Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Bamidbar - Bamidbar (Numbers) 1 – 4:20 With Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use


"And YHVH spoke to Moses in the wilderness…" (emphasis added), are the opening words of the Torah's fourth book, Bamidbar (Numbers). In this first verse YHVH is "speaking" – "va’ydaber" – “in the wilderness" - "ba-midbar" - both words originating from the same multifaceted root - d.v.r (dalet, bet/vet, resh).  Let us examine this root and follow it to a number of unexpected places.  

“In the beginning was the word (davar), and the word (davar) was with Elohim, and Elohim was the word (“davar”)… And the word (davar) became flesh and lived among us…” (John 1:1,14). Davar is the spoken word, the all-powerful utterance that creates or generates everything, while “thing” is also "davar".  Thus, all "things" appear to be the results of that which has been "said" or "spoken".  In the Tanach many terms, such as lies, wisdom, falsehood, truth and more, are preceded by “d’var” – meaning “thing of….” indicating that the origin of all things is the ‘utterance’.  Davar is that which proceeds out of the mouth of Elohim, and is therefore "the Word of Elohim".  “Matters” or “business” are also “davar” (or “dvarim” in plural form), as we see for example in Shmot (Exodus) 5:13, 19: “Fulfill your works, your – dvarim - daily tasks" (emphasis added), and in Shoftim (Judges) 18:7, reference is made to the Danites who “… had no – dvarim - business with any man” (emphasis added).  Terms such as “deeds" (Jer. 5:28, speaking of "deeds of the wicked") are also “dvarim”. "Reason, motives, customs" (“the custom of the king” in Esther 1:13) also fall within the framework of “davar”.  The literal rendering for “after the order of Malchitzedek” (ref. Ps. 110:4), is “upon my divra, Malchitzedek”, that is, “upon my word”. The form “divra” illustrates the depth and scope of “davar”, which may be also rendered as an “order, pattern, type, arch or proto type". Hence, the “Ten Commandments” - “aseret ha-d’varim” - are “the ten words” or “things”, or “matters” (Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:13, 10:4. Notice, none of these terms are related to “commandments” or “laws”).

From this point let us venture further a-field to “dever”, which is "plague", or “pestilence”.  Although this abrupt transition may seem curious, it is consistent with many such disparities found in the Tanach.  If we remember that "davar" also means "cause", than the "plague", or "dever", illustrates the principle that “the curse causeless/without reason shall not come” (Prov. 26:2).  Indeed, time after time the plague is the result of rebellion against Elohim, as in the case of the plagues of Egypt. YHVH says to Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) about the people of Yisrael: “I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine and by the plague - dever” (Jer. 14:12 italics added). The following is what He speaks to the Land of Yisrael through the prophet Y’chezkel (Ezekiel): “The sword from without and the plague – dever - from within” (Ez. 7:15 italics added). Amos 4:10 records another warning by Elohim to send a plague upon His people.

"Subdue” or "destroy" stem, once again, from the root d.v.r, with its infinitive “le’hadbir”.  In T’hilim (Psalms) 18:47 we find, for example: “Elohim… subdues the people under me” (emphasis added). This verb also means “to expel or send away", such as sending off the flock to pasture, or to the desert.  Thus in Mi’cha (Micah) 2:12 the flocks are seen in the midst of their “hidabar”, which is translated "fold" or "pasture".

The "subdued" enemy (or the sinner), therefore, is often  “pursued", "sent away", or “driven” to the "wilderness" or "desert" - "midbar".  But just as the wilderness may turn out to be a place of “pasture” for the flocks, it may also become a place of repentance and spiritual refreshing to those who are fleeing (or are forced) there. In the “midbar’s” stillness there are many opportunities to hear the voice of YHVH sounding His Word. The Bible records an impressive list of those who can attest to this fact.

Another place where YHVH’s voice is heard is in the Holy of Holies (or “inner sanctuary”), which in Solomon’s Temple is called Dvir (ref. 1st Kings 6:16).  Dvir is the furthest and innermost place within the Temple.  Divine communication, therefore, is to be found in the furthest and remotest of places; sometimes even in a land of banishment and punishment, which may not only become a refreshing oasis, but may even turn into a 'Holy of Holies'.

In summation, the Word, as epitomized by the Son of Elohim, is life giving, but rejecting Him (the "Davar") may result in a plague (“dever”), which subdues and drives ("madbir") one to the desert ("midbar"), there to be spoken to ("daber") by the Living Word ("Davar") Who utters the Word of Truth ("dvar emet") in His inner sanctuary, or most holy place (dvir). “And I will woo her to Me in the wilderness…” we read in Hoshe’ah (Hosea) 2:14. D.v.r teaches us why it was essential for the Israelites, on their road to becoming a nation, to experience a wilderness journey.

Chapters 1 and 2 of Bamidbar describe the formation of the congregation of Yisrael’s encampment, for the purpose of a census (cf. Ex. 30:11-16). However, whereas on the previous occasion (in Exodus) each of them had to “give a ransom for his soul to YHVH while numbering them” (which was of one half shekel that was used for the Mishkan), here they are not required to do so.

"Lift the heads of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, by their skulls (literal translation, Num. 1:2 emphasis added). Notice that, the counting is referred to as “lifting of the heads”. "Nahmanides emphasizes that the census was personal and individual… impressing on us the value and sterling worth of each and every soul which is a unique specimen of divine creativity and a world of its own".  In the same vein, Isaac Arama says: "They were not just like animals or material objects, but each one had an importance of his own like a king or a priest.  Indeed Elohim had shown special love towards them and this is the significance of mentioning each one of them by name and status; for they were all equal and individual in status".[1][1] Yeshua’s death, for each and every man (ref. Heb. 2:9) on the Hill of "Golgota", which is Aramaic for "skull", lends an even greater credence to the above statements. 

In Hebrew Insights into Parashat Shmot (Ex. 1-6:1) we noted that, as soon as the Egyptians embarked on their program of subjugating the Hebrews they began treating them as a nameless mass (ref. Ex. 1:10-12), while also condemning to death the baby boys (Ex. 1:16). This is in a striking contrast to what we encounter in Bamidbar chapter 1. In Verse 18 we read, “State their genealogies”, or “declare their pedigree”, or “register their ancestry” (depending on the translation), which is designated in Hebrew by one word - “hit’yaldu” - the root being y.l.d (yod, lamed, dalet) for “child” or “to give birth”, or “midwife” (this also brings to mind the two midwives who saved the lives of the baby boys). This verb is found nowhere else in Scripture, and literally means to “become a child”. Thus, restoring the nameless individuals and clans to their respective origins, with the various groupings and families being recognized, acknowledged, and brought to the fore, is part of the redemption process. This aspect of redemption will one day be experienced again when all the names of the families, clans and tribes of Yisrael will be revealed, so as to make up the full Commonwealth of the Household of Yisrael.  

