Parashot Tazria-Metzorah 2021(When she conceives / Tzararat) Leviticus 12-13 and 14-15

This Shabbat reading is a double-parashah. These four chapters deal with the uncleanliness of birth secretions and of the skin diseases we call leprosy.

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I have absolutely no idea why God makes a woman unclean after giving birth to a girl twice as long as when giving birth to a boy, and despite the many jokes I already have popping into my head, I will demonstrate restraint and wisdom and not post even one of them.

The age-old argument for why God gave us these instructions is that they are for hygienic reasons or they are strictly Levitical (religious). There can be, of course, valid arguments for both sides.

Obviously, if someone has leprosy you do not want them in the general population for the safety of all. On the other hand, leprosy was also used as a punishment for religious disobedience, as in Numbers 12, when God struck Miriam with leprosy for speaking against Moses; as such, it may represent being spiritually cut off from the people as well as physically.

I consider these regulations as the type of instructions we call Chukim, which are commandments and laws for which we cannot understand why God gave them to us. Yes, it is easy to understand separating a person with a contagious disease, but why is a woman unclean after giving birth to a girl twice as long as for a boy? We can understand she is unclean from the secretions caused by the birth but, then again, why is someone ceremonially unclean just because they had a secretion?

I have stated often when we come across a commandment from God, one for which we have no idea why he gave it to us, that obedience doesn’t require understanding, only faith and trust. I have stated this more often than not, I think when we are going through the book of Leviticus because, well, this is where a lot of chukim appear.

But that is not what I feel is something we should review now. No, I think the message for today is simply that when we come across a commandment that deals with hygiene, it can also represent both a physical and spiritual condition. For example, witches are almost always portrayed as ugly because their spiritual essence is so evil that it affects their physical appearance, as well. Conversely, spiritually pure people are displayed as beautiful.

So what about Samantha Stevens? In the TV show “Bewitched”, she was a witch and she was absolutely gorgeous! Oh, wait a minute- she was a “good” witch, wasn’t she? (If there can be such a thing.) Of course, for decades TV and movies have been portraying evil as good in order to get us conditioned to thinking that evil is not just acceptable, but desirable. After all, Satan is called the Prince of the Air, and how is TV transmitted?

But, we’re getting off topic, so let’s get back to today’s parashot.

The lesson I believe these parashot can give us today is that one’s physical condition doesn’t necessarily indicate their spiritual condition. Many people with horrendous physical ailments or handicaps can be pure as new-fallen snow, spiritually, and there are beautiful people who are more like what Yeshua accused the Pharisees of being: white-washed sepulchers full of dead people’s bones.

So here it is, pure and simple: do not judge from the outside but try to see people as God does, from the inside. It is hard to overcome the social conditioning we all – everyone in the world- have undergone, which is that beauty is better than ugliness, but when we look at people’s fruit instead of their bodies, we will be able to judge properly what their spiritual condition is, despite their physical appearance.

And one last thing: please try to avoid discussions about why God said we must or must not do something. They may be interesting from a scholarly view, but when it comes down to what is important, knowing why God wants you to do something is not going to save you, but doing what God wants you to do is certainly not going to hurt you.

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

A Story of Undying Hatred

To overcome hatred we need to understand where it comes from.

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Many years ago, when I was working as IT Support for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, through a Jewish Community Center that was my account I was connected with (what we used to call) an Old Folks Home whose Chaplain was looking for someone to lead Friday Shabbat services. All the Rabbis she talked to were unavailable on Friday because they had their own congregations to tend to that night.

I met with the Chaplain and told her I was Messianic but never proselytize anyone and am happy to lead a totally “Jewish” service. I had put together a small Siddur (Jewish prayer book) and told her my plans for a simple, 30 minute or less service, and after she reviewed it she was OK with me leading the services. We had about 12-15 people show up each week, most of whom were Jewish but there were a few Gentiles, as well. The Chaplain made sure there was a loaf of Challah bread and grape juice for the Kiddush, which we did at the end.

