Studying the Commandments is considered as having Fulfilled Them, פרשת ובחקתי, Parashat Bechukotai

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This week’s Torah portion opens with Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-5 saying, ג אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם: ד וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ: ה וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹֹבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח בְּאַרְצְכֶם: 26:3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 26:4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 26:5 ‘Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. (NASB) What we find here is a great blessing upon one’s life if a person is careful to obey the commandments of God to carry them out. An important point to notice is how the text is written using the words בְּחֻקֹּתַי and מִצְוֹתַי where the Lord God calls these “my statutes” and “my commandments,” respectively. These are God’s commandments for His people. The question we have to ask ourselves is “are we His people?” When the church of the second and third centuries began to drift away from her Jewish roots, misconceptions developed concerning the aspects of God’s Law, the Torah. This was due to the influences of Greek philosophy and pagan ideas. The first misconception that entered into the doctrines of the church was concerning the inherent goodness of the Torah. To the Hebraic mind, the primary purpose of the Torah was to teach humanity how to hit the mark in life (defining sin and rebellion) as opposed to committing sin (missing the mark). In the Greek Language, there is only one word for Law (nomos) and so when speaking of the “law of God” or the “law of sin” or the “law of the Spirit of life,” or the “law of Christ,” etc it is often difficult to discern what is being spoken of in the NT. (Romans 7 and 8 shows the goodness of God’s law as the law of the Spirit, as opposed to the law of sin and death and the body.) To the Greek thinker, the “law” (nomos) had a negative connotation, whereas for the Hebrew mind, the Torah had a positive image. This then led to the misconception that the Law and Grace are polar opposites and the Torah was replaced by the age of grace. Once the Torah is understood from the Jewish perspective, as the instruction of God as a way of life for His people, the error is exposed. This idea of the opposing concepts of Law vs. Grace was developed from the false pagan view that the Jews were saved by works, while the Church was saved by faith. Many early Gentile believers mixed Gnostic ideas with their Christian theology and concluded that the God of the Jews was a harsh, legalistic God as opposed to the God of love described in the NT. The 1st century church understood the Lord God of Israel as being the one true God who is immutable, having one place of salvation by faith in both the OT (Tanach) and the NT, a plan which involved the Messiah of God. The prophet Daniel wrote some 600 years prior to Yeshua being on this earth of the Jewish concept of repentance and trust in the God of Israel for His Mercy (Grace) apart from any works of the Law (see Daniel 9:18). In the opening to Parashat Bechukotai, we find the blessing of God to those who would obey God’s Word putting faith into action in a practical way, and then seeing the Lord’s blessing come upon His people of faith. This is the role of the Torah in our lives, to have a way to express our faith that is pleasing to God.

The Rabbis describe these things in a similar way saying the following according to the Talmud Bavli.

Talmud Bavli Avodah Zarah 5a
The Sages taught with regard to the verse: “If you walk in My statutes” (Leviticus 26:3): In this context, “if” is a term that means nothing other than supplication, i.e., God is hoping that the Jewish people will observe the Torah. And similarly, it is stated: “Oh that My people would hearken to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways, I would soon subdue their enemies” (Psalms 81:14–15). And it states: “Oh that you would hearken to My commandments! Then your peace would be as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea. Your seed also would be as the sand, and the offspring of your body like its grains” (Isaiah 48:18–19).

The rabbis say the word “if” (אִם) is supplication (prayer) and speak of God’s hope that His people would walk in His ways. The end result is the Lord God would subdue our enemies and peace would flow like a river and the Lord would bless us with many children. The rabbis also make an interesting statement in the following quote from the Talmud Bavli.

Talmud Bavli Kiddushin 61b
The Gemara asks a related question: Granted, according to the opinion of Rabbi Meir, this is the reason that it is written: “If you walk in My statutes” (Leviticus 26:3), you will receive blessings; conversely: “And if you shall reject My statutes” (Leviticus 26:15), you will receive curses. However, according to the opinion of Rabbi Ḥanina ben Gamliel, why do I need both of these clauses? The Gemara answers: They are both necessary, as it might enter your mind to say: If you follow My statutes you will receive a blessing, whereas if you reject My statutes you will receive neither a blessing nor a curse. The verse therefore teaches us that the rejection of God’s statutes warrants a curse.