When the roll call was completed and the Levites' duties in the Mishkan were dispensed, "YHVH spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 'Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father's house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting'" (2:1, 2).  The organizational process, of turning the former slaves into a nation, is continuing. The Israelites were to array themselves according to their tribes in specified directions around the Mishkan. The “standard" mentioned here (and in 1:52) is "degel", of the root d.g.l (dalet, gimmel, lamed). In Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 5:10 we read: "My Beloved is bright and ruddy, standing out among ten thousand". “Standing out" is "dagul", and shares its root with “degel”. "Dagul" may also be interpreted as "chosen" and "selected".  Again, in the same book, the betrothed says about her beloved, "And His banner ("diglo") over me is love" (2:4). The various banners, or standards (according to the respective tribes) with their emblems, were indicative of YHVH's favor and love toward His "select" people, and over each member of this chosen race. 

The "emblems", mentioned above in 2:2, are "otot" (plural, and "ot" singular). "Ot" (alef, vav, tav) is a widely used term, denoting "sign, token, pledge, assurance, miracle, omen" and more.  Although we do not know what the banners looked like, it appears that each of them had the "ot", or sign, of a particular "father's house", which rendered each tribe much like a family related to a single progenitor. 

Concerning the grouping around the Mishkan, which was in the midst of the camp, Nahmanides says in relationship to this edifice:  “It was a kind of Mount Sinai on which the Torah was given, accompanying them on all their journeying”. Benno Jacob follows up this idea: “The Lord transferred His presence from Sinai to the Tabernacle, from the sanctuary of the Lord which His hands had established, to the sanctuary which Israel had made'"2 This may account for the strict orders of the camp's formation.

The above mentioned orders, regarding the tribes and their placements, excluded the Levites who were to serve in the Mishkan, and were to be at YHVH's disposal. In the course of the detailed description of their duties and responsibilities for the various parts of the Mishkan, mention is made of the edifice’s sides (Num. 3:29, 35). The Hebrew word here for “side” is “yarech”, of the root y.r.ch (yod, resh, kaf/chaf), meaning “thigh, loin or base”. The thigh represents man’s strength and power (see Gen. 24:2; 47:29), both in terms of virility and force (being also the place upon which the sword was placed). That is why in order for Ya’acov to become Yisrael his he was so in injured that he limped on his thigh (Gen. 32:31), and likewise the repentant one, who in order to demonstrate his true intentions smites this part of his body (e.g. Jer. 31:19, Ephraim’s repentance). Similar to the root d.v.r. in some of its uses, “yarech” also refers to the “furthermost point”, to the “backside” or to the “rear” (Jud. 19:1, Is. 14:15), and hence the application to “side”.

The vicarious role of the Levites as firstborn follows in Bamidbar 3:41, 45 with reference to their required conduct. It says there that, they were to be taken “instead” or “in place of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel”. “Instead” or “in place of”, here (and in numerous other places), is “tachat”, meaning “rear, under, or underneath”, thus underscoring the required attitude of humility and servitude congruent with the tasks assigned to YHVH’s ministers. On the same issue: In chapter 1 verse 49 it says regarding the Levites: "Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel”. However, the literal Hebrew says the following: “But the Tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor shall you lift up their heads among the children of Israel”. Although, “lift up their heads” does imply census, as we saw above, let us not ignore the literal meaning of “not lifting up the heads [of the priesthood and their assistants] among the [rest of] the children of Israel”!

Chapter 4 elucidates how the chosen family of K'hat (Kohath) was to dismantle the Mishkan, when it was time to move on.  During this awesome procedure they had to restrain themselves and avert their gaze from the holy articles, with the help of A'haron and his sons (vs 19, 20). "They shall not go in to see the holy things as they are being covered, lest they die", is the Parasha's last verse, which literally says, "And they shall not go in to see, at the swallowing of the holy things [lest] they die". The usage here of "swallow" ("bela") for "covering" the Mishkan articles is very unusual. It may be alluding to the fact that an unwarranted gaze could bring upon the onlookers (that is, the members of the K'hat clan) the penalty of being swallowed alive (a form of punishment which was sometimes inflicted – supernaturally - upon offenders, such as in the case of Korah in Num. 16:30-34). Thus, A'haron’s family was being charged with responsibility over the lives of their brothers, the K'hats, whose "keepers" they were to be.

1 New Studies in Bamidbar, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh
Newman. Eliner Library, Department for Torah Education and
Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books Inc., Brooklyn, N. 
2        Ibid

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

Most of our attention in the above article was focused on the root d.v/b.r which is still used widely and commonly in Modern Hebrew. Let us do some conjugating of this verb and in this way practice using it. In this Parasha we also encountered the unique usage of “hitya’ldu” for “pedigree”, or “genealogy”, while the noun “yeled” is the common word for “child”, and “moledet” is one’s “homeland”. This takes us to the “banner”, which in Bamidbar 2:2 is “degel” and in everyday speech is used for “flag”.

I (masculine) speak Hebrew
Ani me’da’ber Ivrit

I (feminine) do not speak Hebrew
Ani lo meh’da’be’ret Ivrit

You (masculine) talk much
Ata me’da’ber harbeh

You (feminine) speak English
At me’da’be’ret Anglit

He is speaking to the child
Hu meda’ber el ha’yeled

The girl is speaking about (lit. “on”) the homeland

Ha’yal’da me’da’be’ret al ha’moledet

The homeland’s flag (lit. the flag of the homeland)
Ha’degel shel ha’moledet 









Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Hebrew Insights into Parashot Be’har/Bechu’kotai – VAYIKRA (Leviticus): 25-27:34 With Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use


The first verse of Parashat B’har (meaning, "In Mount…") serves to remind us that YHVH’s words to the Children of Yisrael, via Moshe, were spoken in Mount Sinai.

