In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
Behar,Bechukotai: Treasure to Take Within Us 5777
Here we are, perched upon the threshold of another Chazak Shabbat, polishing off the final two Parashiot of Sefer Vayikra. I have to share that I have never had a more meaningful jaunt through the heart of the Torah than with you in this year’s cycle. I pray that it has been the same for you. The timely nature of the readings connecting with the calendar observances alongside national and personal events has certainly elevated a sense of awe. Not to mention the fascinating tapestry we’ve been privileged to uncover via the Hebrew, the means by which I marvel at the word of the Most High Master of the universe.
This week’s reading finds us leaving sefer Vayikra, and before we ‘end’ a book of Torah we should realize the last verse (s) will somehow prepare us for what is to come, Bemidbar- in the wilderness lies ahead. Parasha Behar ends with these words: Vayikra 25; 2 You shall keep My Sabbaths and revere My Sanctuary. I am the Lord. And Parasha Bechukotai ends with these words: Vayikra 26; 34 These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses to the children of Israel on Mount Sinai. These are the nourishment and provision by which we will live, even in the wilderness experiences and places in our lives.
Vayikra 26; 46 These are the statutes, the ordinances, and the laws that the Lord gave between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses.
These. We have learned that there was much more given than just ten words at Sinai to the people in covenant with Hashem. In studying what THESE are we will have a fuller picture of the lawgiver & His plan for one another as part of nation who would enter into the Promise, take up the charge of Avraham & learn to become a source of light and blessing to the entire world. Before we left sefer B’reshit we recapped the overall importance we learned, before leaving Sh’mot we went back to the garden, before we leave the book of Kohanim, Leviticus, the words God called וַיִּקְרָא let us take a look at a chiasm which thematically connects us from the center of Shemot to the end of Vayikra. Why? Because as we will, b’ezrat Hashem, see that the Torah is (as I believe the entire bible is) a unified document. We will converge on a central point which will help us understand one of the outstanding messages Hashem has implanted in the structure of this document.
Ephesians 1;3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, who has blessed us in Messiah with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. 4 For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love 5 He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Yeshua Messiah, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One.7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Messiah 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Messiah.11In Him we were also chosen as God’s own, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything by the counsel of His will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Messiah, would be for the praise of His glory. 13 And in Him you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, having heard and believed the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. 14The Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His glory.
(See Chiasm Page)
Vayikra 26; 3 If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them, 4 I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit. (Central theme before the curses are expounded : ) 11And I will place My dwelling in your midst, and My Spirit will not reject you; 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people.13 I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt from being slaves to them; and I broke the pegs of your yoke and led you upright.
Vayikra 25; 42 For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt they shall not be sold as a slave is sold. 43 You shall not work him with rigor, and you shall fear your God. (repeating word- redemption ) 54 And if he is not redeemed through these [ways], he shall go out in the Jubilee year he and his children with him. 55 For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants, whom I took out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.
#1350 (v) ga’al גָּאַל – to require blood; to avenge bloodshed; require the penalty of bloodshed; near relative; near of kin; near kinsman; to be redeemed; to redeem oneself.
#1353 (fem n) geullah גְּאֻלָּה – redemption; field to be redeemed; price of redemption; relationship; kindred-ship.
- B’reshit 48:16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
- (The context is Ya’acov blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, the picture of blessings as nations come into Israel and unity in brotherhood.)
- Shemot 6;6 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
- ( Promise to remove his people from exile, we can expect this promise to be realized in near and far prophecy.)
- Shemot 15:13 “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; in Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.
- (The point of redemption: to become a people Holy to Hashem- salty and brilliant, functioning in purpose, where they are supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to do. Shining forth from the Temple in Yisrael.)
