Sunday, May 1, 2011
Shaleeakh - Emor "Say"
The most notable aspect of Emor is its detailed explanations of the proper way to observe the Holy Days. One of the most detailed of these explanations describes how to properly observe the feast of Shavuot. Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, is set aside to honor the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. In the Brit Hadashah Shavuot is known to many Christians by its Greek title, which is Pentecost. When comparing the Shavuot references in the Torah with the references concerning Pentecost in the Brit Hadashah it becomes clear that the Torah and the Ruach HaKodesh were both received on Shavuot. Therefore, the receiving of the Ruach HaKodesh and the receiving of the Torah are accompanied by similar signs. Shemot 19:16 states "it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." The parallel passage to this appears in Acts 2:2-4 and states"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Both the giving of the Torah and the Ruach HaKodesh were accompanied by fire, noise, and HaShem speaking. HaShem gave similar signs to the people so that they would equate the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh with the giving of the Torah. As messianic believers we should observe Shavuot and remember the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh as well as the giving of the Torah.
Unfortunately, there has never been a totally unified agreement on how to determine what day to celebrate Shavuot. The disunity arises as a result of this passage in Emor which states "you shall count unto you from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete:"(Vayikra 23:15) Some communities interpret the Shabbat mentioned in this passage as the Shabbat that is on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. While other communities interpret the Shabbat in this passage to be the weekly Shabbat that occurs during the week of unleavened bread. As believers in Yeshua we must look at the life of Yeshua to calculate how our community should determine the day that Shavuot occurs. To accomplish this we must reconcile Yeshua's actions with the Torah. The best place to start is 1Corinthians15:20 which states "now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept" Form the passage we can see that Yeshua is literally the first-fruits of those that sleep. According to Rav Shaul Yeshua is our first-fruit because He was the first to be raised from the dead. Therefore, it is imperative that we link his resurrection to the first-fruit offering. This is very easy to do when we realize that Yeshua promised to give His generation the sign of Jonah. Mathew 12:40 states "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."In this passage Yeshua makes it clear that He is going to be in the ground exactly three days and three nights. For Yeshua to remain in the ground for exactly three days and three nights His resurrection would need to occur three days and three nights after He died. Therefore, if Yeshua died on Passover, as most believe, He could not be resurrected on the day after the first Shabbat of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He could only be resurrected at a time when He had fulfilled His promise of the sign of Jonah. Mathew 28:1 clarifies the exact timing of Yeshua's resurrection by stating "In the end of the Shabbat, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher" According to this passage, it was just starting to become the first day of the week. The biblical day begins the night before. Therefore, dawning toward the first day of the week indicates that it was just becoming the first day. In other words, it was after the seventh day and just beginning the first day.
When Mary Magdalene and company visited the tomb Yeshua had already risen. We can see this in Mathew 28:6 which states "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Yeshua was resurrected during the weekly Shabbat before it started to become the first day of the week. As a conformation we see that Yeshua's first duty after His resurrection was to present the wave offering to HaShem. In John 20:17 Yeshua states "Yeshua saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." It is clear that before anything else Yeshua was first required to ascend to the Father as the first-fruit offering. Therefore, to determine the day of Shavuot we must reconcile Yeshua's resurrection with Vayikra 23:16, which states, "Even unto the morrow after the seventh Shabbat shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. You shall bring out of your houses two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD." Since Yeshua is the first-fruit offering it is clear that this passage is talking about beginning the countdown to Shavuot on the day after the seventh day Shabbat. Therefore, the proper time to observe Shavuot is fifty days after Yeshua ascended as the first fruit-wave offering. This reconciles with the Brit Hadashah since the day of Pentecost occurred fifty days after the resurrection.
Even though Emor clearly describes how to observe the Holy Days, there has always been a debate on the proper timing of Shavuot. As messianic believers it is our responsibility to reconcile the Torah with the Brit Hadashah. Therefore, to determine when to keep the feast of Shavuot messianic believers need to look at the writings of Yeshua and the apostles. When we take this approach we can determine that Yeshua is the first-fruit of the resurrection. Since Yeshua is the first to come forth from the ground we must base our calculations of when to keep Shavuot on Yeshua's resurrection. Therefore, we must begin counting the days to Shavuot after the weekly Shabbat that occurs during the week of Unleavened Bread. By following this practice we can see that Pentecost and Shavuot are actually the same day. As a result, HaShem confirms that the giving of the written Torah and the Giving of the Ruach HaKodesh occurred on the same day.
By Rabbi Yaakov benYosef ABOUT-Torah.org