The opening of the Parasha focuses on the seventh year suspension of all soil cultivation (known as “Shmita,” whose root sh.m.t is mentioned in Parashat Mishpatim Ex. 23:11. See Heb. Insights into Parashat Mishpatim - Ex. 21-24).  In spite of this edict regarding work cessation, it is stated, "the Sabbath of the land shall be to you for food" (25:6). This declaration contains the familiar and principal thought, similar to the one that accompanies the weekly Shabbat, that YHVH is the Provider and thus the members of the community are afforded an opportunity to exercise faith throughout that year. In fact, contrary to human logic, this very rest will result in abundance

Secondly, every member of the community, as well as the livestock, is equally promised provision for that time period (25: 6, 7). Again, not unlike the weekly Shabbat, the benefits of YHVH's year of land-rest apply to one and all without regard to status and origin. However, this “Shabbat of Shabbats” (v. 4) year, together with the 50th year Jubilee, the "yovel" to which the rest of this Parasha is dedicated - apply only in the Land of Yisrael.

In 25:3 we read: "You shall sow your field six years, and you shall prune your vineyard six years, and shall gather its produce". "Produce" or "provender" is “t'vua”, of the root b.o. (vet/bet, vav, alef), meaning “to come, come in or go in", but in another conjugation it is “to bring”. Thus, the term "produce" conveys the idea of that which does not result merely from man's productivity or effort, but rather that which "comes" or is "brought" to him from an outside source.

As already mentioned, following YHVH's instructions guarantees that “…you shall live on the land securely. And the land shall give its fruit, and you shall eat to satisfaction; and you shall dwell securely on it" (25:18, 19). To this promise there will be an extra and supernatural blessing added: "I have commanded My blessing on you in the sixth year. And it shall produce the increase for three years; and you shall sow the eighth year, and shall eat of the old crop until the ninth year, until the coming [bo] in of its produce [t'vua]; you shall eat of the old" (21-22, italics added). Here again we see the connection between “produce” and the verb "to come" (remember, both originate in the same root).

The un-gathered harvest (or “after growth”) is called “that which grows of itself” – “safee’ach”, of the root s.f.ch (samech, pey/fey, chet), literally “adding, attaching, joining (25:5, 11).  In light of verse 25:23, where the addressees (the Yisraelites) are called “strangers [gerim] and sojourners”, it is interesting to note how the verb s.p/f.ch is used in Yishayahu (Isaiah) 14:1: “For YHVH will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers (gerim) will be joined [nisfe’chu] with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob” (Italics added). 

"Your unkempt grapes" (25: 5, 11) are termed here “ee'nvey (“grapes of”) nezir'cha”. This expression is rooted in the word “nazir” (Nazarite), whose restrictive vows include abstention from wine drinking or grape eating. Why are these grapes qualified by the term “nazir”? The connection is thought to be the Nazarite's hair, which was to be left uncut and unkempt, much like these grape vines. This is reinforced by the first part of verse 5 ("that which grows of itself", alluding to unkemptness).

As mentioned, the second part of the Parasha deals with the Year of the “Yovel” ("jubilee", which is a direct derivative of “yovel”). The primary meaning of yovel is thought to be the word for “horned animal” or for the "horn" itself, which was used for multiple purposes in the ancient Israelite community. Quite possibly the role of the “horned animal” (such as the bull or ox), in leading solemn processions has branched off into nouns and verbs that share the root y.v/b.l (yod, bet/vet, lamed) and are therefore connected to “leading”.  The verb “hovel” is to "lead", thus forming the noun for "stream" which is “yuval”, and for the "produce of the soil" – “y'vul” (‘issuing or proceeding out of the ground’).  Another interesting derivative of this root is “tevel”, meaning "world".  This renders the world and its elements (e.g. streams and produce) as mere ‘issues’, or results that proceed (or ‘are led’) from that which has originally formed or produced them, but which exists outside of them. Notice the conceptual (and etymological) similarity to our former observation of the term "provender" - t'vua.  The earth is YHVH’s, and the fullness of it; the world (“tevel”), and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1), affirms this point.

Aside from letting the land lie fallow during the year of the “yovel”, that year was also to be “sanctified” (“vekidashtem”) for the purpose of "proclaiming liberty in the land to all its inhabitants…" (25:10). "Liberty" is “dror”, which is the same word for the bird known as "swallow" (e.g. Pr. 26:2), thus lending a graphic rendition to this term.  The yovel year signifies and stipulates that all property, or its calculated value in another form, is to be returned to its original owner. “But above all the human benefits attached to the yovel, there is a greater significance to its proclamation; a significance that at the same time also forms a ‘Divine paradox’ so typical of Hebraic logic.  In 25:23 we read: “And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is Mine; for you are aliens and tenants with Me". "Perpetuity" here is “tzmi'toot”, stemming from the root tz.m.t (tzadi, mem, tav) which is to “end, put an end to something" or “freeze assets”.  Thus, reverting property to its original owner demonstrates the fact that it actually belongs to… YHVH, as we just learned from the above-cited Psalm.  And as much as the Torah stresses ownership rights, it also reminds us, almost in the same breath, who the real Owner is and that “we have no permanent city here, but we seek the one to come" (Hebrews 13:14).

Another aspect of the yovel is redemption, “geula”, whose primary meaning is "kin" (denoted by “go’el”).  It is the next-of-kin's duty to buy back that which a member of the family has lost - or perhaps even the family member himself, if he had been conscripted to slavery. In the case of a Hebrew slave, he is to be released on the yovel, “because they are My servants, whom I have brought out from the land of Egypt" (25:42 italics added). This verse is set in a context of the release of (other) slaves (25:44ff). Biblical Hebrew for "slave" and "servant" is one and the same - e'ved - from the root e.v.d (ayin, vet/bet, dalet), meaning "work" or "labor" (and also rendering service to, or worship of, YHVH).

Proper treatment of one's fellow citizen, defined as "brother", prohibits charging usury or interest (ref. 25:36,37). The two words used are “neshech” and “marbit”. The root of neshech (n.sh.ch, noon, sheen, chaf) is also the root for the verb “to bite". "Those who bite" (e.g. Habbakuk 2:7) are therefore the oppressors and creditors. “Marbit” is from the root r.v/b.a (resh, vet/bet) which literally means "much, many, to add, to make greater, to increase". Hence “marbit” is a "monetary increment".