- [The following are the only contexts in Torah for Geullah.] Vayikra 25; 23‘The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.24 ‘Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land.25 ‘If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold. 26 ‘Or in case a man has no kinsman, but so recovers his means as to find sufficient for its redemption….29 ‘Likewise, if a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, then his redemption גְּאֻלָּתֹו right remains valid until a full year from its sale; his right of redemption גְּאֻלָּתֹו lasts a full year. 30 ‘But if it is not bought back for him within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city passes permanently to its purchaser throughout his generations; it does not revert in the jubilee.…31 ‘The houses of the villages, however, which have no surrounding wall shall be considered as open fields; they have redemption rights and revert in the jubilee. 32 ‘As for cities of the Levites, the Levites have a permanent right of redemption for the houses of the cities which are their possession. 33 ‘What, therefore,belongs to the Levites may be redeemed and a house.. sale in the city of this possession reverts in the jubilee, for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the sons of Israel. …48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him,49 or his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him; or if he prospers, he may redeem himself. 51 ‘If there are still many years, he shall refund part of his purchase price in proportion to them for his own redemption; 52 and if few years remain until the year of jubilee, he shall so calculate with him. In proportion to his years he is to refund the amount for his redemption. 54 ‘Even if he is not redeemed by these means, he shall still go out in the year of jubilee, he & his sons with him.
Chiasm Spanning Sh’mot 19 to Vayikra 27
A) Blessing and Curse— Bechukkotai
Bechukkotai—Vay. 26-27:34 Blessing and Curse for Obedience or Disobedience—Vayikra 26:3-35.
Read Vayikra perek כו
| B) First Three of Ten Commandments— Behar
Behar— Vayikra 25:1-26:2 The First 3 Commandments from the Ten Commandments- Vayikra 26:1-2.
| | C) Shemittah and Yovel— Behar
Behar—Leviticus 25:1-26:2 Shemittah and the Yovel (Year of Jubilee)—Leviticus 25:1-55.
| | | D) Blasphemer/Instructions between Man and His Fellow Man— Emor
Emor-Vayikra 21:1-24:23 The Blasphemer (Instructions between man & his fellow man)Vayikra 24:10-23.
| | | | E) The Menorah and Showbread— Emor
Emor—Vayikra 21:1-24:23 The Menorah and the Showbread—Vayikra 24:1-9.
| | | | | F) The Mo’edim/Shabbat— Emor
Emor—Vayikra 21:1-24:23 The Mo’edim/Shabbat—Vayikra 23.
| | | | | | G) Animals Fit to Offer— Emor
Emor—Vayikra 21:1-24:23 Animals Fit to Offer—Vayikra 22.
| | | | | | | H) Holiness Among the Priests— Emor
Emor—Vayikra 21:1-24:23 Holiness Among the Priests—Leviticus 21.
| | | | | | | | I) The Shekhinah and Requirements of Holiness- Vayikra 17
Yom Kippur- Atonement for ALL sins accomplished. Vayikra 16
| | | | | | | H) Holiness Among the Priests— Tzav
Tzav -Vayikra 6:1-8:36 Holiness Among the Priests—Vayikra 6-8
| | | | | | G) Animals Fit to Offer— Vayikra
Vayikra- Vayikra 1:1-5:26 Animals Fit to Offer—Vayikra 1-5
| | | | | F) The Mo’edim/Shabbat— Ki Tissa/Vayakhel
Ki Tissa/Vayakhel —Shemot 30:11-38:20 The Mo’edim/Shabbat—Shemot 31:12-17 and 35:2-3.
| | | | E) The Menorah and Showbread— Terumah and Tetzaveh
Terumah & Tetzaveh—Shem. 25:1-Shem. 30:10The Menorah & the Showbread—Shem.27:20-21& 25:30.
| | | D) Blasphemer/Instructions between Man and His Fellow Man—Mishpatim
Shem.21:1-24:18 The Blasphemer (Instructions between man and his fellow man). Shem. 21:12, & 23-25
| | C) Shemittah and Yovel—Yitro/Mishpatim
Yitro/Mishpatim —Shemot 21:1- 24:18 Shemittah and the Yovel (Year of Jubilee)—Shemot 23:10-11.
| B) First Three of Ten Commandments—Yitro
Yitro- Shemot 18:1-20:23 The First Three Commandments from the Ten Commandments-Shemot 20:1-11
A) Blessing and Curse—Yitro
Yitro— Shemot 18:1-20:23 Blessing and Curse for Obedience or Disobedience—Shemot 19:5-6.