This went on for about a year or so; she even asked me to put together a special High Holy Day service for those who couldn’t make it into the room where we did the Friday service, so I went to different parts of the building to do those services.

Everyone loved the service.

Then, one day, I was told to talk with the Chaplain and she said there was a woman who complained that I shouldn’t lead any Jewish service because I believed in Jesus and Jesus has nothing to do with anything Jewish. I thought she must be an Orthodox Jew, but lo and behold! She was raised Orthodox but many years earlier had converted to Quakerism! After talking with her and finding out she never even attended a service, we invited her to attend, which she did, and even after that, she insisted I be stopped.

I don’t what power she held over everyone else, but, unfortunately, the Chaplain told me that management wanted to stop for a while until things settled down.

Nothing ever settled down and because of this one, hateful woman, as well as (I believe) the cowardice of management and the Chaplain (who I liked and respected), the services stopped. And what is even worse, or just harder to believe, is that someone who completely rejected Judaism and converted to a Christian religion, decades later is still harboring the hatred Jews have for Jesus.

And where does that hatred come from? Well, maybe from the Crusades, where in the name of Jesus thousands upon thousands of Jews were slaughtered if they didn’t convert? Or maybe later, from the Inquisition, where thousands were tortured and killed if they didn’t convert, as well as every Jew in Spain being expelled from the country?

Or maybe from the Holocaust? You may be thinking that the Nazi’s had nothing to do with Christianity, which is true, but consider these two things: to a Jew, anyone not Jewish is a Gentile, ie., same as a Christian, and the belt buckle of the Nazi uniform had engraved on it these words: Gott mit uns (God is with us.)

Not only this, but the general attitude Christianity has had for Jews since the 2nd Century is that we killed God, we rejected the Messiah (their Messiah is more like how it feels to a Jew), and there has been an ongoing anti-Semitic,” we’re better than you” attitude that Gentiles have had towards Jews for millennia, mostly caused by the misinterpretations of the letters from Paul, who warned Gentiles against feeling this way (Romans 11.)

So, nu? This all makes sense now, why Jews have such an animosity against Christians that a woman raised Jewish, who rejected Judaism and converted to Quakerism so must, herself, accept Jesus as the Messiah, STILL hates the idea that anything having anything to do with Jesus is anathema to anything Jewish.

Now that I have gone through this, let me say, unequivocally, that this hatred is wrong because even with all that has happened, the past should not restrict us but be the motivation to help us move forward.

The past of that woman was fueling her current hatred, which was tangible, and instead of helping others find spiritual growth, restricted their connection to God. I really think she had to have been demonically influenced, since what she did, in her own mind being totally justified and believing she was doing right, was in fact destroying the communion between God’s people with him.

There is animosity on both sides. Jews have been taught Christians want only to convert them to deny “our” God and worship a different God named Jesus Christ, and Christians have been taught that the Jews have “missed the boat” and were wrong to reject Jesus, so now God has rejected them; worse than that, many believe that now only the “Born Again” Christians are the true Chosen people (which is called Replacement Theology.) As such, Christianity has “looked down” on Judaism as a second-class religion, and Jews see Christianity as a “holier than thou” religion.

There are two things Jews and Christians have in common: one is their hatred for each other, and the other is that both say if you believe in Jesus you can’t be Jewish anymore.

This is what we have to overcome. It ain’t gonna be easy, and I believe it won’t happen until the Messiah returns, shows absolutely who he really is, and establishes his kingdom on Earth. That is when both Christians and Jews will know, absolutely, what God wants from us.

And if you ask me, it won’t be from the Talmud or from the Epistles, but from the Torah.

So the message today is simply this: forget what you have been told about Jews and Christians, read the Bible (the WHOLE Bible) and make your own decision.

The only thing that will ever defeat ignorance is knowledge, and if you let the past rule your future, you won’t have one.

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That’s it for today so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

You Can Still Screw Up.

