We have now gone past the middle of Leviticus, the central book of the Torah, which means we are on the “downside” of the Torah, getting closer to the end than we are from the beginning. That doesn’t mean what is coming is less important, it just means that we can start to build up the joy of knowing that as we get closer to the end, we get closer to starting all over again at Simchat Torah in the fall.
As such, let’s take a moment and remind ourselves that Leviticus is all about being holy- how to know clean from unclean, the different types of sacrifices and how to perform them, the many duties and obligations of the Priests, and generally that being holy means being separated. Not better than, not worse than, just different from.
In Judaism we are told that Torah should be a mirror- when we look in it, we are to see ourselves reflected back. It is not so when the world looks at us: when the world looks at us, we are not to reflect the world back to them but they should see Torah. Yeshua said that when we see Him, we see the Father, and if we know Him we will know the Father, too. Yeshua is the living Torah, and the Torah is the Word of God which (really) tells us who God is.
To be holy, or as the prayers say, to be sanctified, we need to be separated from the world. Our family life, our relationships, our diet (yes, our diet!) and our speech…even how we treat our pets and property, personal hygiene, EVERYTHING we do should be done as God tells us we should do. You can’t be a light to the darkness when you don’t shine. Remember what Yeshua said about lamps?
When we read Leviticus, we see the Jewish people (which really should be all those who worship God) separated from the world and sanctified by these commandments….actually, not by the commandments but by following the commandments…and within the separated peoples, the Levites are separated to maintain the Sanctuary and teach the people, as well as judge for them. Then within the separated Levites, the Kohanim (Priests) are further separated to service the Lord, directly, by offering the sacrifices on behalf of the people.
This reminds me of those cute Russian dolls- you know, a doll inside a doll inside a doll inside a doll. The world is sinful, and the followers of God are separated, and within them the Levites, then the Kohanim. And even within the Kohanim there is only one Kohen HaGadol.
What this represents to me is that as we get further and further away from the world, we get closer and closer to God.
This parashah includes a very important chapter, Chapter 23. That is the place where God defines the festivals He commands us to celebrate unto Him. These are Holy Days, not holidays. I define holidays as created by religion, and Holy Days as commanded by God. Nothing wrong with holidays (well, some do have questionable origins) so long as they do not overtake or replace when God says we should worship Him, and they should never change what God says. And if the celebration to the Lord is not one that totally honors Him, then I would say don’t partake in it.
My book has an entire chapter devoted to this, so if you are interested in knowing what I think the important differences are, please buy the book (or the downloadable version) and see if you agree with me. There are links to different places you can get it in the right margin.
Being separated means, by it’s very nature, not being equal. The Supreme Court of the United States recognized that axiomatic truth in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education (of Topeka, Kansas) back in 1954. That decision was based on race, but it holds true for spirituality as well (not religion…spirituality. God has no religion: He is spirit.) We are to be separate, and thereby not equal. But that, as I said above, doesn’t mean better or worse, it just means different. Never “hold it over” someone else because you think you are more holy than they are. In truth, if you are more holy than someone else, you should follow Yeshua’s example and be a servant to that person.
Be separate, be an example, let everything you do and say bring honor to the Lord. Torah should be a mirror for the Believer, and the Believer should be a kind of one-way mirror to the world: we should see the world clearly as it is, but when the world looks at us all they should see is God looking back at them.