Central is Your mercy. Central is Your glory. Central is Your desire for repentance which means reconnection. As Adam approached the forbidden, and Nadav and Avihu broke through boundaries meant for protection, as the people at Sinai fashioned out misdirection… Yom Kippur, You choose to cover with Your Hand (upon which is engraved the walls of the Holy City) ALL our sins. Inadvertent, tamay, and even rebellious. Blessed are You Lord our God King of the universe, Whose Promises are irrevocable.
This structure is absolutely fascinating. At its start and finish we are taught about light versus darkness, life lived well and the blessings which come from being in covenant, in keeping God’s commands and the curses which are manifest in life when we live apart from the strong tower Who is I Am. We are introduced to and ‘left’ with the Sh’mittah. A Sabbath for the land, but also its workers (animals, bondsmen, farmers). An expression of complete reliance and trust in Hashem. Skirting the center are the commandments regarding kedusha (kadosh-set apart), for the people, for the priests: How to be human and holy. Culminating at the chiasm’s center are the chapters regarding the standards for a nation set apart. At its heart we find Yom Kippur.
The day when ALL כֹּל the sins of Israel are atoned for.
Vayikra 16;30…on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute. 32 So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments, 33 and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all כֹּל their sins once every year.”
Romans 11; 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove godlessness from Jacob. 27 And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.”28 Regarding the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but regarding election, they are loved on account of the patriarchs. 29 For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who formerly disobeyed God have now received mercy through their disobedience, 31so they too have now disobeyed, in order that they too may now receive mercy through the mercy shown to you. 32 For God has consigned all men to disobedience, so that He may have mercy on them all.
#5608 (masc.n/v) saphar סָפַר- TO INSCRIBE, to count, to recount, to number, to speak or utter words.
In reading through the last parashiot of sefer Vayikra, one can easily note that it is heavy with references to the Yovel and Shemittah. How appropriate that the final two places (with very similar language) saphar סָפַר (count) is found in Vayikra have to do with the Omer offering and counting before Matan Torah AND the Yovel- Jubilee year.
- Vayirka 23:16 ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.
- Vayikra 25;28‘You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. 9 You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. 10 You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. 11 You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field.13 ‘On this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his own property. 14 If you make a sale, moreover, to your friend or buy from your friend’s hand, you shall not wrong one another. 15 Corresponding to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your friend; he is to sell to you according to the number of years of crops. 16 In proportion to the extent of the years you shall increase its price, and in proportion to the fewness of the years you shall diminish its price, for it is a number of crops he is selling to you. 17 So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God. 18 ‘You shall thus observe My statutes and keep My judgments, so as to carry them out, that you may live securely in the land.
At matan Torah, there was a sounding of the shofar. In the Hebrew it says the “ha’Yovel” horn. Let us recall, the time of Moshe coming down har Sinai with the second set of tablets (the sign that God had kept covenant and still held it out to them). This time was at Yom Kippur. This was the chance for the people to return to Hashem after their sin. To realize the times of Hashem we mark them with the weekly Sabbath. In counting weeks and recognizing appointed times we are telling the truth about the Creator and declaring He is in control of our lives, by resting in Him. By putting in His hands all produce and reliance for provision in the Shemittah we declare, ‘Everything comes from Hashem’, it is the ultimate expression of trust. The Yovel is freedom for all. The Land, those with debts, those ‘enslaved’. All of these things are related and connected.
Yom Kippur – reset button
Shabbat- reset button
Shemittah/Yovel- reset button
Everything reverts back to the way it should be.
