Thursday, May 17, 2012
Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:1- 27:34
What is striking about this Torah portion is that HaShem tried to speak to the children of Israel and they were afraid, and from then on it was always through a mediator. This image sets the seen for a time to come that another mediator greater than Moshe was to come and also mediate but in a much larger scale and significant at that. Right through out the time before our messiah’s revelation to the world a common theme is apparent. Always there is the first messiah a mediator speaking to the children of Israel, as a shadow of The Messiah, Moses mediated between YHVH and Israel.
The Torah portion relates to the mountain and to the statues, what is interesting is that right from early times of the calling of the chosen people there is a similitude of mountain to kingdom. In this case we can look and draw a comparison of Mount Sinai to what was to come the kingdom of HaShem. He speaks to the children of Israel, His newly formed kingdom on earth made of chosen people to be a nation of priests to the nations. From the mountain HaShem speaks to His willing subjects, as it was expected of this new kingdom of priests, this priestly nation to speak to the nations i.e. from the mountain (Israel) to the nations. One thing is for sure that what is written in Torah is not just a mere recounting of events, nor is just a historical documentation, which it is, but is far beyond that. The Torah is more than a book more than history is a living entity that became flesh. Torah was pointing to Messiah, and that is how our forefathers attained salvation by grace on Messiah to come, it continues to point towards Messiah in the past some 2000 years ago and it is how we attain salvation through Messiah for what he did for us, a redemptive sacrifice.
So what is this Torah what is its purpose, how do we define Torah? It is not and has never been a book of laws it is not Law but instruction, a constitutional document, a covenant or Ketuvah asset of governmental laws as well a moral guide.
In our western mind the term Law invokes a set of rules that bind an individual and must be fearful of the establishment that enforces it. But is this what the Torah all about?, from the title of this Torah portion it seems so at face value, but if we look a little deeper we find that it is not the case. Yes there are statues and ordinances, but this are more than man made laws that we often fear, these are Holy guidances that empower the individual, to a holy, set apart lifestyle, full of self-control, honesty benevolence and generosity to our fellow man.
It is from this same Torah that the Sages of old, drew the Ethics of The Fathers. One just has to look at one of the teachings of the fathers and we see the Torah permeating through it, “The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and the deeds of kindness” HaShem instituted all these things not for the sake of a legalistic life, but rather as a way of protecting us, if we live in His word and follow His instructions as a loving and dutiful son/daughter we will find that it is not a legalistic lifestyle at all but rather a life of relationship with our heavenly Father.
The statutes in this Torah portion reveal the relationship between one another and to the relationship towards land possessions on this earth at a specific location on earth. It also relates to perpetual commandments established for our benefit, and also the land we live on or should live on. Not only are we to keep a Shabbat but also the land is to keep a Shabbat and we are to be the ones facilitating this. Above all things what struck me the most and I did not see this until not too long ago, we do not own land we are stewards of it, in our current mind set that we are victims of, we buy and sell as we will own material items for the eternity. We are conditioned to live and exchange and in a way with an arrogant attitude towards the land animals etc. We are mere stewards of these things that we are entrusted; we only get to use these things that HaShem allow us to interact with. This is evident from this Torah portion, where the land is an inheritance it belongs to HaShem, we only allowed benefiting from the potential of the land and nothing else so long as we work it and take care of it. We could say that is a symbiotic relationship, we trust and fellowship with HaShem and the land is good to us we turn our backs on Him and the land stops being our source of prosperity.
In our current time it seems arrogant of the nations trying to divide and redistribute the land of Israel with those outside the covenant, and amongst themselves, when in reality it does not belong to them nor to any other living being of this earth but it belongs to HaShem and to him whom He chooses to entrust, the land is only permitted to be fruitful to that person. We are to trade to potential of land but not the land as it always reverts back to the family line that HaShem has entrusted. In the spiritual realm the same applies, as those entrusted with revelation of Torah to teach are the ones that are given the right to share and exchange with others as guided by the Ruach. Everything that the Torah reveals has a spiritual and a physical application nothing is in a vacuum, except us in relation to HaShem if we choose to ignore His guidance His Torah.
This Torah portion is full of conditional promises, follow my statues and or commandments, and the land will be fruitful. If we are able to see that there is life in these words, we would live such fuller lives. The concept of Shabbat years and resting for a full year sound appealing but are we willing to step out and trust in HaShem’s promises, and are we willing to live as he teaches us. Another big commandment is to be generous and care for the destitute if he cannot support himself. This is a big issue in the Torah, even Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for not looking after the needy and destitute, although moral corruption was high, even higher was the abundance yet the lack of care for the needy and destitute, Ezekiel 16:49: Lo, this hath been the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, arrogance, fullness of bread, and quiet ease, Have been to her and to her daughters, And the hand of the afflicted and needy She hath not strengthened.
So we come to the other side of the coin, we often like to dwell on the promises of prosperity and abundance, however where there are promises of blessings there are also responsibilities, and here in the Torah the promises are conditional do Tov, good/functional or do rah, evil/not functional and for rah, the conditional absence of a blessing is punishment. These we know quite well, our forefathers failed to hid the warnings sent by HaShem and we still are paying the price we are dispersed through the diaspora, in foreign countries being aliens amongst the nations. Leviticus 26:39: Those of you who are left will pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them. But HaShem is so good that even with punishment there is also a promise, he will remember the covenant with our forefathers and He will return us to His land our inheritance, Baruch HaShem (Blessed be His Name) may it be so in our lifetime. The statutes and commandments, given in Mt Sinai, in them there is life, in them there is Messiah, in them is the age to come.