I just finished reading Leviticus. When I was in Chapter 19, though, something caught my interest, and this is it (from the Complete Jewish Bible):

Leviticus 19:5-8When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to ADONAI, offer it in a way that will make you accepted.  It is to be eaten the same day you offer it and the following day; but if any of it remains until the third day, it is to be burned up completely.  If any of it is eaten on the third day, it will have become a disgusting thing and will not be accepted; moreover, everyone who eats it will bear the consequences of profaning something holy meant for ADONAI -that person will be cut off from his people.

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The Peace Offering, also called the Thanksgiving Offering, is the only sacrifice where the one bringing the sacrifice also shares in eating of it. They are to eat it there, at the Sanctuary where it was offered.

The sin and guilt sacrifices are followed by the peace offering, which is the last offering made and brings us back into communion with God. The ultimate role of the Messiah is to bring us back into communion with God, and Yeshua’s sacrifice is both a sin sacrifice and a peace offering because it removes our sins and brings us back into communion with God.

So, when I was reading this I thought that it was interesting that if the peace offering, which has been offered correctly and accepted, is misused later (by not burning up whatever remains on the third day), then that offering is rejected! And not only that, but the one who offered it and was accepted, but now has violated the regulation, is not just having that acceptance removed but is being cut off from the people!

There can be a number of meanings to being cut off from your people, called karet, but the one that I believe makes the most sense is that it means to be deprived of the afterlife. Someone who has their name written in the Book of Life will have it scratched out if they commit a sin that has karet as its punishment.

This is a direct and absolutely conclusive denial of the ridiculous traditional Christian teaching of “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Despite what some religious leader once taught, which has been retaught over and over, here is God, the ruler and king of everything and everyone, saying that even if you do what is right and are accepted, if afterward, you do wrong and do not repent you will be rejected!

Maybe this is one of the reasons why Christianity has often taught that Yeshua did away with the law: not only does that wrongful teaching open the door to eating pork rinds while watching the game, but it allows one to sin after accepting Yeshua as your Messiah and not have to repent of it.

OSAS is nothing more than a pathway to eternal destruction, and this passage in Leviticus proves that!

We may do what is right in God’s eyes, but later we can still screw it up by sinning without concern for our spiritual health. It is more than believing that we will always be forgiven without even asking: it is the idea that because we have been saved that we can never lose that salvation.

Too often I hear people say that no one can take away what God has given, which, by itself, is a truism. However, we can throw away that which we received, and the fastest way to throw off our salvation is to continue sinning without regard or regret or even asking for forgiveness.

It doesn’t matter what some religious leader says to you, or what your friends or family tell you, the Torah is very clear that, as far as God is concerned, no matter how righteous you may have been at one time, if you turn from that righteousness and sin, your last actions are what you will be judged on.

To put it in accounting terms, our salvation is not FIFO, but LIFO.

FIFO means First In, First Out and LIFO means Last In, First Out. These are terms used to value inventory when calculating the Cost of Goods Sold. FIFO uses the cost of the inventory based on the oldest items and LIFO from the cost of producing the newest items; depending on how much it cost to produce the item, at that time, your profit margin will change.

The fact that what we did last is what we will be judged on is confirmed in Ezekiel 18, where God tells us that the sinner is the one who will suffer, not the children; but, more than that, it also says that one who was righteous but sins will die for their sins, but the sinner who turns from his sins will live.

So, if your peace offering (your acceptance of Yeshua as your Messiah) has been accepted and even if you received the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), but you continue to sin you WILL be cut off from your people. To be saved doesn’t mean that you can’t be punished, and your salvation will be removed if you sin without repentance or asking for forgiveness; not that God will take it away, but that by your actions you will have thrown it away.

So remember that Yeshua did not change or do away with the Torah, but confirmed it by teaching us the Remes, the spiritual meaning of the commandments (this is clearly seen when you read Matthew 5), and by the way in which he lived his life.

None of us can be sinless, but we can always sin less, and that is my personal goal: not to be perfect, but to be better than I was. And the way to do that is to follow the instructions in the manual, which we call the Torah.

Salvation is a rope that God has lowered from the heavens for us to grab hold of and climb up. It is a difficult climb, and each sin we commit is like placing grease on the rope, making it harder to hold on. And each time we ask for forgiveness, it cleans off the grease.

