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.
Emor or Speak, found in Va’Ikrah(Lev.) 21-24.
In this Torah portion we read in chapter 23 the listing and explanation of G-d’s calendar for each year. In it we read of all the appointed times when G-d expects to meet His people. We read about the three appointed times when all males are required to appear before the L-rd in Jerusalem. These three appointed times are Passover, Shavuot(Pentecost) and Sukkoth(Tabernacles). In both Passover and Shavuot we can relate great miracles performed by G-d for the people. In Passover we see the redemption of the people by the splitting of the Reed Sea. In Shavuot we read of an entire nation seeing and hearing the words of G-d as He comes down on the mountain. Yet for Sukkoth we are hard pressed to identify a miracle that relates specifically to this appointed time.
Sukkot Reading: Levitcus 23:39-44, Exodus 33:12-34:26
As we go through this teaching think of someone in your life that would be a good example of a person that lives with joy in their life no matter their circumstances.
I want us to look more closely at Sukkot and the aspect of joy as well as New Testament references to the holiday. We have mentioned before the water drawing ceremony that took place each day during Sukkot. This is when the priests would go and bring water from Shiloach Springs and pour it over the altar as they prayed for the blessing of G-d in the form of abundant rain in the coming year. There is a striking New Testament reference to this water in John 7:37-38. See John 7:2 where the holiday is specifically mentioned. In 7:37 He makes reference to water and the spiritual truth that His water satisfies completely. He goes on to say that from us will also flow rivers of living water. How does this happen in our lives? G-d tabernacles with us, He becomes that Sukkah in which we dwell until we reach heaven. So how does water flow from us? It must flow daily as we live our lives here in this world. This happens I think, as we live a joyful life daily. Not just when everything is going well and we grow fat. But especially when things might not be going so well as the world measures well. How else can we read in James 1:2, “Count it all joy or pure joy whenever you fall into various trials.” How are we to do that?
Torah Portion: Chol Ha Mo’ed Sukkot Exodus 33:12-34:26
Today is the Shabbat that falls in the intermediate days of Sukkot. In this section of scripture two things tie it to the holiday of Sukkot. In Exodus 34:22 the holiday is mentioned in the list of appointed times. In Chapter 33 G-d appears to Moses. In I Kings during the dedication of Solomon’s temple, the presence of G-d appears in the temple. As a result the priests could not minister or even go into the temple.