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Commentary - Leap Year Sabbath +3

Numbers 19:1-22   -   Ezekiel 36:16-38   -   Psalm 109   -   1 John 1:1-10

 

 

II Adar 22, 5765 / April 2, 2005

II Adar 22, 5768 / Mar 29, 2008

II Adar 20, 5771 / Mar 26, 2011

I  Adar 22, 5774 / Feb 22, 2014

I  Adar 18, 5776 / Feb 27, 2016

 

Parah / Heifer (Cow)   SCRIPTURES should be read first

from Huqqat / Statute (Numbers 19)

 

A note of interest from an Orthodox Rabbinic viewpoint (Qoute without comment):

 

The key thing to remember, in all this mythological murk, is that no religious Jew is allowed to set foot on the Temple Mount, for fear of desecrating the sacred ground. In any case, the Temple can only be reconstructed when the Messiah returns to save his people, and, so far, no Messiah, and no Third Temple. But not all Israelis are willing to assume such a passive stance, tradition or no tradition. Ever since Israel came into possession of old Jerusalem, in 1967, a fanatical group of Israeli nationalists have tried to kick-start the eschatological machinery, plotting the destruction of the Muslim shrines and busily constructing the various ritual objects for use in the rebuilt Temple. These Israeli nutballs have forged a natural alliance with our Christian nutballs, who have their own theological rationale for hurrying Apocalypse along. They are dispensationalists, who believe - among other things - that the colonization of the Holy Land by the children of Israel signals the second coming of Christ: the efforts of these "Christian Zionists" account for the uncritical support for Israel among many "born again" Christian conservatives.

 

Okay, so now we get to the part about the red heifer: it turns out that, although no religious Jew is allowed on the Temple Mount, there's a loophole - it's okay if he or she is first purified in the ashes of a pure red heifer. These creatures are exceedingly rare. One was born a couple of years ago, in Israel, but it soon began sprouting white hairs on its tail and was deemed insufficiently pure by the rabbinical authorities. Ah, but science found a way around the fickleness of God's creation, and through the modern miracle of genetic engineering - and funding provided by "Christian Zionists" in America - a red heifer has been bred, and pronounced pure.”

– Historical Review Press – Jewish Studies.

 

We have studied Judgments (Mishpatim), Ordinances (Edot), and Statutes (Hukim), the three categories of Torah commandments. Statutes are the category of which it is said, their reason is not obvious, but they bond God and man. The Statute of the Red Heifer is considered, by the sages, to be beyond human reasoning, as Solomon said, “I said I would be wise, but it is far from me”.

 

The Midrash on this portion notes a paradox: one who has become defiled (a niddah) is purified by the ashes of the red heifer, but one preparing the ashes becomes defiled thereby. It further notes Job 14:4, “Who can draw a pure thing out of an impure one? Is it not the One God?

 

This paradox pictures a greater one: a sinner is purified through the crucifixion of Yeshua, but one involved with preparing His crucifixion – such as Judas – becomes condemned as a sinner. So God draws a pure thing (a purified sinner) out of an impure (the crucifixion). Because it is far above our understanding, God gives us many kinds of pictures, called ordinances (such as baptism and the Passover).

 

It may be noted here, that preparation of the ashes is one of several acts required by Torah, which nevertheless makes one unclean. Thus we see that becoming defiled does not indicate one has sinned, but defilement always relates to a result of the fall – such as death, disease, or unfulfilled reproductive cycles.

 

Yeshua did not die because of a sin He committed, but because of results of the fall of Adam. “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all shall be made alive” - 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.

 

Numbers 19 (v.16-19), “Anyone who . . .  touches . . . a grave, shall be unclean for seven days. . . . on the seventh day he shall purify him from uncleanness, and he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and shall be clean by evening.” ‘Washing one’s clothes and bathing in water’ is a reference to immersion in a mikvah – Biblical baptism. Being “clean by evening” means on the eighth day.

 

Now, Yeshua was baptized, even though John the baptizer questioned why Yeshua should have such a need: “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” – Matthew 3:14. So then, in order to fulfill all Torah (Matthew 3:15, 5:17), should He not be baptized seven days after leaving the grave? While we are not specifically told that He was ‘untouchable’ until a seventh day baptism, Mary was told to stop touching Him on the first day (John 20:17), but Thomas was told to touch Him on the eighth day (John 20:27). Why is a special point being made of this eighth day? Also, ascending from the mikvah represents ascending to Eden / Paradise: this is especially represented be being baptized in the Jordan River – Jordan meaning “Descender from Eden”. So, in instructing Mary to stop touching Him, Yeshua said (v.17), “for I have not yet ascended to the Father”.

Paul (1 Corinthians 15:29) speaks of being “baptized for the dead” – according to some English translations. A better rendering would be “baptized because of death”. This may to refer to today’s subject, the baptism on the seventh day after dealing with a dead body. Paul is speaking of resurrection, and its relationship to baptism. Since baptism – specifically coming up from the mikvah – symbolizes resurrection (Romans 6:4), if a dead body could not be resurrected, what would be the significance of the ritual: why would we picture “newness of life” after dealing with the results of the fall?