As part of taking care of one’s “brother”, if he has lost his assets and was sold to “a stranger who sojourns with you, or to a member of the stranger’s family” (25:47 literal translation), the addressee of this injunction is obliged to redeem the one sold. As to the “member of the stranger’s family”, here he is called “eker”, which is a most unusual term. The root a.k.r (ayin, kof, resh) basically means “to uproot”, and thus a “barren woman” is “akara”. But since this word can also mean a “shoot”, making the one plucked out from the parent plant also transplantable – albeit in different soil. Further, should misfortune be the lot of a native Israelite, he too would feel “plucked out” and “uprooted,” and hence this term may also be applied to, or at least infer to the latter. Selling one’s services this Israelite is termed “sachir” – a hired person,  “servant” (as some of your translations would have it), servant not appearing in the original text (25:40, 50, 53).   

Aside from instructions on to how to calculate the redemption payment (25:50-53), specifics are also given as to the possible next of kin who is eligible to redeem (vs. 48, 49) the one who has “become poor” (“mooch”, root of m.oo.ch –  mem, vav, kaf – impoverish, become low).  Having once been others’ servants/slaves, the sons of Yisrael are now the servants/slaves of the One who redeemed them from their lowly state (ref. 25:55), hence YHVH requires that redemption be continually operative in accordance with the measures that He is providing for His people.     

The topic of the important place accorded to the Land, which we examined in Parashat B’har with its varied ramifications, continues in Parashat B’chu’kotai ("In My Statutes"), as seen in 26:3-13. Keeping YHVH's statutes is destined to be reflected in the natural conditions of the Land of Yisrael.  The correlation will be seen in the abundance of rain (and therefore of crops), the removal of dangerous carnivores, demographic expansion, abundance and prosperity.  The other benefits resulting from faithfulness to YHVH and His Word will be peaceful conditions prevailing in the Land and its surroundings, the ability to defeat the enemy, and primarily the fulfillment of His promise to instate His Mishkan in the midst of His people, and to always walk among them (ref. 26:11, 12).

In 26:5 we read, “…and your threshing shall reach [or overtake] the vintage, and the vintage shall reach [or overtake] the sowing time; and you shall eat your bread to satisfaction, and live in your land securely”.  This is especially pertinent in light of Parashat B’har’s sh’mita-year promise: “Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years” (Lev. 25:21 italics added).  In a prophecy pertaining to a latter day, the prophet Amos echoes this “overtaking”: "The plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who draws along seed" (9:13). Moreover, 26:10: "And you shall eat very old provision, and clear away the old because of the new", reminds us of 25:22 (in the previous Parasha): “And [you] shall eat of the old crop… until the coming in of its crop; you shall eat of the old". In other words, not only will there be a long and lasting overabundance which will remain fresh and usable for the entire time period, but even before it is fully consumed there will be a fresh crop!

Having examined above, in Parashat B’har, one of the words for "interest" - “marbit”, we will now take a look at another word that shares the same root -  “r’vava” (which we also encountered in Parashat Cha’yey Sarah in Gen. 24:60). In 26:8 we read, "…and one hundred of you shall pursue ten thousand (“r’vava”)…" (emphasis added).

These promises are sealed with the familiar: "I am YHVH your Elohim, who has brought you out of the land of the Egyptians, from being their slaves”. It then continues: “And I will break the bars of your yoke, and I will make you walk upright" (26:13). "Walking upright" is “ko'memi'yoot”, of the root k.o.m (kof, vav, mem), meaning to “rise or get up".  In Parashot Va'ye'tze (Gen. 28:10-32:2) and Vayishlach (Gen. 32:3-Ch. 36) we noticed the significance of Ya'acov's "rising up", as well as that of the special "place" - ma'kom (of the same root) - where he experienced some of his ‘rising’. Here the sons of this Patriarch are promised "an upright walk", providing they do so in Elohim's chosen paths. Additionally, in 26:37 we encounter the word “t’kuma”, translated "power to stand" (“you shall have no power to stand before your enemies”), with its more modern usage being "resurrection" and "recovery."

But if Yisrael chooses to “..despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break [invalidate] My covenant” (26:15 italics added), a long list of punitive measures follow. “Abhor” here is “tig’al” (root g.a.l gimmel, ayin, lamed), being the first time this word is mentioned (26:11). Some may recognize the similarity of this verb to “ga’al” – redeem (gimmel, alef, lamed), a minor change in spelling and sound (ayin versus alef), and yet a world of difference!  Making void the covenant signifies removing one’s self from under the protective umbrella of redemption, rendering it no longer operational.  Further in verse 18 we read: “if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins”. The chastisement of “seven times over” is also mentioned in verses 21, 24 and 28.  As part of YHVH’s covenant with His people, provision for national atonement for sin was made available by the high priest sprinkling seven times the blood of a goat on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement (ref. Lev. 16:14).  Hence, nullifying the covenant would result in a similarly seven-fold outcome.

Thus YHVH will not "make them walk uprightly" (as we saw above), but instead will inflict upon them a series of blows. Moreover, He will also "walk contrary" to them (ref. 26:24).The expression "walking contrary" is used nowhere else except in this chapter, where it appears… seven times! The word used for "contrary" – keri -  probably stems from the root k.r.h (kof, resh, hey), meaning "to happen". Rashi comments on this: “Our rabbis said: ‘This word signifies irregularity, by chance, something that happens only occasionally. Thus [meaning], 'if you will follow the commandments irregularly…’ Menahem explains it as an expression for refraining… ‘refrain (hoker) your foot from your neighbor's house’ (Prov. 25:17), or of a refraining (va'yikar) spirit…."1. “Keri”, therefore, may refer to an avoidance of performing YHVH’s Word, along with a casual and nonchalant attitude which was also condemned by Yeshua in Revelation 3:15,16, where we read: "I wish you were cold or hot… So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will spew you out of my mouth" (italics added), leading us to the curse of eventually being spewed out of the Land (26:32 – 39, and also Lev. 20:22). Thus the “contrary walk” incurs a “seven-fold chastisement”.