The discussion involves the verse “‘If you walk in My statutes’(Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3), you will receive blessings, and on the other hand, ‘And if you shall reject My statutes’ (Vayikra / Leviticus 26:15), you will receive curses.” The reasoning is one may think one will receive a blessing if one obeys God’s Word, and nothing will happen if one disobeys God’s Word. This is exactly what we see going on in the Church theologies that teach “we don’t have to obey God’s Law” under the assumption that all one has to do is say they believe in Jesus and all is good. This concept divorces the idea of faithfulness from our lives. It also follows through from the pagan idea that one earned his/her salvation in the OT and now in the NT God changed that. This is the theological teaching point of dispensationalism and it completely misses the mark on the role of the Torah in our lives, and is rooted in a pagan way of thinking. The point is, the Torah was never meant as a means to earn one’s salvation. The Torah was meant to be a way of life to walk in righteousness, holiness, justice, and truth as a people of God who are already delivered and redeemed. This week’s Torah portion draws out this concept saying אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ, “If you will walk in My statutes” the Lord God will command the clouds and the soil and the trees all of which have been created only for your sake, to do their share, and He will bless us.

The point these things ultimately are speaking to us about is in light of what these Scriptures are saying, whether we are willing to submit our lives to God our Father in heaven according to His word and to Yeshua the Messiah? James 4:7 states “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ θεῷ ἀντίστητε τῷ διαβόλῳ καὶ φεύξεται ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν, Delitzch: לָכֵן הִכָּנְעוּ לִפְנֵי הָאֱלׂהִים הִתְיַצְּבוּ נֶגֶד הַשָּׂטָן וְיִבְרַח מִפְּנֵיכֶם Salkinson-Ginsburg: לָכֵן הִכָּנְעוּ מִפְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים הִתְיַצְּבוּ בִּפְנֵי הַשָּׂטָן וְיָנוּס מִפְּנֵיכֶם BSI: עַל כֵּן הִכָּנְעוּ לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים. אהִתְיַצְּבוּ נֶגֶד הַשָּׂטָן וְיִבְרַח מִפְּנֵיכֶם Peshitta: אשתעבדו הכיל לאלהא וקומו לוקבל סטנא וערק מנכו) In James the word submit is translated from the Greek word hupotasso (ὑποτάγητε). The word hupo means “under” and the word tasso means “to arrange.” Hupotasso therefore means to be subjected or in subjection to something. The word translates as “to obey” and the Hebrew translation writes this as הִכָּנְעוּ meaning “to surrender.” This word means to place one’s self under obedience or to be obedient to as a servant and is the way the Peshitta opens on James 4:7 (אשתעבדו). The Greek word “to arrange” one’s self under the command is a divine viewpoint of living according to a new way of life in obedience to God’s Word rather than to one’s own way of thinking. When we order our lives according to God’s word, we are surrendering our will to that of our Father in heaven. James is speaking of having a humble and submissive heart which is a choice that we make. This is the same idea we receive when reading the opening passages to this week’s Torah portion, אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out.” The idea of resisting the devil and he will flee is connected to giving the evil one a place by our sins. Submitting ourselves to God’s word requires the daily choice to walk in God’s ways, and doing so requires help from our Father in heaven (by His indwelling Spirit). This means those who are called by the Name of God, and by His Messiah Yeshua, daily make the choice to submit themselves to God for the work of His Spirit in their lives allowing the Lord to transform them into the image of His Son Yeshua. The Lord God Almighty uses the situations in our lives giving us opportunity daily to submit to Him according to His word (Romans 8:28-29). We then accept His mercy to walk according to His Word in repentance and learn to draw near each day. We learn about these things through the study of God’s Word and by applying God’s Word to our lives. We choose to submit to God for the purpose of growing spiritually. This is a process and is very important as the Lord God has made His dwelling place in our hearts. As a result, the Lord gives us the blessing of peace that comes from humbly surrendering and submitting our lives to Him on a daily basis, nothing in this world can compare to the mercies and peace the Lord gives us.

The Scriptures we are looking at for this week are from Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-26.

Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-26
26:3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 26:4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 26:5 ‘Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. 26:6 ‘I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. 26:7 ‘But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; 26:8 five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. 26:9 ‘So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. 26:10 ‘You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. 26:11 ‘Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. 26:12 ‘I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 26:13 ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. 26:14 ‘But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, 26:15 if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, 26:16 I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up. 26:17 ‘I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you. 26:18 ‘If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 26:19 ‘I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze. 26:20 ‘Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit. 26:21 ‘If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins. 26:22 ‘I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which will bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle and reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted. 26:23 ‘And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, 26:24 then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins. 26:25 ‘I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant; and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands. 26:26 ‘When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.

ג אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם: ד וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ: ה וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹֹבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח בְּאַרְצְכֶם: [שני] ו וְנָתַתִּי שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּם וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד וְהִשְׁבַּתִּי חַיָּה רָעָה מִן-הָאָרֶץ וְחֶרֶב לֹא-תַעֲבֹר בְּאַרְצְכֶם: ז וּרְדַפְתֶּם אֶת-אֹיְבֵיכֶם וְנָפְלוּ לִפְנֵיכֶם לֶחָרֶב: ח וְרָדְפוּ מִכֶּם חֲמִשָּׁה מֵאָה וּמֵאָה מִכֶּם רְבָבָה יִרְדֹּפוּ וְנָפְלוּ אֹיְבֵיכֶם לִפְנֵיכֶם לֶחָרֶב: ט וּפָנִיתִי אֲלֵיכֶם וְהִפְרֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶתְכֶם וַהֲקִימֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אִתְּכֶם: [שלישי] [חמישי כשהן מחוברין] י וַאֲכַלְתֶּם יָשָׁן נוֹשָׁן וְיָשָׁן מִפְּנֵי חָדָשׁ תּוֹצִיאוּ: יא וְנָתַתִּי מִשְׁכָּנִי בְּתוֹכֲכֶם וְלֹא-תִגְעַל נַפְשִׁי אֶתְכֶם: יב וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי בְּתוֹכֲכֶם וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי לְעָם: יג אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִהְיֹת לָהֶם עֲבָדִים וָאֶשְׁבֹּר מֹטֹת עֻלְּכֶם וָאוֹלֵךְ אֶתְכֶם קוֹמְמִיּוּת: פ יד וְאִם-לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ לִי וְלֹא תַעֲשֹוּ אֵת כָּל-הַמִּצְוֹת הָאֵלֶּה: טו וְאִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תִּמְאָסוּ וְאִם אֶת-מִשְׁפָּטַי תִּגְעַל נַפְשְׁכֶם לְבִלְתִּי עֲשֹוֹת אֶת-כָּל-מִצְוֹתַי לְהַפְרְכֶם אֶת-בְּרִיתִי: טז אַף-אֲנִי אֶעֱשֶֹה-זֹּאת לָכֶם וְהִפְקַדְתִּי עֲלֵיכֶם בֶּהָלָה אֶת-הַשַּׁחֶפֶת וְאֶת-הַקַּדַּחַת מְכַלּוֹת עֵינַיִם וּמְדִיבֹת נָפֶשׁ וּזְרַעְתֶּם לָרִיק זַרְעֲכֶם וַאֲכָלֻהוּ אֹיְבֵיכֶם: יז וְנָתַתִּי פָנַי בָּכֶם וְנִגַּפְתֶּם לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֵיכֶם וְרָדוּ בָכֶם שֹֹנְאֵיכֶם וְנַסְתֶּם וְאֵין-רֹדֵף אֶתְכֶם: יח וְאִם-עַד-אֵלֶּה לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ לִי וְיָסַפְתִּי לְיַסְּרָה אֶתְכֶם שֶׁבַע עַל-חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם: יט וְשָׁבַרְתִּי אֶת-גְּאוֹן עֻזְּכֶם וְנָתַתִּי אֶת-שְׁמֵיכֶם כַּבַּרְזֶל וְאֶת-אַרְצְכֶם כַּנְּחֻשָׁה: כ וְתַם לָרִיק כֹּחֲכֶם וְלֹא-תִתֵּן אַרְצְכֶם אֶת-יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הָאָרֶץ לֹא יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ: כא וְאִם-תֵּלְכוּ עִמִּי קֶרִי וְלֹא תֹאבוּ לִשְׁמֹעַ לִי וְיָסַפְתִּי עֲלֵיכֶם מַכָּה שֶׁבַע כְּחַטֹּאתֵיכֶם: כב וְהִשְׁלַחְתִּי בָכֶם אֶת-חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְשִׁכְּלָה אֶתְכֶם וְהִכְרִיתָה אֶת-בְּהֶמְתְּכֶם וְהִמְעִיטָה אֶתְכֶם וְנָשַׁמּוּ דַּרְכֵיכֶם: כג וְאִם-בְּאֵלֶּה לֹא תִוָּסְרוּ לִי וַהֲלַכְתֶּם עִמִּי קֶרִי: כד וְהָלַכְתִּי אַף-אֲנִי עִמָּכֶם בְּקֶרִי וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶתְכֶם גַּם-אָנִי שֶׁבַע עַל-חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם: כה וְהֵבֵאתִי עֲלֵיכֶם חֶרֶב נֹקֶמֶת נְקַם-בְּרִית וְנֶאֱסַפְתֶּם אֶל-עָרֵיכֶם וְשִׁלַּחְתִּי דֶבֶר בְּתוֹכֲכֶם וְנִתַּתֶּם בְּיַד-אוֹיֵב: כו בְּשִׁבְרִי לָכֶם מַטֵּה-לֶחֶם וְאָפוּ עֶשֶֹר נָשִׁים לַחְמְכֶם בְּתַנּוּר אֶחָד וְהֵשִׁיבוּ לַחְמְכֶם בַּמִּשְׁקָל וַאֲכַלְתֶּם וְלֹא תִשְֹבָּעוּ:

