Torah Portion: B’Har(On Mount) B’chukkotai (By My Regulations) (Lev.) Vayikra 25-27
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 32:6-27 and Jeremiah 16:19-17:14
This week we finish the book of Vayikra or Leviticus. The last two portions of this book contain many commandments that have in some ways a common thread. Beginning with the Shemita/Sabbatical year and continuing through the blessings and curses we see the issue of faith being at the forefront. Whether it is not planting crops for the year of Shemita or holding on during the horrible happening of the curses, one thing is evident, faith is what will get us through, not dogma, not institutions or any other thing but faith in the Father. That is our only hope. My question this week had to do with our definition of faith. I got some good answers to which I would like to add my own thoughts.
Sometimes the world looks at people of faith as people who cannot think for themselves. In fact, in Proverbs 14:15 we read words that may describe some people, “Fools believe everything they hear.” However Solomon finishes his verse with these words, “but wise people think carefully about his steps.”
There are times when we get caught up in words that tickle our ears or reinforce our bias without thinking the subject through such as, “if I pray hard enough nothing bad will happen to me.” Or “if I only believe G-d will shower me with riches.” We integrate these foolish words or thoughts into our lives and begin to apply them to our life, relationships or social life. They can become part of our faith. However, when challenged our ability to stand on our unbiblical or foolish words may fail us, especially when it involves our financial lives, like the Shemita, or even our own life.
The word for faith in Hebrew is emunah. Interestingly, the word for artist comes from the same Hebrew root. What do these two things have in common? Faith has to be practiced. It has to become part of who we are. G-d’s word, not someone else with a popular idea, must be the foundation of our faith. Our faith has to be based on our knowledge and understanding of who G-d is, how He acts, and what He expects from us. These principles have to become part of who we are. Our faith should become an inseparable part of who we are, something that can’t be shaken. It is something that will endure during famine, pestilence or even death. So as an artist practices, practices, practices until his art is a part of who he is so must our faith be. Our faith should grow stronger and stronger as we accustom ourselves to see all of life as a manifestation of the Creator’s presence and glory. Faith is enriched by being tested and standing through those tests, it is enriched by making sacrifices in life for the sake of our faith.
The verse in Vayikra 26:3 gives us the formula for growing in our faith. We are to study and pray, to learn about the Father, and then we do, we live.