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Posted March 29, 2019 - 9:31am

This week’s Torah reading is not only the source for the Torah’s dietary laws, but it also records the very first service of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. It was a time unprecedented in human history when the very presence of the LORD rested upon a physical structure created by the labor of man. But unfortunately, there was a horrible tragedy that took place immediately after this event. Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, enjoyed the presence of the LORD so much that they wanted to recreate it. They entered the the sanctuary with incense and “unauthorized fire” in order to experience this exhilarating event a second time. Rather than being enrapturing, however, the results were disastrous:

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1–3)

Because of this incident Aaron lost two of his four sons. Many people read through this account without any empathy for this great man who was bereaved of two of his children. However, without empathy we cannot realize the incredible strength and maturity of Aaron in this situation. Several translations say that Aaron “held his peace.” This conveys the basic concept, but the Hebrew is much more straightforward. It says that he was silent (vayidom). For a man who just experienced such a devastation as Aaron, this shows an incredible amount of self-restraint.

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:


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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