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Posted March 22, 2019 - 4:12pm
Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1[8]-8:36)

Sometimes, to our modern minds, the Torah’s instructions can seem irrelevant, primitive, or even savage. Take this week’s Torah reading for example. The first few chapters continue on about the various ritual sacrifices that our previous portion began describing. In chapter seven we learn that the meat from certain sacrifices may not be leftover after a certain amount of time. The meat of some sacrifices must be eaten before the next morning, but others may be extended until the following evening. The consequence for eating this meat after the prescribed time is that the person will be sinning:

He who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity. (Leviticus 7:18)

Seriously? Someone could be sinning by simply eating meat after a specified time period? This seems unreasonable to most people today. It isn’t logical. But neither is the prohibitions against eating certain other things. The consequences of eating these certain other things, however, seem even more extreme:

But the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. (Leviticus 7:20)

For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the LORD shall be cut off from his people. (Leviticus 7:25)

Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.  (Leviticus 7:27)

Posted March 15, 2019 - 8:24am
Parashat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26[6:7])

Parashat Vayikra is the first reading in the book of Leviticus. It is a natural continuation of what we have concluded in the book of Shemot, Exodus. The Mishkan (Tabernacle) has just been completed and is now “open for business.” Thus, the book of Leviticus begins by spelling out the operational procedures for the Tabernacle, describing what kinds of offerings may be brought, the parameters for these offerings, and how they are to be offered. Within these descriptions there are various kinds of offerings, all of which require the blood of animals with the exception of a handful of offerings that are from the produce of the field.

When most people think of the sacrificial system they immediately see the sole function of these animals as a means of dealing with sin. However, as we begin learning about these offerings the topic of sin doesn’t come into the picture until much later. In the list of various sacrifices described in the book of Leviticus, the olah, the “whole burnt offering,” is the very first on the list. It is typically described as a whole burnt offering because it is entirely burnt up:

When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD … And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (Leviticus 1:2–3, 9)

Posted March 8, 2019 - 5:22am
Parashat Pekudei (Exodus 35:1 - 40:38)

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 1, 2019 - 5:51am

Parashat Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Although Parashat Vayakhel is almost entirely focused on the construction of the Tabernacle it begins by reminding the Children of Israel that no work may be done on the Sabbath. Why does it begin here, rather than jumping right into how the Tabernacle was constructed? As we have previously mentioned, placing the topic of the Sabbath against the construction of the Tabernacle  was God’s way of defining the boundaries of the Sabbath. However, there is another layer to understanding this point and it actually connects back to the golden calf.

As we know, while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah, the Children of Israel decided to make a golden calf to worship. Why did they do this? Was it simply that they had quickly given up on the God who had delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh and they decided to return to the pagan deities of Egypt? No. In their zeal to worship their Deliverer they did so in a way they were most familiar. They instinctively used their most precious resources to create something they believed would connect them to the LORD. 

After creating the idol they said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD” (Exodus 32:5). But what they created was not what Hashem wanted. He wanted them to create the Tabernacle to serve as the connection between Heaven and Earth, not a golden calf. After this incident of the golden calf the LORD had to constantly remind them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded.” Even though they had a spiritual zeal that desired to serve Hashem wholeheartedly, it was misguided and needed proper direction.


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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