B’midbar(In the Desert)B’midbar/Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 1:10-2:20
Tonight there is so much to talk about. Shavuot begins tonight at sundown. It is one of the three pilgrimage holidays and comes 50 days after Passover. It is followed by Sukkot in the fall.
I would like to begin with a few words about what I consider one of the main lessons wrapped up in our Torah portion this week. How many times have you heard someone say something like, “but this is just how I am.” Maybe you have even said it yourself. There is good news for those of us who think along those lines. That statement is a false statement. We can change.
Torah Portion: Vayikra (And He Called) Vayikra/Leviticus 1:1-5:26
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Today we begin the third book of the Torah. It is sometimes called, “The Torah of the priests,” due to its many commandments concerning the duties of the priests in their service in the Mishkan or Tabernacle. Here we read much about the sacrifices brought to the Mishkan by the people of Israel. Interestingly when we think of this we often associate the bringing of sacrifices with some sin the person has committed. However, actually of the sacrifices brought, only one or two had to do with sins.
Torah Portion: Re’eh (See) D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-16:17
Haftorah Reading Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:11-55:5
Tonight, at sundown the Hebrew month of Elul begins. This starts a forty-day period of concentrated introspection and repentance that will end on Yom Kippur. Of course, repentance is something we should be involved in on a daily basis. However, this does remind us of the importance of not allowing unconfessed sins to fade from our minds but instead to deal with them quickly.
Torah Portion: Ekev (Heel) D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 7:12-11:25
Haftorah Reading Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 49:14-51:3
This afternoon our Torah section begins with the Hebrew word Ekev. It has many translations in English. It can mean, come to pass or because, it can also mean heel. It comes from the same root word as Isaac’s son Jacob. This comes from the fact he was holding on to the heel of Esau as they were being born. Tonight, I want us to major on the translation of heel for this word.
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: B’chukkotai(By My Statutes) (Leviticus) Vayikra 26-27
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14
In this Torah portion we are immediately struck by the blessings for obeying G-d’s Word, followed by the curses for not following His Word. We are presented with verses that seem to say there is a physical reward for obedience and physical punishment for disobedience. Is that the point of what we read? Maybe on some level it is true however, we all know godly people who do not seem to enjoy the blessings mentioned and on the other hand, ungodly people who seem to flourish. So how are we to solve this riddle?
Torah Portion: Balak (Numbers) 22:2-25:9
HafTorah: Micah 5:6-6:8
Tonight we study one of the most perplexing scriptures of the year. We read of a man Bilam, a seer who is hired to curse Israel. In the verses we read where he asks G-d about this job that has been offered to him, whether he is free to do this or not. In the course of a few verses we read where first G-d says don’t go, later He says go. Then when he does go G-d is very angry with him. What are we to make of this?
Torah Portion: Korach B’midbar (Numbers) 16:1-18:32
HafTorah: I Samuel 11:14-12:22
This Shabbat we read about one of the most serious rebellions against Moses and Aaron. In this rebellion we see three different groups come up against the leaders of Israel. If you remember this rebellion occurs following the incident of the spies. The people learned that their decision not to go up with G-d and enter the land resulted in everyone over 20 years old being judged by G-d with the fate of never seeing the Land of Promise. I am sure the people were demoralized and downcast, ripe for insurrection.
Torah Portion: B’Har (On Mount) B’chukkotai (By My Regulations) Leviticus 25-27
HafTorah: Jeremiah 32:6-27
Tonight we finish Vayikra (Leviticus) by looking at these last two Torah portions. In our first portion we read, “And the L-rd spoke to Moshe on Mt Sinai.” In these few words are conveyed a foundational difference between Hebrew and Greek thought. As Western people we have been shaped by Greek logic and thought. When we look at scripture, especially in the Torah, we often come across the underlying Hebrew logic and thought. How do we see this Hebrew thought process here in these first few words? Chronologically where are we in the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt? The Temple or Mishkan has been constructed, priests have been installed, and time has passed. Yet, here our opening words are B’Har or On Mount Sinai. Moshe was on the mountain back in Sh’mot (Exodus). So why here at the end of this third book of Torah do we read the words B’Har? I think from G-d’s perspective time is not the point. Chronological order is never the issue with G-d. To the Father time or its passage is somewhat irrelevant. What really matters is the point G-d is making. We almost exclusively think of order of time. A+B=C. Yet, to the Hebrew mind maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. What is important is that we grasp the spiritual idea G-d is getting across.