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Commentary - Year 2 Sabbath 41

Leviticus 21:1-24   -   Ezekiel 44:15-31   -   Psalm 85  -   1 Timothy 3:1-16
 

Tevet 16, 5763 / Dec 21, 2002

Tevet 14, 5766 / Jan 14, 2006

Tevet 14, 5769 / Jan 10, 2009

Tevet 12, 5772 / Jan   7, 2012

Tevet 12, 5775 / Jan   3, 2015

 

Emor el haKohanim / Speak to the Priests    SCRIPTURES (should be read first)

 

Previous chapters of Leviticus dealt with requirements that the people be holy. This chapter deals with requirements for the priests: a higher standard of holiness applied to them.

 

(V.10) During the time of the First Temple, the high priest was consecrated to the priesthood by being anointed with the special oil; during Second Temple times, the holy anointing oil was not available, and the high priest was consecrated by donning the eight vestments.

 

(V.17) The Torah requires that the Temple be beautiful, that the offerings be perfect, and that those who perform the service be unblemished.

 

In 1 Timothy, Paul expresses similar standards concerning those officiating in the synagogue/church. The synagogue is an extension of the Temple of the Holy One.

 

 “Overseer” is from the Hebrew Sheliach Tzibbur – Messenger of the Congregation, or LXX and NT Greek Angeloi tas Ekklesias – Angel of the Church. This is one of ten offices of the synagogue. An overseer oversees the reading of the Torah: he stands next to each reader, and corrects, on the spot, any mistakes in the readings. He first brings the message from God (the Torah portion from the Temple) each week and chooses seven men to read it. This is why God told John, in Revelation, to give His messages to the “angels of the churches”: the messengers, “angels,” would choose readers to give the messages to the congregations, and they would “oversee” the readings.

The Talmudic qualifications for an overseer are:
mastery of Hebrew language and Torah cantillation (trup), hence called a Cantor (Hazzan);
mastery of Hebrew blessings (required for readings), hence called Master of Prayer (Baal Tefilah);
and other qualifications found in Shulhan Arukh and 1 Timothy 3:1-10.

 

Paul tells us that one desiring to oversee must meet standards of holiness. He needs to have attained a level of maturity in the faith (not a new convert), having his household in order (marriage and children), being respected in his community (hospitable, not contentious), and knowledgeable of God’s Word enough to teach. He must not be a seeker of financial gain, nor be conceited. And he must be tried – not a novice. This, of course, means there must be practice.

 

Likewise deacons and deaconesses must be faithful, temperate, not seekers of financial gain, not given to gossip or slander. These are selected in groups of three in each synagogue, to collect alms, and make a professional determination of who is really needy, and distribute accordingly.

 

Ezekiel 44

The priests “shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts, and sanctify My Sabbaths.”

“You shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house.”

 

Psalm 85 was apparently written concerning the then current return of Israel from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the Holy Temple. But it is also seen as prophetic of the final redemption.

 

A sign of God’s favor is rain and abundant crops from the land.

 

(V.2) Yahweh favored His land with the return of the exiles, but His ultimate favoring of His land is yet to be seen, when Yeshua reigns over the earth from Jerusalem. He “returned the captivity of Jacob”, but the previous return was temporary, whereas the future return will be permanent. “Jacob” is used here (instead of “Israel”), because the nation was not in its position of glory.

 

(V.3-4)Yahweh forgave His nation their iniquity, and atoned for their sin. He withheld the entirety of His wrath, and retreated from His anger. But it would return for their continued sin, and the Temple would again be destroyed. Not until the final redemption will atonement be complete, and wrath totally ended.

 

(V.9) For then He will speak peace to His nation, and to His devout ones, and they will not return to folly!

 

(V.11) Then it may be said, “Kindness and truth have met”: when Israel is redeemed, and delights in truth, being the light to the nations, then Yahweh’s kindness will be fully shown upon them. “The remnant of Israel shall do no iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall deceitful language be found in their mouth” – Zephaniah 3:13. “Righteousness and peace have kissed”: when Israel is made righteous, the Prince of Peace will reign. Yom haKippurim represents the time when the ancient church, called Israel, will be purified to dwell with Messiah.

 

(V.12-13) Then, “Truth will sprout from the earth,” and “Our land will yield its produce.”

 

Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers): Torah Study vs. Earning a Livelihood

 “In many places in Jewish Literature, the Sages extol the virtues of supporting oneself. We learned above, ‘Love work and despise high position’ (1:10). We will also learn below, ‘If there is no flour (read, dough), there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour’ (3:17). King David wrote in Psalms (128:2), ‘When you eat the fruits of your labors, you are fortunate and it will be good for you.’ The Talmud (Berachos 8a) adds, ‘you are fortunate’ - in this world, ‘and it will be good for you’ - in the World to Come. The Talmud (Pesachim 113a) tells us further, ‘One should flay carcasses in the marketplace and earn a living. He should not say I am a Priest, I am a great man and such work is beneath me.’ Finally, the Sages obligate a father to teach his son a trade (Talmud Kiddushin 29a).