 

Furthermore, being clean on the eighth day symbolizes our being holy – fit for the “eighth day assembly” (Leviticus 23:36) of the saints in Paradise. That requires our cleansing from sin here, prior to resurrection.

Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. Therefore, Yeshua said to them (Matthew 22:29-32), “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Therefore, we are to purify ourselves, showing that we are alive to God in holiness, and dead to sin.

 

A certain man wanted to take care of things of this life before following Yeshua (Matthew 8:21-22): that is the meaning of his Hebraism, “Let me first go and bury my dead father.” Yeshua responded, “Let the dead bury the dead. You follow Me.” In other words, “Let the spiritually dead care for the things of this world.” We should care for following Yeshua – being holy.

Kuqat (Decree)

At this end of a Festival Year, as we are approaching the time for the Passover memorial, we are taught by the Apostle Paul that we should be clean in order to worship.

1 Corinthians 5:7-11 – “Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate (in worship) with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler -- not even to eat (the Passover) with such a one.

Numbers 19:20 – “But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of Yahweh”.

Ezekiel 36:16-17 & 21) “Then the word of Yahweh came to me saying, ‘Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds;  . . . but I had concern for My Holy Name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went.’

 

I John 1

 

If we think that we do not sin, we are deceived (v.8), and need to learn God’s Word (v.10). We need to confess our  sins (v.9) – and that means specifics, which means that we need to learn from God’s Word just what sin is. Then, as symbolized by the water of the ashes of the red heifer, Yeshua cleanses us from all sin. Purity is a requirement for entering God’s Holy Place.

 

Who shall ascend into the hill of Yahweh? or who shall stand in his Holy Place? He ths hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully

– Psalm 24:3-4.

 

. . . and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life” – Revelation 21:27.

 

Yeshua is our Passover Lamb, that was slain for us to be cleansed (Revelation 13:8)!

Readings:

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

 

(Zot huqat haTorah asher tzavah Yahweh / This is the statute of the Torah that Yahweh commanded)

 

Reader 1*  Amen. 1 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2 "This is the statute of the law which Yahweh has commanded, saying, 'Speak to the sons of Israel that they bring you an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed. 3 'You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be brought outside the camp and be slaughtered in his presence.

Reader 2*  Amen. 4 'Next Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. 5 'Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight; its hide and its flesh and its blood, with its refuse, shall be burned. 6 'The priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet material and cast it into the midst of the burning heifer.

Reader 3*  Amen. 7 'The priest shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward come into the camp, but the priest shall be unclean until evening. 8 'The one who burns it shall also wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water, and shall be unclean until evening. 9 'Now a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the sons of Israel shall keep it as water to remove impurity; it is purification from sin. 10 'The one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening; and it shall be a perpetual statute to the sons of Israel and to the alien who sojourns among them.

Reader 4*  Amen. 11 'The one who touches the corpse of any person shall be unclean for seven days. 12 'That one shall purify himself from uncleanness with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and then he will be clean; but if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean. 13 'Anyone who touches a corpse, the body of a man who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of Yahweh; and that person shall be cut off from Israel. Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.

Reader 5*  Amen. 14 'This is the law when a man dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent and everyone who is in the tent shall be unclean for seven days. 15 'Every open vessel, which has no covering tied down on it, shall be unclean. 16 'Also, anyone who in the open field touches one who has been slain with a sword or who has died naturally, or a human bone or a grave, shall be unclean for seven days.

Reader 6*  Amen. 17 'Then for the unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the burnt purification from sin and flowing water shall be added to them in a vessel. 18 'A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent and on all the furnishings and on the persons who were there, and on the one who touched the bone or the one slain or the one dying naturally or the grave. 19 'Then the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify him from uncleanness, and he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and shall be clean by evening.

Reader 7*  Amen. 20 'But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of Yahweh; the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean. 21 'So it shall be a perpetual statute for them. And he who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening. 22 'Furthermore, anything that the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.'"

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

______________________

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."

 

Psalm 109

 

Ezekiel 36:16-38

Reader 8*  Amen. 16 Then the word of Yahweh came to me saying, 17 "Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. 18 "Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 "Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them.

Reader 9*  Amen. 20 "When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, 'These are the people of Yahweh; yet they have come out of His land.' 21 "But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. 22 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says Lord Yahweh, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. 23 "I will vindicate the holiness of My great Name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am Yahweh," declares Lord Yahweh, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. 24 "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

Reader 10*  Amen. 26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 "You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 "Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. 30 "I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.

Reader 11*  Amen. 31 "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 "I am not doing this for your sake," declares Lord Yahweh, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!" 33 'Thus says Lord Yahweh, "On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. 34 "The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. 35 "They will say, 'This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.' 36 "Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, Yahweh, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, Yahweh, have spoken and will do it." 37 'Thus says Lord Yahweh, "This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 "Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am Yahweh."'"

 

I John 1:1-10

Reader 12*  Amen. 1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life-- 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Yeshua the Messiah. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."


© 2005  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)