה הנפש ההוא, ‘if they will commit any sin that people are in the habit of committing;’ the rabbis discuss whether one needs to repent depending upon whether one has any remaining heirs to the one whom the sin was committed. This is connected to making restitution and paying back the fifth. The Torah is written in such a way juxtaposing these things along side one another for the purpose of preventing the “Finders keepers” mentality. The Torah teaches us that this is not so, but that the Lord is the One Who considers Himself as having also been sinned against. When we sin against another man, woman, or child, we break faith with our Father in heaven and with His Messiah Yeshua. This is why the first step in the rehabilitation of the person (i.e. to restore the covenant relationship) is repentance. There are Christians however who follow the heretical doctrine of Hypergrace and do not believe repentance is necessary in the life of a believer or for the forgiveness of sins. All of The Torah, Prophets, Writings, and the Apostolic Writings (NT) however speak otherwise.