So hold on tight, keep climbing and try not to grease the rope too much.

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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Shimini 2021 (Eighth) Leviticus 9 – 11

This parashah begins with the continuing sanctification of Aaron as Cohen HaGadol, the High Priest, and his sons, Nadab and Abihu, as the cohanim to assist him. But the sons offered unauthorized fire before the Sanctuary, and as such their punishment was to be killed by fire coming from the Sanctuary. Moses tells Aaron not to grieve for his sons as he is still being sanctified, but that the people will grieve for him.

The last chapter of this parashah is the chapter outlining the Laws of Kashrut, the Kosher Laws.

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At the risk of repeating myself, I am going to talk about a theme I bring up often, but probably can’t bring up too often. And that theme is this:

Obedience doesn’t require understanding, and in fact, wanting to understand is a form of faithlessness.

There is no end to the number of reasons people come up with why God has determined some animals are clean to eat and others aren’t. From the risk of catching a disease, such as trichinosis from pork, to the fact that some animals are scavengers which eat carrion.

Let’s digress for a moment to review the three types of laws: Mitzvot, Mishpatim, and Chukim.

A mitzvah is a commandment of religious duty; mishpatim are rules that govern inter-personal relationships, and Chukim are those laws for which we have no logical explanation.

For example, it is a mitzvah that we must celebrate the Shabbat, and it is a mishpatim that we love our neighbor as ourselves. However, the requirement for the showbread in the Sanctuary, and it being replaced once a week, well…who knows why God wants us to do that? That is a Chukim law.

Back to the parashah: for me, the Kosher Laws fall under Chukim. Yes, of course, they are all commandments, but why do some animals get specified as unclean and others not? No carnivores are clean, only herbivores, and of all the herbivores, only those that are ruminants with a split hoof are clean. Why just them?

And fish must have scales and fins, otherwise, they are unclean. What is the deal with that?

I don’t know why God wants things this way, but I do know that it doesn’t matter why- he is God, I am not, so what he says, goes. And you want to know something else? I don’t even care why God decided what is clean and what isn’t! It’s not important that I understand God’s reasoning because, frankly, if I could understand everything that God says and does, then he isn’t worthy of my worship.

So today’s message is short and sweet: we don’t need to understand why God says and does what he says and does; actually, we shouldn’t even try to! God is so far above us, and so much wiser than we could ever be, that faith demands we trust whatever he says we should or shouldn’t do as being for our benefit. Understanding why is not necessary.

Just obey, as best as you can, and reap the blessings that God promises for obedience (Deuteronomy 28). The covenants God made with us are not based on him doing what he said he would, but first and foremost on us doing as he said we should. Then, after we obey, he will fulfill his side and bless us.

I don’t know about you, but as for me, I am more than happy to obey God’s instructions as best as I can, totally and blissfully ignorant of the reasons why he gave them.

In my opinion, the need to understand why God gave his commandments shows a lack of trust and might even lead to faithlessness and what might be worse… apostasy.

Didn’t Yeshua say only those who come to God as a trusting child will be saved? So what would you prefer: knowledge in hell or ignorance in heaven?

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

Does It Really Matter?

Does it really matter?

You’re probably asking yourself, “Does WHAT really matter?”

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And I guess that’s the best way to start answering the question because until we know what matters, we can’t say what does or doesn’t matter, can we?

So let’s start with this: what really matters? Of course, what is important to one may be unimportant to another, so we have to deal with somewhat universal topics.

May I offer what I consider to be the most important topic there is: salvation. I doubt that to anyone who believes in God there can’t be anything more important than where they will spend eternity, which is either in God’s presence or out of it.

That being said, we can now say that what does matter is whatever affects our salvation, right? I have often said that the Acid Test question I use for any discussion is: “How does this affect my salvation?

The only thing left for us now is to determine what affects our salvation.