“To G-d belongs the land and its fullness, the earth and its inhabitants.” (Psalms 24:1). “The heavens, the heavens belong to G-d, but the earth He GAVE TO THE SONS OF ADAM. The dead will not praise G-d nor all who go down to desolation. But we will praise G-d from now and forever! Halleluyah!” (Psalms 115:16-17).
The life of Torah and mitzvos should be one of constantly striving to move forward from level to level in our fulfillment of the actual commandments. In every commandment that we carry out, there is a level of meaning that we can grasp within our minds, yet at the same time, the mitzvah has profoundly deeper meaning that is now beyond our grasp. These two levels are those of NA’ASEH (“we will do”) and VENISHMA (“we shall hear”) respectively. NA’ASEH applies to that which is within our grasp now, the physical mitzvah with its plain intention — WE WILL DO. We must go ahead and do it now on the simple level even if as yet we do not have deeper understanding, even if the level of VENISHMA, WE SHALL HEAR — understanding — is still beyond us. To GO in G-d’s statutes means to strive constantly to turn that which is as yet beyond us — our VENISHMA — and make it into our NA’ASEH, something that we CAN meaningfully accomplish. This is brought about when we pray to G-d to help us in our practice and to give us deeper understanding. Deeper understanding also depends upon deeper study. When we thus turn what was our VENISHMA into a new level of NA’ASEH — because we now incorporate our newly attained, deeper insight into our practice — we thereby discover that a new level of VENISHMA opens up ahead of us. It is this higher level of VENISHMA that we must now strive to attain and turn into a new, higher level of NA’ASEH for ourselves. We must continue this way striving to go from level to level, constantly integrating new levels of understanding into our practice. Thus we constantly GO from level to level in our practice (Likutey Moharan Part I, Torah 22).
John 12; 44 Then Yeshua cried out, “Whoever believes in Me does not believe in Me alone, but in the One who sent Me. 45And whoever sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should remain in darkness. 47As for anyone who hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not receive My words: The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 I have not spoken on My own, but the Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it. 50 And I know that His command leads to eternal life. So I speak exactly what the Father has told Me to say.”
Matthew 19;16…Just then, a man came up to Yeshua and inquired, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to obtain eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask Me about what is good? Yeshua replied, “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
Yechezkiel 36; 27 I’ll place my spirit within you, empowering you to live according to my regulations and to keep my just decrees.
Vayikra 18; 4 ‘You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the LORD your God. 5 So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.
Devarim 32; 46…”Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this Torah. 47 “For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.”
פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֗וּ – P’ru ur’ovu “Be fruitful and multiply…” Have you ever noticed that this is man’s first blessing and at the same time his very first commandment. Every time there is a shift in the Torah, to the up keeping and torch passing of God’s covenant Knowledge, Name, and Mission (to be light, to be life, to be a source of blessing, to be His witness) there is reference to this commandment. I find it interesting that as we leave Vayikra we are reminded of this concept through the only appearance of parah found in the sefer.
#6509 (v) parah פָּרָה -to bear fruit, fruitful, bear young, to be born, to run,increase with offspring.
- Gen 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so .31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
- B’reshit 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth….7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”
- B’reshit 17:2 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.…6 “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.7 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to you descendants after you.
- B’reshit 35:11 God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.12 “The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your…. ….descendants after you.”13 Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him.14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.
- B’reshit 48:3 Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’
The two places fruitful is found in Shemot are when the children of Israel keep God’s commandment and it becomes a source of disdain to the Egyptians and ushers in their slavery. Pharaoh first strikes the commandment, which is life, by seeking the destruction of the firstborn. The only other place fruitful is found is when Hashem promises that despite every opposition of the nations, His people will enter His promise and when they are where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to do (His Torah) He will make them fruitful.
- Sh’mot 1:7 But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.
- Sh’mot 23:30 “I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.
There is only one place in Vayikra where fruitful is found, it is in direct promise that God will be God to the people when they grasp His Torah, take it to the Land & perform it with all their heart. And as is the case, in even the Hebrew definitions of words, there are two sides of a just scale. Blessing versus curse, justice and consequence.
