Va’era(I Appeared)Exodus/Sh’mot 6:2-9:35
Tonight we are studying a Torah portion that has so much to say about our life in this world. I want to start with the verse I asked each of you to look at and see where G-d takes us. Our verse in Exodus 8:18 says, “And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, to the end that you may know that I am the L-rd in the midst of the earth.”
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: Naso – Take B’midbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
HafTorah: Judges 13:2-25
This week we read the longest Torah portion of the year. It starts by finishing up the counting and setting apart of the tribe of Levi for service in the Mishkan and ends with the offerings of all the Princes of Israel. Between these two subjects we read of many other groups or individuals such as the Nazarite, the woman suspected of adultery and people who were unclean.
Torah Portion: Kedoshim Leviticus 19-20:27
HafTorah: Amos 9:7-15; Ezekiel 20:2-20
This week we read the Torah portion Kedoshim or Holy. In Lev. 19:2 we read where G-d is speaking to Moses telling him to relate to the people of Israel these words, “you shall be holy for I the L-rd your G-d am holy.” In I Peter 1:15-16 we read almost the exact same words written to the First Century believers. No doubt the author of I Peter had in mind these words from Leviticus that we are reading tonight. So then how would the people of Peter’s day put these words into action? I would think they would again look to Leviticus, in this Torah section, as a guide. When we read these verses a common thread holds them together. That thread for the most part has to do with how we relate to other people as we navigate the days of our lives. These verses speak to us about how to live each day as a holy person, a person who does not withdraw from the world but one who infuses each day with the holiness of G-d. They show us how to be set apart but not withdrawn from the world. When we deal with people we are to be honest, compassionate and loving, not react as others might but bring holiness into every part of our lives.
Torah Portion: Tetzaveh (You Shall Command) Shemot (Exodus) 27:20-30:10
HafTorah: Ezekiel 43:10-27
New Testament: Philippians 4:10-20
This Torah portion covers the clothing of Aaron and his sons as well as offerings to be offered for their consecration as priests. First, let’s look at Exodus 28:3 where we read G-d’s instructions on who to pick to make the priestly items. In my English translation it reads, “gifted artisans.” However, in Hebrew the words are, “wise of heart.” So the question comes to mind, what does wisdom have to do with the heart? I think the Torah is saying that if our wisdom does not affect our hearts it is meaningless. I think Romans 12:2 might help us as believers to come to an answer for this. Our minds, the repository of our wisdom, must play itself out in our heart and in our actions. We may know the scripture by heart and be able to debate a plethora of religious topics but if all that wisdom makes no impact on our lives and actions then we are like a donkey carrying around sacks of knowledge but it is still a donkey. Our minds have been renewed. That renewal must be evident in our lives as we go about our daily walk with the L-rd. I Cor. 13, the chapter on love, lays this out very well. Our renewed minds must make a difference.