The list of curses (26:14-46) is somewhat parallel to the list of the blessings, albeit much longer. It is divided up into several progressive categories: diseases, defeat, drought, carnivorous animals, and a combination of wars, plagues and famines, which will cause parents to consume their own children's flesh.  Finally, after the destruction of the idols and pagan images, there will be a dispersion of the People of Yisrael among the nations. Under these conditions, and once the Land has been emptied of its inhabitants, its Shabbats will be repaid (as the Israelites would not keep the Sabbatical years that we read about in the last Parasha). These Shabbats will "appease" the land, with the word used here being “tirtzeh” (of the root “ratzon” - “will” or “acceptance”). Thus, the land "will be appeased" (v. 34, 35) and “accept” its inhabitants.  Accordingly, the "year of acceptance" is “sh'nat ratzon” (Is. 61:2).  The same word for “acceptance” appeared in Parashat Emor, where we read in Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:11 about the Omer: "And he [the priest] shall wave the sheaf before YHVH, to be accepted [lirtzon'chem] for you…" (italics added).  As we saw above, negligence to observe the Shmita  on the seventh year, is what makes the figure ”seven” stand out, relative to sin and the penalties subsequently incurred. The usage of seven here reminds us of some of the commands which the Israelites will be transgressing, commands that are related to the figure seven, such as the seventh day of the week, the seventh year of rest, and the seven years multiplied by seven leading to the Jubilee, the 50th year of release of all debts and property.

The last part of Parashat B’chu’kotai deals with laws concerning vows of dedication to YHVH (27:2-29), while the final verses pertain to tithes. Verse 2 introduces the subject of the vows by not merely stating “if a man/person takes a vow…” (literal translation), but curiously qualifies the vow by the verb “yaflee”, rooted in “pele” - y.p/f.a (yod, pey/fey, alef), which means “wonder, wonderful”, such as in “Wonderful Counselor” (Is.9:6). This verb renders these vows as very special. The verse continues to say (regarding those who were to be subject of the vows): “souls according to your evaluation to YHVH”. In other words, these are vows concerning the dedication of souls to YHVH whose ‘worth’ is determined by the person taking the vow. In so doing he has to be aware of the awesomeness of his responsibility, hence the unusual usage of the verb “yaflee” above. The “evaluation” (“erech” - ayin, resh, chaf) of souls continues all the way through verse 8, having been defined at the very beginning by the usage of “pele”, which denotes the enormity of the task. 

As mentioned, verses 32-33 (ch. 27) deal with tithes: “And all the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, all that passes under the rod, a tenth shall be holy to YHVH.  He shall not search whether it is good or bad; neither shall he change it…” (italics added). Y’chezkel (Ezekiel) 20:37-38 echoes the terms we encounter here, applying them to YHVH’s sheep and to the land of their inheritance: “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.  And I will purge out from among you the rebels and those who sin against Me. I will bring them out from the land where they reside, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel” (italics added).  In the above Vayikra (Leviticus) text, we encountered, “He shall not search (also meaning “to inspect”)” – “lo ye’vaker (v. 33).  Y’chezkel 34:12 reiterates this phrase (as if in dialog with the present text), though this time with a positive intent, and so we read: “For so says Adonai YHVH: Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out – uvikarteem, as the seeking out – kevakarat – of the shepherd of his flock in the day that he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out a’vaker - My sheep and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered …” (literal translation, italics added).

The final verse, which is similar to the opening verse of Parashat B’har (referring to Mount Sinai) seals off the Parasha, and indeed the book of Vayikra (Leviticus) with the words:  "These are the statutes which YHVH made between him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses" (v. 34 italics added).

1] New Studies in Vayikra, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman. Eliner Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Some of the word meanings were gleaned from:
The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980


Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

The root bet, vav, alef (b.o), as we noted above, is used in both the verb “to come” and “to bring”, while “lead” is of a similar root (a cognate) yod, bet, lamed (y.b.l). “Usury” in biblical Hebrew is very graphically connected to a dog’s  (“kelev”) bite (“neshech” - “ne’shicha”), and indeed in Modern Hebrew its usage is related only to this type of action by an animal.
Emphasis on the elements and the land and its potential blessings (of produce) in response to obedience, yields words such “eretz” – land, earth, ground – “geshem” – rain – and “chadash” and “yashan” – new (produce) and old (produce). By the way, “yashan” for “old” does not pertain to living beings, whether human or animals. “Revava”, “ten thousand”, which we encountered above, stems, as we noted, from the much used root r.v. (“rav” meaning “much” and “great), with “harbeh” – many – being very common in modern speech. In examining the rare term “keri” we encountered the verb “to happen” - “koreh” (with the infinitive being “li’krot”), which does not mean “to read” in spite of the similar sound (but different spelling). We will complete this week’s list with a “visit”.


If Muhammad will not come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Muhammad
Eem Muchamad lo yavo el ha’har, ha’har yavo el Muchamad

What will the day bring?
Ma ya’vee ha’yom? (literally, what will bring this day?)

If he leads the dog, the dog does not bite
Eem hu movil et ha’ke’lev, ha’ke’lev lo noshech

These dogs bite
K’lavim elu nosh’chim (literally, dogs these bite)
Much rain fell on the ground
Harbeh geshem yarad al ha’aretz

What’s new? What’s happening?
Ma chadash? Ma koreh?

The seeds (are) not new, they are old
Haz’ra’eem lo chadashim, hem ye’sha’nim

I am visiting Israel
Ani me’vaker be’Yisrael (masculine)
Ani me’va’keret be’Yisrael (feminine)

She is visiting Israel
Hee me’va’keret be’Yisrael

He is visiting Israel
Hu me’va’ker be’Yisrael




Thursday, May 7, 2020

Hebrew Insights into Parashat E’mor – Vayikra (Leviticus) 21 – 24 With Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use


Parashat Emor starts with (literal translation) “and spoke - va’yomer - YHVH to Moshe, ‘speakemor -  to the priests, the sons of A’haron’” (21:1). In both instances the verb used for “speak” is the same one, a.m.r (alef, mem, resh).

The topics with which Moshe was commanded to address the cohanim/priests had to do with their sanctity. The first of these deals with defiling themselves with the dead (v.1), although in Hebrew the word “dead” is missing, and can only be inferred from the context. Perhaps this is a linguistic device intended to illustrate the defilement of death, and thus is omitted (even) from the text. The titles of the previous two Parashot, together with this one, form the sentence: “after the death of the holy ones, say/speak…,” the “speaking” having to do, once again, with the topic of death. The opening of our Parasha seems, therefore, to pick off from the beginning of Parashat Acharey Mot (Lev. 16:1-2), which deals with the aftermath of the death of A’haron’s sons, elaborating on the necessary conduct required for the priests.  