– Vayikra 26:9 ‘So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you.
The only appearance in Devarim of fruitful is a warning that separating from His Torah, refraining from following that which will make them conspicuous as designed (light in the darkness), will leave them susceptible to the snares of the idolatry which provoked the land to vomit out its inhabitants. Departing from the commandments will in effect bring curses into their lives rather than blessings.
– Devarim 29:14 “Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today 16 (for you know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed; 17 moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold, which they had with them);18 so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.19 “It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.’ 20 “The LORD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 “Then the LORD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the Torah.
A man and his sons were on a journey homeward. Along the way they sat under a mountain to rest. There they discovered stones of great value. The father, aware of their incredible worth, told his sons to help him carry these treasures with them on their journey. At once one of the father’s sons immediately picked up all the stones he could carry, he did so because he respected his father and knew there was a good reason for this request; although he was unaware of their importance. Another son grudgingly gathered the stones and internally grumbled, ignorant of the benefit of the stones; yet he did as his father instructed because he didn’t want to look badly. A third son immediately complained, “The journey is long, I am already weary, it will take great effort to carry these stones with us on our way, I do not see the purpose in this undertaking.”
To all three sons the father explained. We must continue now, there is little time to make it to our destination. I can not explain to you at length my reasons for asking this of you. I can not, right now, describe for you the worth, value, prize, and richness these stones will provide our lives with. When we arrive, I will expound everything for each one of you and you will come to appreciate the work you have undertaken at this moment. You will understand it and appreciate it in many ways. Our lives will become changed, new and abundant; only, do what I ask now. Because I have asked you, because you trust me,
because you love me.
- And we all come to a point when the true value of what we have grasped at becomes clear. Sometimes mitzvot do not make complete sense to us, sometimes (most oft because this is something we’ve been taught to think) Torah can seem ‘heavy’. Yet, taking it with us on our journey is so very worthwhile. Even if we can only truly perceive its value when the Father expounds it at the destination, what a loss it would be if (for the sake of convenience, or some requirement we placed upon its appraisal prior to taking it up) we would leave it behind.
Vayikra 26;3 If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them…
The first verse of Parasha Bechukotai:
אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָֽם
If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them… (Vayikra 26;3)
Em (eem) – if…. can be taught as a plea, Hashem asks….”if you would please”, ” if only” you would…Not a bargain- a plea. IF ONLY…you will live in this, then I Am ‘free’ to bless you entirely.
Bechukotai-in my statutes…. from חֻקָּה -Chukah – that which is established or defined; law, practice, custom; RIGHT; PRIVILEGE. Related to חֹק- Chok- an ordinance, decree; a defined limit, bound; that which is established- definite; an appointed portion!
From the root- חָקַק- Chakak – to carve out, to ENGRAVE, determine, appoint, ordain, decree.
Teleku -to walk in…. יָלַךְ – yalak – to go, to walk. Similar to Halak- הָלַךְ- to walk, to live, to follow, to flow (as water) to be poured out.
וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָֽם Va’aisitem otam – to DO THEM…. עָשָׂה -asah- to produce, to create, to prepare, to MAKE READY, to OFFER, to do, to effect, to execute, to complete.
Magnificent. Astounding. THIS is one of innumerable examples of why the Torah of Hashem is, as David Ha Melech (King David) proclaimed: “perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” [Psalm 19]
From one single Torah verse we can obtain the heart of what seems to be a plea from Hashem to His people. If only His sons would walk, to the point of being poured out completely in following His appointed portion for them. These rights and privileges are the offering back to Him, our observance of His commandments. Making His Way ready by executing His righteous methods and examples. Carving them into ourselves, making His will our desire and delight. ‘Carve My Will into you- I don’t want you just to do, carve me into your doing.
#7522 Ratson (masc.n) רָצוֹן – delight; pleasure; favor; will; benefits; (wicked pleasure).
