May 13, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Behar-Bechukotai
This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Behar-Bechukotai is taken from Leviticus 25:1-27:34. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he differentiates an extremely important aspect of the Commandments: Walking in the statutes, keeping the commandments, and carrying them out, and how these affect not only our future, but of those of our children and future generations.
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Behar-Bechukotai - Leviticus 25:1-27:34
In Leviticus 26:3-4 it says, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out; then I will provide the rain you need in its season, the land will yield its produce and the trees in the field will yield their fruit.” What is the difference between walking in the statutes, keeping the commandments, or carrying them out? The sages suggest that to walk in the statutes refers to intensive study of the Torah; to keep the commandments refers to learning how to keep them properly; the carrying them out refers to actually doing what the commandments say to do. In other words, we should study the Torah for the purpose of learning it and we should learn it for the purpose of doing it. “Study to shew thyself approved unto Yah, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
This seems to be an obvious understanding but it isn’t because sometimes we study the Bible simply for the sake of studying or learning the Scriptures. However, we never get around to doing what the bible tells us to do. We hear it and learn its message but fail to put it into practice. We find this especially true in regard to the instructions (laws) of Torah. What is sad is that our “Christian school of thought” believes that the law has only spiritual meaning instead of literal meaning. If that was true, then the laws of Torah were never meant to be kept—they were only to be understood as spiritual lessons.
The early church fathers, not the Apostles, spoke about the spiritual meaning while discouraging people from actually practicing the Torah. This developed a theology of the importance of knowledge only. In Hebraic thought, study is more than just for knowledge…it is actually understanding that knowledge and learning are regarded only as a means for better serving Elohim. So, therefore we study to learn and we learn to do!
In Leviticus 25:9-10 it talks about a “Jubilee shofar” that is an eternal call to freedom and an enduring hope for the future. The Jubilee year calls us back to our roots of freedom. A returning to the ancient paths of Elohim. In Jubilee slaves are freed (released); free to be who he really is—a man who serves only His Yah. This is what Ya’akov is saying in Ya’akov 1:22-25. He encourages us to remember to follow the Torah. He compares Torah to a mirror. He reads Torah and doesn’t do it—like a man who looks in the mirror and walks away forgetting what he looks like.
Torah is actually a description of what the righteousness of Elohim looks like on earth. We have been made a new creation so therefore the Torah is a mirror in which we can see what the “new me” looks like. I need to know what I look like in order to know how to behave in order to be consistent with who I am now! Ya’akov calls the Torah perfect that gives freedom—freedom to be who we are now! Torah doesn’t bring you into bondage! If you follow Torah with proper motives and in the power of the Ruach HaKodesh it enables you to walk a walk of freedom. II Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation—the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new!”
Let’s take it one step further and read Ya’akov 2:12, “Keep speaking and acting like people who will be judged by a Torah which gives freedom.” Look—He is exhorting us to follow the Torah, as He and His followers all did. He is telling us the Torah may function like a judge for us…it will ask us; “Did you believe the Good News of the Living Torah, Yeshua HaMashiach and therefore live it out?” Did you believe the mirror?” “Did you remember what you looked like in the mirror or forget and live like something other than what you really are—a new creation child of Yah?”
In Leviticus 25:8-10 we have the counting of the years to the Jubilee. In Leviticus 23:15-16 we have the counting of the omer from Pesach to Shavuot. So, we have two acts of counting… there is one significant difference which tends to be missed in translation. The counting of the omer is plural and the counting of the years is singular. Tradition interprets this as the omer count as the duty of the individual and the Jubilee count as the duty of the Hebrew people as a whole. What we see implied is an important principle of leadership: As individuals we count the days but as leaders, we count the years. As private people we can think about tomorrow but in our role as leaders we must think long-term. We must focus our eyes on the horizon! In order to be wise, we must foresee the consequences. We must think about the impact of our decisions many years from now. We must do this for the sake of our children.
Moses on the eve of the exodus focused the attention of the Israelites on how they would tell the story to their children in the years to come. He took the first step to making Biblical Judaism a relationship built on education, study and the life of the mind. Moses warns the Israelites that they will find their real challenge not in slavery but in freedom; not in poverty but in abundance; not in homelessness but in having a home.
In order to prevent the decay of life—life must be built on covenant, memory, collective responsibility, justice, welfare, and social inclusion. Jeremiah expressed that even in exile the people could maintain their identity. The Maccabees won a long military struggle but the real war was cultural rather than military! We need to think long-term and build for the future. This is very rare in today’s society because in this contemporary secular culture we focus on the moment; we have short attention spans; fleeting fashions; texts; tweets; 15 minutes of fame; a fixation on today’s headlines; and the “power of now.”
There is nothing mysterious about being able to foresee the consequences of choosing this way rather than that way. To understand the future, it is based on a deep study of the past. We need to begin to count not the omer but the years. We need to ask ourselves… how will this affect the community, this house, my house, my child 25 years from now?
Our task was to build not for us but for our children and grandchildren. Be fruitful and multiply! We must be focused not only on the present but also on the future! This is why Jewish people chose to express their mission in the form of a question. The same question we should ask if we believe in Messiah and His Word: Will we have Jewish grandchildren?” The challenge of this parashah, “Behar”, is that we need to count the years not just the days and we need to keep faith with the past but keeping your eyes firmly fixed on the future!
Let’s study the Torah for the purpose of learning it and learn it for the purpose of doing it! Let’s pass it down to our children and their children. Amen and amen!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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This is going to be a blessed Sabbath as we gather to worship Yeshua our King and Savior. What a great day, the day of Adonai! Study and learn the Torah so you can learn to do for His glory!
See you at the altar!