Parashot Behar/Bechukotai 2021 (On the Mountain/By my regulations)Leviticus 25 – 26:2/26:3 – 27

God gives the instructions regarding the Sabbatical year and the Year of Jubilee. He further gives the regulations regarding the redemption of one’s property, which includes slaves, when the Jubilee year arrives, as well as regulations for the proper way to price the property in relation to the expected value received between the time of sale and the Jubilee Year.

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The last parashah of Leviticus is also the end of this book. Leviticus has different sections which relate to the different aspects of one’s life: the rules for the Priesthood are the sacerdotal sections, then we have the ceremonial rules, followed by the ethical rules, and now we are in the final section, which is an admonition to the people to maintain proper worship, followed by the warning against disobedience. In this final chapter, God tells of the increasingly terrible curses that will fall on the people as they continue to disobey and reject God’s instructions.

Chazak! Chazak! V’nit Chazek!!
(Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!)

Leviticus is the central book of the Torah, and the instructions we are given in this book are the foundation upon which we build proper worship of God.

I wonder how many people really know what the term “worship of God” means? From my experience with people throughout my life, whether they are spiritual or secular, I think they see the worship of God to mean going to synagogue or church each week and trying to be a “good person”, whatever that means.

For Jews, it is a little more complex: you see, we believe all the laws, statutes, and commandments in the Torah are still binding, whereas so many Christians have been taught they are exempt because they believe in the son of God. I still don’t understand how someone can say they follow the son of God, who was 100% obedient to his father, and then in the same breath say they are exempt from obeying the father, which is something the son never did! I mean, if the son says he obeys his father, and you say you follow the son, then shouldn’t you also obey the father?

In my opinion, the proper way to worship God is to live in the manner he tells us we should. We should not reject his commandments regarding what foods are to be eaten, although we can reject the Talmudic rules of Halacha (Way to Walk) because those are man-made laws. I am not saying we have to reject the entire Talmud; actually, I say we should study the Talmud because there is much wisdom and understanding in there. There is also a lot of drek (Yiddish for “rubbish”) so we need to tread carefully, separating the wheat from the tares.

So, am I “under the law” because I believe the Torah is still valid and binding on anyone who says they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? No, I am not, and the reason I am not is that I know no one can obey the Torah perfectly, which is why we needed the Messiah. And I also know that salvation comes through faith, but having faith doesn’t mean we don’t have to try to be obedient to what God says we should do! God provided the Messiah explicitly because he knew we would fail to obey him perfectly, so to protect us from ourselves he sent Yeshua.

Yeshua was our ideal example, and when we accept him as our Messiah we should try to emulate Yeshua, just as God has always said we should emulate God: remember the statement God made often?

“Be thou holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

The justification Christianity gives for rejecting God’s commandments and regulations, which (like it or not) is exactly what you do when you don’t obey the Torah, comes from the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the letters Shaul (Paul) wrote to the different congregations he formed throughout the Middle East during his missionary work. And, for the record, they were never “churches”, they were Kehillot, which is the plural form of Kehillah, which is the Hebrew word for “congregation.” Did you know that the word synagogue is not from Hebrew? It is from Greek and means a place of assembly, which is also a definition of the word ecclesia. It is only in modern times that synagogue has become associated solely with Jews, and ecclesia is considered to be the Christian church.

There is no statement anywhere in the entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, where anyone says “Jews must obey Torah but Christians don’t have to” or anything in any way that states God allows anyone to reject any of his laws. However, there are plenty of places where God tells us that to obey him is to live but to reject him is to die. The New Covenant tells us faith is shown through works (James 2:14), and that even though Grace trumps sin, it is not a license to sin (Romans 6:15.)

The one absolute command that is found throughout all religions is to obey. In Judaism, the Orthodox more often than not go to the Talmud before they go to the Tanakh and in Christianity, they go to the Pope or the World Council of Churches, or whichever body their religion gets its rules from, but in all these cases they are going to human beings and not to God.

It is up to each of us to decide how we will worship God, and that depends on who will we obey: we can obey our religious leaders or we can obey God.

As for me and my house, we choose the Lord. Whom do you choose?

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!