Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Kdoshim – Vayikra (Leviticus) 19-20 with Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

"And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: `You shall be holy [plural -kdoshim], for I YHVH your Elohim am holy'" (19:1-2 emphasis added). The rest of this Parasha, like the previous one, constitutes a portrait of the 'holy’ or ‘set-apart’ Israelite, whose Elohim is Holy, a fact which could render him of the same status - as it says in Genesis 1:27: "So Elohim created man in His own image; in the image of Elohim He created him" (italics added).  In fact, in chapter 19, “I am YHVH” is repeated 15 times and is tagged to the various injunctions (with “your Elohim” being added in some of the cases). Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Lord Messiah Yeshua, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (italics added).

In contrast to most of YHVH's addresses in the previous Parashot we have been studying, here the “entire congregation of the sons of Israel” – kol ah’dat b'ney Yisrael (19:2), is being addressed on the matter of being as set-apart as their Elohim. We have here an assortment of directives, both of commission and omission. The penalties described (and mainly found in chapter 20), even if not exercised and carried out in our day and age, are indicators of the way YHVH views the transgressions to which they are appended.

The theme of Parashat Kdoshim is encapsulated in 20:24b-26: "I am YHVH your Elohim who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore distinguish (literally “separate”) between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you shall be holy to Me, for I YHVH am Holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine." This clearly illustrates the contaminating effect which the unclean has upon Elohim's People. At the same time, it highlights the separateness of those who belong to Him and who are rendered set apart by this fact. The single verb used here for “separate” and “distinguish” is “havdel” (b.d.l, bet, dalet, lamed), used 3 times in the creation account in B’resheet 1: in regards to the separation of the light from darkness (v. 4), the separation of the water above the firmament from the water below it (vs. 6,7), and in creating heaven’s lights that were to divide light from the darkness (vs. 14,18). Thus the usage of the root b.d.l points to the distinct category that YHVH had allocated for His people among other people groups, as well as to the way they were to conduct their daily life.

Going back to chapter 19, we will notice that most of the injunctions or clusters thereof end with "I am YHVH your Elohim." Thus, we read about reverence for father and mother and keeping the Shabbat. This is followed by a command to reject idols. The issue of peace offerings is succeeded by how one is to treat those less fortunate than one’s self (the poor and the sojourner), by leaving for them the gleanings of the fields and vineyards, for “… I am YHVH your Elohim." Theft, deception, lying and swearing falsely in YHVH's name are enumerated next. These constitute "profaning" His Name (vs. 8, 12, 29, in the latter, the translation says “do no prostitute”), which is “chalel” (ch.l.l., chet, lamed, lamed) meaning, “to make hollow or burrow,” and is also the root for "casualty" (such as in war). Dealing unjustly (a.sh.k – ayin, shin, kof, oppressing and stealing) with one's fellow man, cursing the deaf and putting a stumbling block in front of the blind, diverting justice in court, tale bearing and not taking responsibility when a friend's life is in danger, all are sealed by "I am YHVH." Obviously we are moving here into more subtle matters that may not be necessarily noticed by society at large, but will be seen by Him whose "eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth" (ref. 2nd Chr.16:9; Zech. 4:10b). This takes us to even deeper issues of the heart, such as, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart" (19:17).

"Brother," aside from its obvious meaning, could also relate to one's “fellowman,” just as do the following terms: "Associate" - amit (19:11, in the translation ‘one another,’ while in vs.15,17b the translation renders it as ‘neighbor’), and "re'ah," that is, “friend or fellowman” (again, more commonly rendered "neighbor" in the English translations. See 19:13,16,18). The utilization of these terms clarifies that ‘others’ are equal to one’s self, and therefore should be treated accordingly. In verse 17 there is also an instruction of commission, relating to the action that should be taken when the need arises to reprimand or rebuke one’s fellow man (rather than harbor hatred and bitterness in one’s heart). If "open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed” (Prov. 27:5), how much more does this apply when hate is the option? One is not to nurse vengeance nor bear a grudge against one's own people, logically leading to the highest dictum; that one is to love one's fellow man as one's self (v. 18), while in Hebrew the word used is “re’ah” – friend, associate. Again, this is sealed by "I am YHVH."

After the prohibitions regarding mixing of seeds and improper nuptials, chapter 19 continues with the tending of trees in YHVH's Promised Land - which for the first three years are to be considered  “uncircumcised” – “arelim,” and in the fourth are to be “praises to YHVH" -  “hiluleem” (ref. 19:23-25), and with prohibitions concerning all pagan idolatrous customs. "I am YHVH" seals these passages, and is also appended to the Shabbat’s observance and to the honor due the elderly. The next cluster deals with the sojourner, because of the Israelites’ own experience in Egypt. Chapter 19 ends with the injunction to utilize strictly honest and just measurements, as befitting a Nation of a just Elohim. "You shall observe all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them…" (v. 37) brings this chapter to a close, to which words we must append 18:5 (of the previous Parasha) “…which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am YHVH.”  It is no wonder, therefore, that the Renewed Covenant's mandate is to do just that – to enable His People to live out this Torah of Life (or life of Torah) through Him Who is the very Giver of Life.