In the opening passages of this week’s Torah portion from Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-5 we read, ג אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם: ד וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ: ה וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹֹבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח בְּאַרְצְכֶם: 26:3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 26:4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 26:5 ‘Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. (NASB) The rabbis say the reason the word חקותי, “My statutes,” is in the plural is an allusion to the two aspects of Torah (i) the Mishnah, and (ii) the written Torah. The idea is this word indicates the unity between the oral and written Torah. The reason the Torah uses the term (הליכה ,תֵּלֵכוּ, walking) when speaking about the חקים (statutes) is to remind us that one needs to be occupied with matters of Torah even when engaged in walking on one’s way, much as when the Torah said in Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:7 וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ “and when you walk on the way.” The reason the Torah uses the word for walking (הליכה, תֵּלֵכוּ) is to consider our ways coupled with this idea of turning back to God’s decrees (see Tehillim / Psalms 119:59) Based on the Zohar (volume 3 page 202) the Torah can be studied on four different levels (Pardes) the פשט, רמז, דרוש, and סוד. These four methods between them account for what the sages call the 70 facets of the Torah. Each of these 70 facets is perceived as being a “path” one walks in the study of God’s statutes. Notice how the concept here has studying being connected to obeying the command, applying it to life. When we take God’s word and apply it to our lives, this is considered studying the Word of God. Based upon Mishley / Proverbs 3:6, we read Solomon saying, בְּכָל-דְּרָכֶיךָ דָעֵהוּ, “In all your ways acknowledge Him,” Maimonides writes in chapter 3 of Hilchot Deyot that “a person should set his mind on having a perfect body in order to possess the physical strength to devote himself to Torah.” The idea here is to take care of ourselves, eating healthy, exercising, so that we have the physical strength to study God’s Word and to actually put God’s Word into action in our lives. Note the connection to both studying and applying God’s Word leads to this conclusion. The words וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם “and keep My commandments so as to carry them out” are perceived as the framework for investigative Torah exploration. The rabbinic literature states as long as the purpose of Torah study is to lead to performance of God’s commandments, the Torah encourages the pursuit of diverse paths of study. (Or HaChaim on Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3 Part 1-46) These things again teach us how everything we do is spiritual, and as our lives touch this world, we are having a spiritual impact upon something or someone at any given time. This should cause us to think about how we live our lives on a daily basis and why there is such a high biblical imperative to study God’s Word, to place it upon our hearts, and to practice our faith in the application of God’s Word to living.