Parashat Emor also contains the well-known chapter 23, which lists and specifies YHVH's appointed times. Chapters 21 and 22, on one end of the Parasha, deal respectively, as we have just seen, with the priests' conduct of holiness, the sanctity of the offerings and the handling thereof.  It is interesting to note the order; the sanctity of the priests ("they shall be holy to their Elohim", 21:6) is followed by the sanctity of the offerings (called "holy things", 22:3), followed by the sanctity of the appointed times (chapter 23).  The other end of the Parasha is made up of chapter 24, with its themes of the perpetual light ("ner ha'tamid" vs. 1-4), and the twelve loaves that were to be set on the gold table (vs. 5-9).  A brief account relating an episode during which YHVH's name was profaned,* as well as the resulting and immediate consequences, together with a series of instructions for penalizing measures applicable in similar cases and a variety of offenses, seal off Parashat Emor.

Chapter 23 is situated in the center of the Parasha, with verses 1 and 2 stating the following: “YHVH spoke again to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, YHVH's appointed times ["mo'adim"] which you shall proclaim as holy convocations [“mik'ra'ey kodesh”] - My appointed times are these…'" Here we encounter the important terms, “mo’adim” and “mikra'ey kodesh” (singular: “mo'ed” and “mikra kodesh”). Mo’ed stems from the root y.a.d (yod, ayin, dalet), which is "appoint, design or designate". Thus we read in Amos 3:3 (literal translation): "Do two men walk together unless it has been designated, or appointed for them [to do so]?" The conjugation of the verb implies that someone else was responsible for their meeting. 

“Mo'ed”, as we see in the text before us, is connected to a specific called-out and destined assembly, many times termed “e'dah” (originating in the same root), which gathers or convenes together. In 24:14 for example, the assembly, or “edah”, is told to stone an offender. In T’hilim (Psalms) 82:1, “Elohim takes His stand in His edah”.  The “appointed times”, therefore, relate to an appointed group of people. There are some who are of the opinion that the word for witness “ed” masculine, and “e’dah” (feminine) also originate from the same root. But there is more…

“Tent of [appointed] meeting” is “Ohel Mo'ed” (mentioned here in 24:3). A similar, though not identical term is found in T’hilim (Psalms) 74:4 and 8, where we read, “Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place… They have burned Your sanctuary". The renderings of “your meeting place” and "sanctuary" here are: “mo’ade’cha” and “mo'adey El”, literally "your appointed times” and appointed times of El”, making evident that Place and Time in the Hebrew mind are not always demarcated by a clear boundary. Our text reveals the “three-strand cord” of place, time and people, as it is held together by the sovereignty of the One who has appointed and chosen them, and who is responsible for bringing about their interactions one with the other. Finally, y.a.d is also to “establish a destiny”, and so we read in Romans 8:29-30: “Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son… Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called…” (italics added). In the Hebrew translation of the Greek text, “predestined” is rooted in “ya’ad”. Who are the ones whom He foreknew, predestined and called? As we have seen above (and will see later), the calling and appointing has been and are Yisrael’s, thus establishing again (in context with the above quote), that y.a.d refers not only to people, time and place, but also to an eternal destiny (past, present and future). “Eternity” or “for ever” is sometimes designated by the word “ad” (ayin, dalet), such as in Tehilim 48:14 (‘ever”). “Mo’ed”, with a slight alteration, will be rendered as “m’ad” – from eternity or “from of old” or “ever”, which takes us all the way back to creation, as in B’resheet 1:14 the “seasons” in the original text are rendered “mo’adim”.

The “holy convocations”, as mentioned, are “mikra'ey kodesh”, with singular being “mikra”. The root k.r.a (kof, resh, alef) makes up the verb “to call”, even though the "convocation" - the assembling - is made up of people. The calling, therefore, is what designates the “mikra kodesh”. In addition, these “holy convocations” are also the special times that are synonymous with “mo’adim”. And so, once again, the “calling” proves to be the common paradigm or ‘ingredient’ shared by the people and the appointed times during which they are to convene.

The first "appointed day" – the “Shabbat” - is also the prototype upon which all the others are established (ref. 23:3). It speaks of rest, trust, and faith directed toward the Heavenly Father (a topic we dealt with at length in Parashat Yitro – Exodus 18-20).

The mo’ed, which starts the annual cycle, is to be celebrated on the first month of the biblical calendar (the month of Aviv). The 14th day of that month is designated as YHVH's Pesach (Passover), whereas the next seven days are called the Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread).  The root p.s.ch (pey, samech, chet), which we examined in Parashat Bo (Exodus 10-13:16, in 12:11), means to “pass or skip over”.  The lamb’s blood was smeared on the Hebrews’ doorposts, thus covering and protecting the sons of Yisrael from YHVH's arm, which dealt severely with the Egyptians.  It was by virtue of that blood that YHVH “passed” or “skipped over” the dwellings of the Israelites. The wider scope of the principle set in motion here is the atoning blood of the Lamb of Elohim, that covers and protects the redeemed from sin’s death sentence.

Next is the Feast of Matzot, or Chag HaMaztot (plural of “matza,” which is a thin, wafer-like cracker baked without yeast). “Chag” is feast, whose root, ch.u.g (chet, vav, gimmel), means “to circle” (e.g. Ps. 107:27), thus pointing to the cyclical nature and annual reoccurrence of YHVH’s feasts and appointed times.  As we have already seen in Parashat Bo, the root m.tz.h (mem, tzadi, hey) means “to drain or squeeze out” to the very last drop of water.  Yeast can only be activated in an accommodating environment (that is, in water).  Since yeast, or leaven, is likened to the sin which leavens or puffs up the whole lump (ref. Gal. 5:9), water may be compared to the environment which enhances it. The "old leaven" (1 Cor. 5:8) being sin, in the form of the deeds of darkness (Rom. 13:12), wickedness (1st Cor. 5:13) and more, is removed as the redeemed are constituted "holy matzot; for Messiah, our Pesach [lamb who]… has been sacrificed" (1 Cor. 5:7).  Notice that aside from “matza”, unleavened bread is also called “lechem oni”, translated “bread of affliction” (Deut. 16:3). Yeshua, who is the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), was born in the House of Bread (Beit-Lehem) and was in Beit Onya (Bethany) - House of Affliction (John 12:1) - six days before He gave His disciples the bread (“matza”) representing His body (Luke 22:19).

"Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘when you enter the land… and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf [omer] of the BEGINNING/re’sheet of your harvest to the priest. And He shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it’" (23:9-11 literal translation, emphasis added). The first harvest (of barley) takes place very early in the spring. From Dvarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9 we learn that the picking is "from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing [barley] grain".  Because “omer” is also a measurement (one tenth of an epha), there is no question as to the amount of the "first of the harvest".  Thus, the priest was to wave those first (beginning-resheeet) sheaves before YHVH, "for your acceptance" - lir'tzon'chem (root r.tz.h – resh, tzadi, hey – meaning, “satisfy, favor”), after the Shabbat. This was totally fulfilled by Yeshua, who was in the beginning (ref. Gen. 1;1; John 1:1-2), and is declared to be the beginning and the end (ref. Col. 1:18; 1John 2:13-14; Rev. 1:8, 3:14, 21;6, 22:13).  Following His resurrection, which occurred after the Shabbat, He immediately went up to His Father (ref. John 20:17) to offer Himself on our behalf, thus rendering us acceptable. After that first barley harvest was cut, one was to wait for the day after the Shabbat and count seven weeks, making the 50th day a “mo'ed” which is tied intrinsically to the Counting of the Omer.

The land and its fruitfulness, or lack thereof, was to reflect Yisrael's relationship with YHVH, as it is "a Land for which YHVH your Elohim cares; the eyes of YHVH your Elohim are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year" (Deut. 11:12). The Cycle of the Feasts "from the beginning even to the end of the year" is partly designed for this purpose.  Thus, if the rains come in their due season, watering the ground which responds to the seed (ref. Hos. 2:21, 22), it can indicate that the Nation of Yisrael is walking with their Elohim, "who keeps for us the appointed weeks for the harvest" (Jer. 5:24).  In that case, all is well and the Counting of the Omer can begin. Conversely, the consequence of disobedience and sin is drought (Lev. 26:18-20, 26, for example), which means that there is no barley, no sheaves and nothing to count.  That, in turn, will affect the next mo'ed, which is Shavu'ot. The mo'adim, the Land and the relationship with the Almighty are all intertwined, making the life of the Hebrew person inseparable from his Elohim, his Torah, his land and community. The omer, therefore, affects the celebration of Shavu’ot. It also signifies total dependency on YHVH, and speaks of His control over the natural and spiritual causes, their conditions and aftermath.

On Shavu'ot the focus is on "a new grain offering to YHVH" (23:16), also termed "first fruits of the wheat harvest” (Ex. 34:22) called bikkurim, which is derived from the word “b'chor” – “firstborn”. Note that in the Hebrew bible this word does not appear in connection with the waving of the first barley sheaves (v. 10), where, as we noticed above, “resheet” (that is, “beginning” or "first", stemming from “rosh” – “head”) is used.  Interestingly, Yisrael is declared "holy to YHVH”, and like Yeshua is also called “the first - resheet - of His harvest" (Jer. 2:3).  Hence, both of these special times (the Counting of the Omer and Shavu'ot) are a reminder to Yisrael that as YHVH's firstborn (Ex. 4:22), they too belong to Him. The Feast of First Fruit (Bikkurim/Shavu’ot, see Ex. 34:22; Num. 28:26) has also been fulfilled by Messiah, when He sent the Spirit of Holiness so that we may be the “bikkurim” – the “first fruit” who were “brought forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). Shavu’ot’s two loaves that are baked with leaven (which are to be waved, 23:17,20), signify that YHVH’s two peoples, unlike His Son, can be still plagued by the power of sin.

Intertwined with this mo'adim ‘inventory’ is an important insertion, which lends another dimension to the feasts and to the life of the sons and daughters of Yisrael. It reads as follows: “When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien” (23:22 italics added). The reason given for this injunction, albeit a very short one summarizes it all: "For I am YHVH your Elohim". We found a similar injunction in last week’s portion (Kdoshim), in 19:9-10, which was preceded by the declaration: "You shall be holy for I YHVH your Elohim am Holy" (19:2). YHVH’s heart, His character and deeds express His holiness. He desires to bestow upon His people this kind of holiness, while they, in turn, are to live accordingly.

From the first month through the third - we now move to the seventh, which is replete with mo'adim, starting with the first day. (Rosh Chodesh - "head of the month", the usual term for the first day of the month, is not used here.) The "first day" of the seventh month is to be a “shabbaton”, a Shabbat-like day, and also a “mikra kodesh” - a "holy convocation" (23:24). It is to be a “zich'ron tru'ah”, that is, a day dedicated to remembering the “sound or a blast” (that was first heard on Mount Sinai, Ex. 19:16). Yet, “t'ruah” is a generic noun, thereby shrouding this mo’ed with some obscurity. The raising of human voices, or the blowing of a shofar (ram’s horn), or a silver trumpet can all produce the “t’ruah” sound. The combination of 'jarring' the communal memory and the emphasis on sound may also be in preparation for the tenth day of the month, the most solemn of all the feast days, “Yom HaKippurim”, literally "Day of the Atonements" (v. 27).  The sound of the alarm is intended, therefore, to help the People of Yisrael recall the greatness of their Elohim, His deeds and commandments, as well as their own responses and shortcomings. In other words, it is a call to self-examination leading to repentance. Since “tru'a” signifies a number of different calls and alarms (e.g. Num. 10:5, 6,9,10), “…blessed is the people who knows [understands, discerns] the “tru'a” [the specific sound and its intent]; O YHVH they walk in the light of your countenance!" (Ps. 89:15).

The Day of Atonement is a mikra kodesh, "on exactly the tenth day" (23:27) to commence on the previous evening (according to verse 32); and "it is to be a Shabbat Shabbaton" - a Shabbat of Shabbats.  What else singles out this day? In addition to a total cessation of labor, it is also to be a time of "affliction of the soul". To “afflict" here is “(ve)ee'ni'tem,” the root being a.n.h (ayin, noon, hey), shared by the adjectives “humility” or “self-denial”. Yisha’yahu (Isaiah) 58 clarifies for us the kind of affliction YHVH is referring to: "Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to afflict/humble [ah'not] himself? Is it for bowing one's head like a reed and for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to YHVH? Is this not the fast, which I choose: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor [ah’ni, the same root] into the house…?"  (vs. 5-7 emphases added). Thus, he who truly afflicts himself is not necessarily engaged only in ceremonial acts, but, rather, empathizes with the afflicted and comes to their aid. Lastly, a quick glance back to Pesach will remind us of the "bread of affliction" - lechem oni - literally "bread of affliction or humility", which is another name for the “matza” ,as we already noted above. Lechem Oni, therefore, is a fitting title for He who is the "Bread of Life", the Pesach's Matza, and who is also described in Z’char’yah (Zechariah) 9:9 as "humble - ah'ni - and mounted on a donkey".