- Sh’mot 28:38 “It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take away the iniquity of the holy things which the sons of Israel consecrate, with regard to all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.
#7521 (v) ratsah רָצָה – recieve graciously; to delight in the association; to satisfy, pay off; to make well pleased; to recieve anyone’s favor.
- Vayikra 1:4 ‘He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.
- Devarim 33; 8 Of Levi he said, “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man, whom You proved at Massah, With whom You contended at the waters of Meribah; 9 Who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them’; and he did not acknowledge his brothers, Nor did he regard his own sons, for they observed Your word, and kept Your covenant.10 “They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, and Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, and whole burnt offerings on Your altar.11 “O LORD, bless his substance, and accept the work of his hands; Shatter the loins of those who rise up against him, and those who hate him, so that they will not rise again.”
To keep the commandments is guarding (shamar) them like treasure, doing God’s will must become real on a daily, consistent basis. Otherwise: doing– its a mere experience.
When God’s Torah becomes a part of your reality…not an experience, a reality.
This is what it means: above and beyond the letter of the law. Now it’s carved in.
I don’t want a sensation. I don’t want a passing thrill. I desire closeness, I desire to do Your Will. Your Spirit is not a wave I feel that physically makes me blush or chill. Your Spirit is what carves Your Torah on my heart and makes the Wisdom of Your Word Real.
Sefirah ha omer- counting the omer is here to teach us many things. In counting up, not down, like a Bride whose Chuppah is readied and the Appointment set we approach the mountain. The question each night should not be, did I count? But did I understand what the counting today taught my life? Did I make my life count today? Sefirat ha omer teaches us and ongoing lesson:
I have to be in a better place tomorrow.
It is taught that the Omer period relates to the believer our spiritual success for the coming year- in its weeks, the true essence of our faith is revealed and built upon.
sefirah- a counting
sefor – to count
sefer – a book
sappir- a sapphire
siypur- a story
l’seper- to tell
These weeks are telling the story of our own lives. We learn to make our days count to make them shine. Learning to be predisposed and receptive to repentance…
The essential cause of the exile was the violation of the Sabbath and the Sabbatical years.
When His people begin to assimilate into the cultures around them, losing saltiness, not functioning in their purpose. Here (in galut גָּלוּת exile) the things that are explicitly of value and import to Hashem become degraded and faithlessly through becoming like the world when His people surrender through conformity to the assaults of the convenient, “Politically correct” majority they flatten the destiny and puncture the wheels of their transportation…that which would drive them toward realizing the dream.
Yeshayahu 63;4 “For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption גְּאוּלַ֖י has come. 5“I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold סְמָכָֽתְנִי; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me.9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed גְאָלָ֑ם them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. 11Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them, 12Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, 13Who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble; 14As the cattle which go down into the valley, The Spirit of the LORD gave them rest.
….So You led Your people, to make for Yourself a glorious name.17Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage. 18Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while, our adversaries have trodden it down. 19 We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name.
What is exile? Separation from Hashem, departure from Torah, exile is that place when you feel lost, unremembered, unnoticed. Exile is when you’ve been removed from the ‘camp’, either due to your own sins, missteps, trespasses rebellions….or because we’ve been discarded by men. Remember what the time outside of the camp was meant to do, what purpose was exile meant to create and foster? A greater appreciation for the ‘family’ of God. The nation functioning as one under One, for One. Exile is meant to remind us what is truly important. While we have learned much of Vayikra in reference to the korbanot, in drawing near to Hashem…we are now left with an emphasis on the keeping of Hashem’s commandments. I believe there is great value to learning the intricacies of this book at the heart of the Torah and meditating on the laws of the Kohanim, still… what is the goal? The offerings were physical representations of what we were meant to be internalizing. The real question is…what is the point? Like the son carrying the treasure because His Father asked, we are learning obedience. When obedience falls out…the entire structure collapses. The offerings become unacceptable when they become rote performance. Sh’muel ha nasiy says a very powerful thing to Sha’ul ha melech toward the end of his reign. When Sh’aul used bringing offerings to Hashem as an excuse for breaking with His commandments. He was twisting and distorting the purposes at the heart of God’s commandments for his own glory, appeasement of people, his own exaltation.