The spiritual connectedness to our faith and our actions is described in the following way according to the commentary Or HaChaim on Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3:

Or HaChaim on Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3 Part 1
אם בחקותי תלכו, “If you walk in My statutes, etc.” In Torat Kohanim they explain this as follows: “if the Torah had spoken only about בחוקותי, I would have assumed that what was meant were the מצות. Now that the Torah added the words ואת מצותי, the word בחקותי cannot apply to the מצות seeing the Torah already wrote about them. The additional word בחקותי therefore teaches us that one has to toil in order to get Torah knowledge.” The reason the Torah refers to toiling over Torah by using the expression חקה is because there is a commandment to study matters again and again even if one had already studied them several times and they have been well absorbed. G’d wants us to study Torah out of a fondness for it and this is why He formulated a statute to that effect. We find that our sages in Kohelet Rabbah 3 state that G’d decreed that we will forget part of what we learned in order that we should sit down and learn it repeatedly.

What is being taught here in the rabbinic commentary is the idea of applying God’s Word to our lives (toiling) and of the divine inspiration learning something new each time one goes through the Torah each year. The reason the rabbis go on and on about the importance of Torah study is because of the matter of authentic faith. The Talmud Bavli Menachot 110a describes faith in God’s Word connected to study in the following way, רבי יוחנן אמר אלו תלמידי חכמים העסוקין בהלכות עבודה מעלה עליהם הכתוב כאילו נבנה מקדש בימיהם “And Rabbi Yoḥanan says that there is an alternative explanation of the verse: These are Torah scholars, who engage in studying the halakhot of the Temple service. The verse ascribes them credit as though the Temple was built in their days and they are serving in it.” The idea here is through faith, studying the halakhot in the scriptures on the Temple service ascribes credit as though the temple were built and one was performing the services. This is similar to the faith that one has in Yeshua the Messiah, in His atoning sacrifices, it is as if one has by faith brought to the Temple the appropriate sacrifices. (Notice how the NT idea of believing upon Yeshua is a rabbinic concept.) Now these commands on the blessing and the curse are juxtaposed to the laws on the Shemita and Yovel which relate to being faithful and obeying God’s Word, as we saw in last week’s Torah portion. Having faith and being faithful will lead to the Lord God of Israel bringing rain in its season at the appropriate times along with a blessing on the harvest, one’s job, and family (offspring). The rabbis say, “The Torah compensates for the performance of a specific command. Whenever a commandment is not capable of fulfillment by a person (such as all the legislation involving the priesthood for non-priests) study of the relevant portion in the Torah is accounted for the person studying it as if he had personally fulfilled that commandment.” (Talmud Bavli Menachot 110a, Or HaChaim on Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3 Part 18) Therefore, accordingly, we understand the phrase אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ followed by וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ to mean that “if you study the commandments then you will be considered as having fulfilled My commandments.” Note that this does not mean that one may study and then not apply God’s Word to living. (Note also this rabbinic concept to “fulfill” does not mean to do away with, but to properly perform a command. This is how Yeshua used the command in Matthew 5:17 and we can see this proper usage of the world fulfill in the rabbinic commentary.) The word תִּשְׁמְרוּ means you are anxiously awaiting an opportunity to physically fulfill such commandments. As a result the phrase וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם, “so as to carry them out” carries the meaning that you will not only receive the reward for studying God’s Word but for having also put God’s Word into action. This is why the NT holds such a high standard to love and knowing our Father in heaven and His Messiah Yeshua. (1 Corinthians 13:2, 1 John 2:6-10) This is what it means to have faith by being faithful to God’s Word. This draws us back to the idea of submitting ourselves to God’s word requires the daily choice to walk in God’s ways, and doing so requires help from our Father in heaven by His indwelling Spirit. This means those who are called by the Name of God, and by His Messiah Yeshua, daily make the choice to submit themselves to God for the work of His Spirit in their lives allowing the Lord to transform them into the image of His Son Yeshua. Are you doing this each day as the Scriptures are teaching us to do? These are all Torah centric concepts, which adds more credence to why the Torah and the Gospel Message go hand in hand!

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!