Today we finish the book of Numbers or B’Midbar by reading two portions of scripture. In these readings we will see many things that still speak to us today. In Masa’ei we read about the setting of boundaries for each tribe. G-d laid out exactly where each tribe would settle and told them they were responsible to cleanse to the land of its former inhabitants. They were told to destroy the idols and high places of the former inhabitants.
Acharei Mot (After the death)Vayikra/Leviticus 16:1-18:30
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 22:1-19
I want us to talk about a very serious issue that is all around us. Even in our religious institutions we see things condoned that we would have never dreamed of a few years ago. In our Torah portion today we read of a remedy for the sin sweeping our world.
My question this week centered on two verses, one in our reading and one from the Messianic scriptures. Both of these verses lay out a path for G-d’s people to rise above the situations we encounter each day. We see how to resist becoming numb to the sins we encounter.
Tazria(She Conceives)Vayikra/Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Haftorah Reading: II Kings 4:42-5:19
This Torah portion may seem at first glance to have little to do with us or our world. However, as we go over it tonight I pray each of us will see the biblical truths within these verses, truths that will give us a far better understanding of how it speaks exactly to us today.
Torah Portion: Naso (Take) B’midbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
Haftorah Readings: Judges 13:2-25
Tonight we read and study the longest Torah portion of the year. It contains many subjects we could spend hours studying. However, tonight we will only look at two or three topics that I think will give all of us a deeper insight into spiritual principles that can help us in our life.
First, I want to start with Numbers 5:6-7. In these verses we read the process to be taken when we have sinned. In verse 7 we read, “Then they shall confess their sin which they have done.” Let’s talk about this for a moment. We are to speak out loud our confession to G-d. Why do we have to verbalize our words of remorse and confession of guilt before G-d? He knows our every thought and action. So why are we to speak it out loud? Maybe the point of speaking our confession out loud is for our own benefit. When we speak the words out loud they become more real to us, more intense. The sin is no long just in our memory but the words have been spoken. I believe when we speak the words out it cannot be easily swept under the rug. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. The sin becomes more real to us. It causes us to consider just how we could have done such a thing. Our actions are out in the light. We can look at our actions more clearly.
Torah Portion: Tetzaveh (You shall command) Exodus (Sh’mot) 27:20-30:10
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 43:10-27
Tonight, there are several things I want us to look at that I think are important for us today. The first thing is the coming holiday of Purim. Purim begins on Monday evening, March 9th, at sundown. The Torah portion we read tonight can be connected to this holiday and in fact is always read before Purim.
Torah Portion: Tetzaveh(Command) Exodus(Sh’mot) 27:20-30:10
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 43:10-27
Tonight, we read a Torah portion made up almost entirely with a description of the priestly garments and the process of setting apart Aaron and his sons for the priesthood. My question this week covers this process and what it means to be set apart. However, before we get to that there are several other topics I want us to look at and how they speak to our lives today.
In the very first verse we read of the pure beaten olive oil that was to be brought for the light in the Mishkan. I want to take just a moment to examine this and how it might apply in our own life. G-d specifically says the oil the people are to bring must be pure beaten olive oil. In some translations it is called crushed oil. Crushed is probably the better translation. Even today, to get the best extra virgin olive oil the olives are crushed just enough to get the first few drops – the purest of the crop. After that, the olives are beaten to get whatever oil remains. So, the first crushing produces the best and purest oil. From this what oil gives the best light? The purest oil gives the best light.
Torah Portion Re’eh (See) D’Varim (Deut.) 11:26-16:17
Haftorah Reading: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:11-55:5
Tonight we read the Torah portion Re’eh or “See.” The verse, D’Varim/Deut. 11:26, calls us to pay attention because what follows is very important. Based on our discussion last week on the verb Shema or hear, we can understand this verse in the same way. The verse is calling our attention to what follows, to truly comprehend the meaning of these words.
Torah Portion: Beha’alotcha(He Lifted Up) (Numbers) B’Midbar 8-12
Haftorah Reading: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
This Torah section begins with the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan/Tabernacle for the first time. In the first three verses we read where G-d tells Moshe to relate to Aaron the instructions on the process he was to follow. There are a couple of interesting things that stand out in these verses. In Numbers 8:2 we read in English, “When you light.” The actual Hebrew word means, “When you lift up.” Here we get an idea of what the real purpose of the candles was. The Menorah symbolizes among other things, the light of G-d, the way to the Father. So we could see these verses as saying, “Lift up the light of the Father that people can find their spiritual way, that we can find our way in this world.” Really, here the words have much more to say to us than just a physical act of lighting the candles, but of lighting our way by being lifted up. It might give us a deeper understanding of John 12:32 where we read the words of Yeshua being lifted up and drawing people to Him. The ultimate purpose of that lifting up is that we should be filled with a longing to satisfy our Father. We look for ways to please Him and our own desires pale in comparison. This gives us a deeper understanding of the verses in Numbers 9:6-12 which covers the request of the men who missed Pesach/Passover because they were unclean from being in contact with a dead body. They came to Moshe and asked why they could not have the opportunity to fulfill Passover. Moshe went to G-d and G-d issued an additional commandment that allowed these men to celebrate Passover in the second month since they missed the appointed time in the first month.
Torah Portion: Tetzaveh (You Are To Order)(Sh’mot) Exodus 27:20-30:10
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 43:10-27
In this Torah Portion we read about the clothing of the priest and their duties as priest. In fact, one entire chapter is set aside to describe the clothes of the High Priest that he was to wear for honor and glory. However, the portion begins with the last two verses of chapter 27 that speaks of the eternal light that was to burn continually before the veil in the Mishkan. The portion ends with a description of the altar of incense. Why do you think this division was used when the portion last week was devoted to the furnishing of the Mishkan? Why separate these two things out? It could be that scripture is saying here that the priests and their duties were to reflect these two vessels. Light symbolizing wisdom, and the Sprit of G-d and ending with the altar of incense, which might symbolize the priests prayers being lifted to G-d. This seems like a spiritual message to us as we continue to look at the clothing of the priests and the offerings. It should also speak to us as believers today as we go about each day to always be aware of who we are and what our life is to be.
Torah Portion: Nitzavin (Standing) & Vayelech Devarim (Deuteronomy) 29-31
HafTorah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Tonight we read a double portion of Torah, Nitzavim – or Stand, and Vayelech or When You Go. These are always read the two weeks before Yom Ha Truah, which in traditional Judaism begins the ten day period of repentance and soul searching leading up to Yom Kippur. It is fitting that they both speak of repentance and our need to allow the light of G-d to be turned on our lives, that we can grasp who we really are before Him as apposed to who we thing we are. I am sure we all can benefit from such a time. We have all experienced the feeling of being alone spiritually, as if G-d has abandoned us.