The other aspect of the Day of Atonement, the “kippurim” or “kapara” of the root k.f.r (kaf, pey/fey, resh), with its primal meaning "to cover", we have examined a number of times (particularly in Parashat Noach – in Gen. 6:14). The ultimate sin-covering and subsequent forgiveness was epitomized in the life and atoning death of Yeshua, who became the final sacrifice and ransom for all (ref. 1 Tim.2:6).

We are still in the seventh month. On the 15th day, the Feast of Succot - Booths or Tabernacles - is to be celebrated for seven days. The first day is to be a holy convocation, on which no work is to be preformed. This feast is to be kept "when you have gathered in the crops of the land" (23:39), and is therefore another one of those special times, during which the Israelites are reminded of the connection that the Land and its produce bear to their relationship with Elohim. They are also enjoined to dwell in “succot” (“booths”) “…for seven days…so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt" (vs. 42, 43). After this mo'ed there is an eighth day, which aside from being a mikra kodesh, is also described as an “atzeret”, translated "solemn assembly" (v. 36). The root a.tz.r (ayin, tzadi, resh) means, "to restrain, hold back, refrain", as well as "to rule, possess and to check".  "Solemn", in reference to the "assembly" is no doubt a development of "restraint", denoting the importance of the day.

Succa” (singular for “succot”) stems from the root s.ch.ch. (sah'mech, kaflike Egypt did, kaf), meaning to “cover, protect or a (temporary) shelter”.  Its primal root is to “weave together" (for example, "You have woven me - tesukeni - in my mother's womb," Ps. 139:13). "Succa" is also a "thicket". Besides being translated as a literal shelter for men and animals, this word is used figuratively; especially known is the “fallen succa - dynasty - of David", which YHVH promises to restore (Amos 9:11, Acts 15:16). The "mercy seat" - kaporet - in the Holy of Holies was covered by the wings of the Cherubim, which are described as “covering the mercy seat with their wings” (Ex. 25:20). The term "covering" in this instance utilizes “soche'chim”, sharing the same root as “succa”.

While Succot brings together several aspects and reasons for all the other mo'adim, it also points to future events (hence Shmini Atzeret). Succot is the only feast that is followed by an eighth day (a day that stands on its own). A full (and prophetically complete) unit of days is always comprised of seven days. The eighth day, therefore, signifies a new beginning. The restoration of David's “dynasty”, or “house,” when compared to a succa clearly indicates that the Feast of Succot is yet to have an even greater fulfillment. On the day that, “the Branch of YHVH will be beautiful and glorious… there will be a succa to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain", is an exciting future promise found in Yisha’yahu (Isaiah) 4:2, 6. Being placed at the end of the cycle of the feast, the solemn eighth day points to that which is even beyond the feasts’ cycle… 

Shabbat, by commemorating the Creator’s work and His redemption of the Hebrews from bondage and their everlasting covenant, lays the foundation for the mo'adim; whereas the mo'adim illustrate the various phases of the life and path of faith.  At the same time Shabbat, being the epitome of rest and cessation of all self-effort, is also a foreshadowing of the coming Kingdom. Thus it represents, as well as stands for, the destination of the Believer's path, and hence is twofold; a foundation, but also a tangible image of the goal. In this way the Shabbat may be compared to Messiah Yeshua, in that He too is the foundation, the Root, as well as the Branch - both a Beginning and an ultimate Destination (ref. Revelation 22:16).

* The word used there for “profaned” is “yikov”(root k.v.v, kof, vet, vet) and means “to bore a hole”. Thus, as we saw last week, when examining the verb ch.l.l, which also means to “profane or desecrate”, such an act constitutes ‘hollowing out’ or ‘making empty’ (implying meaninglessness) of that which is of greatest import, seriousness, and sacredness.

Some of the word definitions were gleaned from:
The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, ed. Francis Brown, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980.                                            
Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, ed. Matityahu Clark, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, New York.1999.

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

In the past we have focused much on “daber” (d.b.r or d.v.r), being a common form of “speak” or “say” (and have looked at the many derivations of this root). In our Parasha it occurs several times as “speak” and “say”. However, this time we also meet up with “emor” (“say”, “speak” or “tell” imperative, second person, singular, masculine). The root a.m.r (alef, mem, resh) can be a reference to a more formal way of “speaking”, signifying a greater emphasis on one’s words. In Modern Hebrew it is often used as “tell”. In addition to “saying” and “speaking” our Parasha text also touches upon the verb “to call”, although in its noun form - “mikra” (translated “convocation”). In its infinitive form it is “li’kroh”, the root being k.r.a (kof, resh, alef). The Feast of Unleavened bread, mentioned in chapter twenty three’s  “mo’adim hall of fame”, is Chag Ha’matzot. “Chag” (or Hag or Khag) is the common reference to a feast or a holy day (of which we have no shortage…). “Acceptance” occurs several times in the current Parasha, but in Modern Hebrew “wanting” (not in a sense of “lacking”, but rather “desiring”) is “li’rtzot”, of the root r.tz.h (resh, tzadi, hey) and is of course used to a very great extent in everyday speech. Finally, we have put much emphasis on “resheet” (especially in order to underscore the fact that this is what the first of the barley harvest is named, making a direct connection to Yeshua”), and thus we will see how it is used in its modified form as “first”.

What are you (masculine) saying?
Ma ata omer?

What are you (feminine) saying?
Ma at omeret?

He is speaking with the child
Hu me’da’ber eem ha’yeled

She is speaking with the brother
He me’da’beret eem ha’ach

I am (masculine) saying: “(have) a joyful feast!”
Ani omer, “chag same’ach”

I am (feminine) saying: “this is Sunday”
Ani omeret, “hayom yom Rishon” (lit. day first)

What do you (masculine, plural) want?
Ma atem rotzim?

What do you (feminine, plural) want?
Ma aten rotzot?