We continue with the census of the tribe of Levi, which is where we left off from the previous parashah.
Next, God gives the commandments regarding how to tell if a woman has been unfaithful when there is nothing to go on other than the suspicion of the husband, and laws regarding restitution of property, which (I believe) would be equivalent to a “Tort” in today’s penal system.
The last part of this parashah records the gifts that the leaders of the twelve tribes gave to the Sanctuary for the service, therein. Each tribe gave the exact same number and weight of the exact same items to show complete unity, in that no one tribe was over any of the other tribes. The Midrash accounts for the sum of all the gifts in this way:
the 12 chargers given correspond to the 12 constellations;
the 12 bowls to the 12 months;
the 12 spoons to the 12 guides to men (heart, kidneys, mouth, palate, windpipe, esophagus, lungs (2), liver, spleen, crop and stomach);
all the silver weighed 2,400 shekels, which corresponded to the number of years since the creation of the world to Moses’ 40th year,
all the gold of the spoons weighed 120 shekels, the length of Moses’ life.
The part of today’s Torah portion that I want to talk about is Number 6:23-27, which is known as the Aaronic Benediction (also called the Priestly Blessing.) This is the blessing that God specifically told Aaron and Moses to use when blessing His people. You are probably familiar with it, as I have heard it used not just in Jewish places of worship, but in Christian churches, as well:
The Lord bless thee and keep thee;
The Lord make His face to shine upon thee and be gracious to thee;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
The final part of God’s command regarding this blessing is that this is the way we shall put His name upon the people, and thereby God will bless them.
The simplicity of this prayer is what impresses me: God is telling us that all we need is His blessing, His countenance and His peace. His blessing will result in health, life and prosperity. In the bible light represents happiness, purity, and friendship, so to cause His face to shine upon us is saying that we would have His divine love and salvation. It can also represent, as the Rabbis have said, the spiritual gifts of knowledge and moral insight.
Peace, the final blessing, is considered a pillar of the world, and there cannot be any level of social order without it. We are not only to receive the peace of God, but we are to employ it and make peace with others. Most every synagogue ends their prayers with, “May He who makes peace in His high places, make peace upon us and upon all Israel.”
It is the the burden of the people of God to make peace in their hearts, and then extend that peace to others, in order to help them find the same peace we have. Peace starts internally, and that comes from being able to commune with God, which comes from the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit); this is the same spirit that Yeshua (Jesus) said He would send to His followers and which He called “The Comforter”, because that is what it does.
If anyone reading this has ever felt a sensation of complete rest, total peace of spirit, and a tingling feeling throughout your body that makes you cry for joy, then you know the peace of the Lord that His Ruach can bring. I have felt that, more than once, yet due to the hardness of my heart I haven’t felt it as much in the last couple of years. I know it is my fault, and I constantly pray for the Spirit to come upon me again. Sometimes it does, often it doesn’t, and (again) it is because I am not opening my heart. Still and all, every now and then, when I am in the proper condition of worship… BAM!! His presence is felt mightily. What a great feeling!
I want to see this wonderful, overwhelming peacefulness come on my wife, on my children, on friends and family and even acquaintances. I want this to come over my enemies (I don’t have any enemies, but suspect that some consider me their enemy) and everyone who doesn’t know the Lord. Even if they could feel it for just a second, it could change their life.
God has so much for every single person on earth, and He is just waiting for us to ask Him for it. That is the saddest thing I have come to realize as I become more and more familiar with God’s ways: He is so anxious for each one of us to come to Him for wonderful blessings and for total peace of mind and spirit, but so few of us do. And some of those that do often abuse it, thinking that they can continue to act as they want because God is forgiving, so as long as they say they are sorry they will be OK. We all stubbornly want to have things our way, and the history of mankind proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we do not know what is best for us.
God knows what is best for us, and has constantly told us, but have we listened? Are you listening right now?
If you haven’t known the peace that God’s spirit can bring through His blessings, you still have hope for it. If you really, really want to know the Lord, He is just dying to get to know you (pun intended), and all you need to do is admit you need Him, choose to change from ignoring Him to following His commands, and confess you believe Yeshua is the Messiah God promised who died for you- yes, just for you- and you want to be forgiven by means of that sacrifice. That’s all you need to do- perform T’shuvah (turning) from sin in your heart, confess Yeshua is Messiah (this is very hard for Jews but should be easy for Gentiles), and ask God to send His Ruach to indwell and lead you for the rest of your life. This will bring you peace of heart, spirit and mind, and you will then be able to share that peace with all whom you love and care about.
You won’t be free of trouble and strife, for that is inescapable when living in a cursed and fallen world, but the Ruach (Spirit) is like a nice, cleansing hot shower after a long, dirty and sweaty day of hard work.