The Sages also forbid earning money *from* one's Torah knowledge. We will learn below ‘Do not make the Torah a crown to aggrandize yourself or a spade to dig with (4:5).’ The Torah is ours to study and acquire, but not ours to market. Maimonides (Mishne Torah Hil' Talmud Torah 3:10) does not pull his punches: ‘Whoever thinks he will study Torah and not work and will be supported from charity, profanes God's Name, shames the Torah, darkens the light of knowledge, causes harm to himself, and takes his life from this world, for it is forbidden to derive benefit from the Torah in this world.’ ”

The following Scriptures do not contradict what is stated above. There is a distinction between a flock giving honor, and a worker requiring wages. In the latter case, an extreme may be seen where a “pastor” or “rabbi” goes where he can negotiate the highest salary; this is using the Bible both to aggrandize oneself (with a title), and as a spade (to make monetary gain).

 

1 Timothy 5:17-18

17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

 

1 Corinthians 9:6-18

6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? 8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

 

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."

 

Reader 1Amen. 1 Then Yahweh said to Moses, "Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: 'No one shall defile himself for a dead person among his people, 2 except for his relatives who are nearest to him, his mother and his father and his son and his daughter and his brother, 3 also for his virgin sister, who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may defile himself.

Reader 2Amen. 4 'He shall not defile himself as a relative by marriage among his people, and so profane himself. 5 'They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh. 6 'They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they present the offerings by fire to Yahweh, the food of their God; so they shall be holy.

Reader 3Amen. 7 'They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God. 8 'You shall consecrate him, therefore, for he offers the food of your God; he shall be holy to you; for I Yahweh, who sanctifies you, am holy. 9 'Also the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by harlotry, she profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.

Reader 4Amen. 10 'The priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; 11 nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself even for his father or his mother; 12 nor shall he go out of the sanctuary nor profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am Yahweh.

Reader 5Amen. 13 'He shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 'A widow, or a divorced woman, or one who is profaned by harlotry, these he may not take; but rather he is to marry a virgin of his own people, 15 so that he will not profane his offspring among his people; for I am Yahweh who sanctifies him.'"

Reader 6Amen. 16 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 17 "Speak to Aaron, saying, 'No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the food of his God. 18 'For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, 19 or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.

Reader 7Amen. 21 'No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a defect is to come near to offer Yahweh's offerings by fire; since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 'He may eat the food of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy, 23 only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries. For I am Yahweh who sanctifies them.'" 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel.

 

"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."

 

Ezekiel 44:15-31

Reader 8Amen. 15 "But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood," declares Lord Yahweh. 16 "They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge. 17 It shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house. 18 Linen turbans shall be on their heads and linen undergarments shall be on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything which makes them sweat. 19 When they go out into the outer court, into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other garments so that they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments. 20 Also they shall not shave their heads, yet they shall not let their locks grow long; they shall only trim the hair of their heads. 21 Nor shall any of the priests drink wine when they enter the inner court. 22 And they shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman but shall take virgins from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.

Reader 9Amen. 23 Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24 In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My Sabbaths. 25 They shall not go to a dead person to defile themselves; however, for father, for mother, for son, for daughter, for brother, or for a sister who has not had a husband, they may defile themselves. 26 After he is cleansed, seven days shall elapse for him. 27 On the day that he goes into the sanctuary, into the inner court to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering," declares Lord Yahweh. 28 "And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel-- I am their possession. 29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 The first of all the first fruits of every kind and every contribution of every kind, from all your contributions, shall be for the priests; you shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house. 31 The priests shall not eat any bird or beast that has died a natural death or has been torn to pieces.”

 

Psalm 85    (To be sung.)    For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

1 O Yahweh, You showed favor to Your land; You restored the captivity of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin. Selah. 3 You withdrew all Your fury; You turned away from Your burning anger. 4 Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your indignation toward us to cease. 5 Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? 6 Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? 7 Show us Your lovingkindness, O Yahweh, and grant us Your salvation. 8 I will hear what the God Yahweh will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly. 9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. 10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. 11 Truth springs from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. 12 Indeed, Yahweh will give what is good, and our land will yield its produce. 13 Righteousness will go before Him and will make His footsteps into a way.

 

1 Timothy 3

Reader 10*  Amen. 1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Reader 11*  Amen. 8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Messiah Yeshua. 14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

"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)

 

 

 

 

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