1 Shmuel 15; 22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” 24Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. 25“Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28So Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. 29“Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”
Yeshua, you know that this week has been a challenge and test that I have not passed. Lying, cheating myself and my family, stealing time, becoming defeated by anger, raising my hand, raising my pride, betraying my friends, belittling my spouse, letting important needs slip between my fingers, complaining, grumbling, dissatisfaction, woe. Before I can even reason with it, You know it all. Before I can even evaluate, the end is in Your conception. I feel exilic, clothed in mourners garments, spent of Spirit, remote from truth…my inclination is to retreat into a darkness where no one can see me. But You knock on the door. You whisper Your love into my shame. You reach, and You beckon, and You call. You call to me with Your word, You surround me with Your spirit, You teach me to remember that You always went WITH Your people into exile. You remind me that observance and refinement and repentance and obedience is not a one time checklist…accomplished and then thrown away.
Make us stronger, for we require Your strength to continue when the enemy tells us: Hypocrite- what right have you to speak words of light? Imposter- you will never be good enough, or holy enough, or righteous enough…so why bother to try! Backslider- for all your study, devotion, and seizure of Torah…what have you gained and learned, You’re nothing- you’re nothing. But this is precisely the purpose of gazing into the perfect precise mark…the instruction of Hashem. Because this is His heart, we will be enabled to truly see our own hearts. This is why we are here. To dig deep. Digging deep is not easy and it is not always comfortable. But we are laboring for the six days, for the six weeks, before the rest, before the revelation, before the sounding of freedom eternal. Everything along our journey will become a stumbling block if we allow it. Every voice contrary to Your unchanging truths and glorious Torah and the ongoing work-will-and Kingdom of Messiah Yeshua will rage over our walk… let us not become like a driven leaf. Whirling into the expanses of the indefinite. Let us become like that one man, strong in Your Way…able to drive from himself 1,000 enemies through Your might.
A sated man loathes honey, but to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet. Mishlei 27; 7
By all rights, we should be under a curse, under the “curse of the Torah”. Because we have all transgressed, all sin, no one can stand and be called righteous. But because we have promise of blessing, we can understand that all the challenges that seem to be curses upon our lives are meant to make our days count, our lives lived purpose driven, the races we run…worth winning!
Tehillim 111; 1Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly. 2Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them. 3Splendid and majestic is His work, And His righteousness endures forever. 4He has made His wonders to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever. 6He has made known to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations. 7The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are sure. 8They are upheld forever and ever; They are performed in truth and uprightness. 9He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name. 10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.
Let us marvel at Your word. Remain astounded at Your mercy. Be ever watchful for truth, eager for justice, constantly breathing Your truth into our hearts. WHEN we fail please bring us back. When we have debts to pay please give us the means. Make our hearts of flesh, and sensitive to the sounding of the Freedom Yeshua accomplished for us. Let us hear freedom and remission of debts, let us walk as if we were redeemed people. Let us remember that galut-exile and geulah-redemption are only a breath apart, and by Your Ruach-breath we will be enabled to discern what is righteous, holy, and good. Make our doing worthwhile. Carve Your will into our determination. Let our offerings be according to Your desires. Above all, teach us about the treasures we carry… and let us not take Your value for granted.
Chazak! Chazak! v’nitchazek- Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!
Resources: see homepage and click on My Resources for what I use to learn and share these lessons. Much of the content of this lesson was from Rabbi Ari Kahn http://rabbiarikahn.com/, Rabbi Shlomo Katz http://www.shlomokatz.com/, Bill Cloud billcloud.org and Rabbi Chaim Richman with the Temple Institute https://www.templeinstitute.org/.