Chukat (Regulations) B’midbar(Numbers) 19:1-22:1
Torah Portion: Chukat (Regulations) B’midbar(Numbers) 19:1-22:1
Haftorah Reading Judges 11:1-33
This Torah portion is one of the more difficult portions to understand on several levels. The name, chukat, gives us a hint to its difficulty. The word, when used as it is here, can mean regulations. The root of the word means to engrave, as in stone or metal, something that is meant to endure. Chok, the singular form of the word always means something that, on the surface, seems to be illogical or impossible to grasp. In our portion we read where the people involved in preparing the ashes of the red heifer became unclean. However, when those ashes were applied to a person, who was unclean from being in contact with a dead body, that person became clean again. For an Israelite, being unclean by contact with death meant they were excluded from worshiping G-d in the Temple. That person could not come into the confines of the Temple until they were cleansed by the ashes of the red heifer.
Chol Hamoed Days of Passover
Chol Hamoed Intermediate Days of Passover
Tonight there is no Torah portion read. We are in the Chol HaMoed days of Passover, which means the intermediate days. Two biblical holidays have intermediate days. Passover is one. What is the other? The answer is Sukkot. Both of these holidays extend for a full week. So tonight we are in the Shabbath of the intermediate days of Passover.
A Spiritual Path to G-D – Korach Numbers 16
Torah Portion: Korach Numbers 16:1-18:32
HafTorah: I Sam 11:14 – 12:22
Let me start with a couple of verses from Genesis 1:6-13. In these verses we read about the second and third day of creation. What is missing in day two? G-d does not say it is good. Why? One reason might be that there was a division on the second day. However on day three what do we read? He said, “It was good” twice. Here the earth and water reconciled the division by bringing forth life. I think we can see this in Korach and even in the New Testament. When was Yeshua resurrected? It happened on the third day and that resurrection brought forth spiritual life that we are still experiencing and will continue to experience.
Vayakhel (And He Assembled)
Torah Portion: Vayakhel (And He Assembled) Exodus 35:1-38:20
HafTorah: I Kings 7:40-7:50
II Cor 9:6-11; I Cor 3:11-18
Tonight we look at the Torah section, “And He Assembled.” The root word in Hebrew Khal is the word usually translated as assembly. In the Hebrew Scriptures this word often refers to the people in the tabernacle or temple as the assembly. You have heard me often refer to the group here as the kehila which is the assembly. When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated to Greek, in the 2nd or 3rd century BCE, this word passed over into Greek as ekklesia. It appears throughout the Septuagint in place of khal. However, when this same Greek word appears in the New Testament it is almost always translated by the English word “church.” What does it matter? A recent letter to the editor in the Pensacola News Journal highlights this problem by stating, “The Old Testament is Jewish scriptures; those living under it are living under the law. Although it is our history, for Christians it has been replaced with the New Testament. Those living under the New Testament are living in the age of grace, which was ushered in by the resurrection of our Lord….” This gives the impression that the church is an exclusive New Testament term and draws a stark boundary between the two sections of the Bible. It is a way of disconnecting us from our Jewish roots as believers. Another even more striking example is the Hebrew word “eda” translated in Exodus 35:1 as congregation. When it came into the Septuagint it was translated with the Greek word “sunagogay”, it was usually linked to the place the “eda” met. However in places like James 2:2 the Greek again was translated into English as assembly. Paul uses the same word in I Cor. 11:16. The effect of such translation biases has been to hide any connection between Judaism, from which we sprung and Christianity. We as believers are the worse for it. We have to a large extent been deprived of the sweetness and spiritual food of the Hebrew Scriptures because of these sort of deceptions. And I for one count us most blessed that we have begun to restore some of what has been lost for almost 2000 years.