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Posted March 23, 2018 - 5:32am

Is Holiness Contagious?

Many people work their way through the book of Leviticus like a new sailor staggering across the deck of his ship hoping his sea legs will kick in. Navigating through the complex laws of sacrificial procedures and ritual purifications can be a challenging endeavor. It is a venture into uncharted and difficult waters. But if we desire to truly understand the rest of the Scriptures, taking time to map out these difficult concepts is essential. For instance, take this example from the book of Haggai:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: “If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?” The priests answered and said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.” (Haggai 2:11–14)

This argument is completely lost on one who has not studied the laws of ritual purity. In this particular case, Haggai is asking a question about the ability of objects to transfer both ritual purity and impurity. He uses this argument of the laws of purity to say that the Israelites are unable to offer a sacrifice that is considered pure, because they, themselves, have been defiled through their unethical and immoral behavior.

Paul, however, uses the laws of ritual purity to make a spiritual point to the congregation at Corinth. He tells them that if they are married to an unbelieving spouse, their spiritual state of holiness is somehow transferred to the spouse:

Posted March 16, 2018 - 7:31am

No Sacrifice For Sin

I can’t help but get excited when I begin studying the book of Leviticus. It’s an amazing book that deals with a wide range of topics, but has a primary focus on the levitical functions that take place within the Tabernacle. It wastes no time getting into its subject matter and immediately begins by discussing the details for the olah, or the whole burnt offering. From there it begins explaining the various aspects of each of the types of offerings that a person may bring to the LORD. 

To me, this is extremely fascinating. However, I find that most people aren’t as enthused as I am to study the book of Leviticus. They don’t understand what’s going on and are frankly uninterested. But I have come to realize that people don’t understand the biblical sacrificial system for the same reason they misunderstand the death of Yeshua: They look at each as a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. To them, the sacrifices were the old way we could get forgiveness for sinning, and the death of Yeshua is the new way. 

But is this really how it works? In the days of the Tabernacle and Temple, could we indulge in sin and then simply get pardoned through the blood of bulls and goats. In our present day and age can we do the same and receive pardon through the blood of Yeshua? First, let’s address the question in the context of the sacrificial system. The first thing we have to realize is that the sacrificial system does not have any kind of provision for intentional sins. All of the offerings that deal with sin are in the context of unintentional sins:

If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD's commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them …then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering. (Leviticus 4:2–3)

Posted March 9, 2018 - 8:13am

An Eternal Priesthood

What comes to mind when you hear someone speak of an “eternal priesthood”? If you are a disciple of Yeshua, then Yeshua’s ministry automatically comes to mind. As the book of Hebrews says, he is a high priest forever, continually ministering before his Heavenly Father on our behalf:

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19–20)

When most people read the book of Hebrews they see the everlasting priesthood of Yeshua replacing a temporary priesthood given for a season to the sons of Aaron. However, this is not the case. Yeshua’s priesthood is only one of the two eternal priesthoods that God established. One may be surprised to learn that the first eternal priesthood that we learn about in Scripture is the one belonging to Aaron and his sons, as we read in this week’s Torah portion:

Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations. (Exodus 40:12–15)

If this passage isn’t clear enough, in Exodus 29:9 we read, “And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever.” Not only does Exodus spell it out, but the prophet Jeremiah also attests to the Aaronic priesthood’s enduring position even more clearly:

Posted March 2, 2018 - 7:06am

Freedom On The Tablets

Parashat Ki Tisa is the transition between Moses’ encounter with the LORD on top of Mount Sinai and his return to the Children of Israel at the base of the mountain. While in the sublime presence of God, he was given a very special gift, “the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). The midrash tells us that these tablets were brilliant to look at, because they were made with lapis lazuli, a deep blue semi-precious stone with intense color. The Torah uses the following description for the tablets:

Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. (Exodus 32:15–16)

These commandments were not just something Moses came up with. These words, as well as the very tablets themselves, were given by God himself. Our sages use this passage to relate an important message about divine origins of the commandments God gave Moses to transmit to the Children of Israel:

It says: “And the tablets are the work of G-d, and the writing is G-d’s writing, engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:16). Read not “engraved” (charut), but “liberty” (cheirut)—for there is no free individual, except for he who occupies himself with the study of Torah. And whoever occupies himself with the study of Torah is elevated, as is stated (Numbers 21:19), “And from Mattanah (“the gift”) to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth (“the heights”). (Avot 6:2)

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Latest Book Review

The Magerman Edition

Author: Daniel Rose & Jay Goldmintz
Publisher: Koren Publishers
Year: 2014

The Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur is one of the latest in Koren’s growing collection of siddurim (prayer books) geared towards a specific demographic. Koren describes Ani Tefilla as “an engaging and thought-provoking siddur for the inquiring high school student and thoughtful adult.” Koren says that Ani Tefillah has been developed in order “to help the user create their own meaning and connection during the Tefilla [prayer] experience.” The name of the siddur is connected with its objective. Ani Tefilla means “I pray.” 

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