How about the proper pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, the four-lettered name of God? I see so many people talking about this, and I have seen no less than 5 different ways people pronounce this name, except for us Jews, who never even try to pronounce it. If I am using the wrong pronunciation, will that prevent me from being in the presence of the Lord forever? Do any of you out there think that God is so petty and so prideful that if we mispronounce a name that no one has really used for millennia, that God will condemn you to hell? Even though the name you are using is the one you have always known to be the one and only, true God? Does God not know who he is, or who you mean?

I don’t think so. I think that whichever name you use to represent the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is acceptable to him when you pray from your heart. After all, we are saved by faith, not pronunciation, right?

If you agree, the next time someone argues about what the correct name for God is, remind yourself that this doesn’t really matter, and I recommend you don’t even get involved.

The more we try to convince someone else of what we believe, the more our own pridefulness takes over. And before we recognize what is happening, we are no longer trying to edify them or to honor God; now, all that matters is to hear them admit we are right and they are wrong. What do you think God would say about that?

What about the idea of the Trinity? (Boy, talk about your hot potato, right?) How many “passionate” discussions have you been part of or seen regarding this topic? But when we discuss the “what if”, we can determine if this really matters.

Here’s what I mean: what if God is singular and Yeshua is a totally separate entity? If Yeshua is not God, himself, isn’t he still the Messiah? Doesn’t his sacrificial death and resurrection still provide the means for us to be forgiven of our sins?

And what if Yeshua is God? Does that change anything he did as Yeshua the Messiah? Ultimately, does Yeshua’s divinity, or lack of divinity, change the status of his Messiahship? (Is that a word?) Does our salvation depend on whether or not Yeshua is God or just a divinely-created person?

I don’t think so, do you? I mean, salvation comes from his actions as the Messiah, right? What he used to be before he was Yeshua has no bearing on our salvation, so whether or not he is or isn’t God doesn’t really matter.

How am I doing so far? Is this starting to make sense? Are you beginning to see how ridiculous so many of the arguments (which often become nasty) you have seen regarding these topics really are?

And we could use the same line of reasoning for the proper calendar and for which holidays are important and which are just plain wrong.

Let’s look at the holidays: another hot potato is Easter and Christmas. No one argues that these dates were once used for pagan celebrations and that Constantine rebranded the pagan holidays to be Christian holidays, no longer celebrating pagan gods and goddesses but celebrating the birth and, respectively, the resurrection of the Messiah. The never-ending argument is whether or not celebrating these holidays honors or dishonors God.

So, without trying to convince anyone one way or the other, the real question is: will God condemn us to hell for celebrating what we consider to be the birth of the Messiah, or because we celebrate his resurrection? Do you think God cannot determine that in our hearts and minds whether or not we are worshiping Asherah or giving thanks for Messiah’s sacrifice?

I think he can tell the difference, don’t you? If you celebrate Messiah’s birth and resurrection, despite the dates you do it on, will that change the status of your salvation?

I don’t think so, do you? So, it doesn’t really matter.

When we talk about anything regarding God and the Bible, we need to determine, using spiritual maturity and discretion, if whatever conclusion to the discussion we are having really matters. It’s fine to have an exchange of ideas and interpretations, but when the discussion turns south and devolves into an argument of who’s right and who’s wrong, is it a topic that really matters?

If you say there is no God, that is a topic that really matters.

If you argue that Yeshua is not the Messiah, that is a topic that really matters.

If you say Grace trumps obedience, that really matters. No, really- it does!

But, if you say I began my Passover Seder a day too early or that Hanukkah isn’t in the Bible and shouldn’t be celebrated, does that really matter?

Can you see what I mean?

Next time you are witnessing or participating in a spiritual discussion, please turn down the need to show someone what you believe to be the correct thing, and ask yourself if it really matters? I mean, on an eternal basis, does it really matter? Will the results of this discussion be the difference between spending eternity in hell or in God’s presence?

For me, this is all that really matters: where will I spend eternity? If the results of a discussion will not change that, then it doesn’t really matter.

Thank you for being here, and as far as I am concerned, your subscribing to this ministry, here and on my YouTube channel, does matter to me. And remember, I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!