Category Archives: Torah

Parashat Metzora (מצורע): Leviticus 14–15

A house with toxic mold can be a hidden chronic health hazard. And an unsightly discoloration of the skin could be the harbinger of a creeping killer, if not diagnosed properly and quickly. The physical necessities of dealing with such “leprosy” in body and stuff illustrate well the cancers of character that grow and consume, if left untreated.

The Torah reading, מְּצֹרָע Metzora (“leper,” Leviticus 14–15) reveals how entering the Presence of the Creator of Heaven and Earth requires cleanliness that’s more than skin-deep. That cleanup job is something that’s described in Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16) and reaches its reality in the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Mashiakh (Jesus the Christ).

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Parashat Tazria (תזריע): Leviticus 12–13

Why would God want newborns and their mothers to be purified shortly after birth? Why is God so concerned about leprosy amid instructions for living life differently from the rest of the world? If we stick with appearances, our understanding the heart of God will be only skin deep. That’s what’s between the lines of this week’s Torah reading, תזריע Tazria (“she will conceive”), covering Leviticus 12–13.

The lesson about childbirth goes back to the beginning of the world and stretches to our time. The teaching on leprosy is more about what’s going on inside a person.

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Leviticus 9-11; Mark 7; Acts 10: Become clean and holy from the inside out

Yisra’el has a long history of forgetting what makes people “holy,” what makes them “clean” to approach the Presence of the Name. The LORD does that; the person doesn’t make himself or herself holy. It’s also often been lost that being declared tamé (“unclean”) doesn’t make one sinful or wicked either. Understanding the parable of “clean” and “unclean” is key to understanding Yeshua’s instructions on hand-washing in Mark 7 and Peter’s vision of unclean meats in Acts 10.

Yeshua’s frequently argued with the Pharisees over their emphasis on their man-made traditions over the plain word of scripture and how their man-made traditions were doing more to keep people away from God than bringing them into God’s embrace.

Even after Yeshua’s death and resurrection, these false ideas about the inherent holiness of the Jewish people and the inherent wickedness of the Gentiles was hindering God’s goal to lift up, bring near, make clean and declare holy believers from the nations in the same way Heaven does for the “native-born.”

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Parashat Shemini (שמיני): Leviticus 9–11

In our joy to come into close relationship with the Creator, we may forget to have respect of Who He is. One of the lessons of this week’s Torah reading, שמיני Shemini (“eighth”), covering Lev. 9:1–11:47, is remembering how to discern what God has set apart — cleaned up — from what isn’t. That’s behind the object lesson of clean and unclean foods, and put into sharp focus in Acts 10.

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Leviticus 6:8–8:36: God wants a relationship with you that responds and grows

Normally when God spoke to Moses and gave him an instruction, God said “tell,” “speak” or “instruct.” This time, God told Moses to “command” Aaron.

The relationship that God wants with you is a relationship that responds and grows. If we respond and grow, we are like a tree that will produce good fruit. If we don’t grow and respond, we won’t produce good fruit. The High Priest is supposed to encourage the relationship between God and His people produce good fruit for eternity.

When God commands one to do something, deviation from the instruction isn’t tolerated. The Torah reading צו Tzav (“command,” Lev. 6:8–8:36) includes detailed instructions on how the priests are to handle other people’s offerings, symbolizing their approach to God. The LORD told Aaron that doing this right matters, not just to the people, but to God.

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Leviticus 1:1-6:7: Entering God’s Presence via the sacrifice of a contrite heart

None of these sacrifices or offerings of the Tabernacle or Temple of ancient Israel apply to us today, yet all of them apply to us today. That paradox comes to us because forgiveness for diverging from the Creator’s plan has always come to mankind the same way: the old way of life must die. Offerings of blood and food never accomplished that — and never were meant to.

So then, what’s the deal with all the detailed instructions in the Bible about killing animals, pouring and sprinkling blood, burning carcasses and bringing in offerings of produce? Yeshua the Mashiakh taught in parables, and the Word of God teaches through the parable of the Tabernacle.

The punchline of the parable: When we sin, something has to die. The offerings that involved death of the animal teach that the contrite person — humble and seeking change — is transformed on the approach toward God, ultimately coming face to face with the Creator by way of the blood of the perfectly pure and innocent presented at the Tabernacle doorway. This parable memorializes Heaven’s mercy in forgiving humanity’s oopsies, carelessness, wanton disregard and even rebellion against the LORD by the Offering that only needed to be offered “once for all” (Heb. 9:11–14; 10:8–10).

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