Chapter 20 echoes chapter 18 (in Parashat Acharey Mot), in dealing largely with various forms of incest, forbidden forms of cohabitation, and abominable sexual practices, which are described by the phrase, “exposing the nakedness” (again, nakedness is tantamount to not having a “covering” – “kippur”). “Nakedness” here is “erva” of the root a.r.h. (ayin, resh, hey). A similar word, stemming from the root a.r.r (ayin, resh, resh) and means “stripped” and “childless” is “ariri” (e.g. Gen. 15:2; Jer. 22:30). Thus we read verses 20 and 21: “And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness - erva. They shall bear their sin. They shall die bereft of children – arireem. If a man takes his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing. He has uncovered his brother's nakedness - erva. They shall be childless - arireem” (italics added).  This makes evident the fruitlessness and lifelessness of sin, symbolizing the fact that sin results only in death (childlessness in this case).

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

This time we will focus on the “separation” – havdel – and look at a couple of its usages. Many are familiar with the “havdala” –  literally separation – service at the end of Shabbat to distinguish it from the weekdays. On Shabbat we particularly love to praise our Elohim, and so we’ll learn how to express in words this love.

After Shabbat Havdala is done
A’charey Shabbat oseem Havdala (lit. after Shabbat doing Havdala)

To differentiate between holiness and that which is not holy
Le’havdil beyn kodesh le’ma she’lo kadosh

We will praise Elohim on Shabbat
Ne’ha’lel et Elohim be’Shabbat


Hebrew Insights into Parashot Acharey Mot - Vayikra (Leviticus) 16-18 with Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

This week’s Parasha opening verse: "Now YHVH spoke to Moses after the death [“acharey mot”] of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew close to YHVH, and died" (Lev. 16:1, literal translation, emphasis added) underscores the combination of "drawing close" to YHVH and "death." Thus, in verse 2 we read, "Tell Aaron… not to come [just] at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die…” (italics added). This is the solemn introduction to the long and detailed account of the necessary preparation and sanctification process of the High Priest’s entrance to the Holy of Holies, culminating with: “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all… For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you that you may be clean from all your sins before YHVH. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever… This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year…" (16: 29-31, 34).

Without actually pronouncing the term it is, of course, the description of Yom haKippurim. But rather than commence with that special day, its purpose, timing and varying procedures, the text first deals with the needed course of action in relationship to the High Priest, while the theme of Yom haKippurim unfolds gradually and inductively ultimately bringing to light its goal. What is more, as we saw above, in this particular context the instructions are mentioned against the backdrop of the death of Ah’aron’s two sons, which enhances the seriousness and solemnity of the day, albeit without calling it by its explicit name.

The term “atonement” in its various forms (which includes “kaporet” – translated “mercy sit,” but in Hebrew is rooted in k.p.r – “to atone” or “cover” as we saw in Ex. 25:17), is repeated many times over in chapter 16, as is the blood of the atonement, with which many of the items mentioned were to be sprinkled. What is the purpose of sprinkling blood on inanimate objects? “So he shall make atonement for the Holy [Place], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel” (Leviticus 16:16, 19 italics added). In the process of carrying out the requirements for sin-atonement, the articles used had become contaminated by the sins of the people.

In 16:2 we encounter the expression “inside the veil - parochet - before the mercy seat - kaporet."  The veilparochet - is made up of the same letters as “kaporet.”[1] The rest of verse 2 says, "I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat - kaporet." Thus, the rendition of mercy seat and the veil in the same verse makes for an alliteration (kaporet and parochet), highlighting the connection of these two articles and the position of the mercy seat within the veil, where the High Priest may enter only under very strict and special conditions. “Parochet,” stemming from p.r.ch (pey, resh, kaf), means both “separating” and “covering” and together with “kaporet” points to the ‘cure’ for sin by the provision of the covering and the requirement of separation.

After readying himself and making a sin offering as atonement for his own person and household, the High Priest was to take two male goats, which he was to obtain from the congregation. These two were to be placed "in front of YHVH" at the opening of the Tent of Meeting where lots had to be cast for them, "one lot for YHVH and one lot for Aza'zel" (ref. 16:5-10). The goats mentioned here are “s'eerim” ("hairy ones," sa'eer = "hairy"). The casting of lots is "goral," which is of the root g.r.l. (gimmel, resh, lamed), meaning "stone or stony place," since the lots comprised of stones shaken after being put into a piece of cloth or a container [2]. Thus, in Matthew 27:35 we read the following about Yeshua: "Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, 'They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots'" (Ps. 22:18). In the same chapter of Matthew (v. 15-17 and 21b) we read the following:  "Now at the Feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Yeshua Bar Abba (Barabbas). Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Bar Abba, or Yeshua who is called Messiah?'… They said, 'Bar Abba!'" The verdict was pronounced. The goat on which YHVH's lot fell was to be a sin offering, as it is written: "Elohim by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3b).

The other goat was to be for Aza'zel (sometimes translated “scapegoat”). “Aza’zel” is a compound word, made up of the word “az” (ayin, zayin), meaning “strong,” but can also be read as “ez” – goat, and “azal” (alef, zayin, lamed) - “that which is used up,” or “is no more” or “gone” (see Mishley – Proverbs – 20:14). This goat that was “to be no more,” was sent to the wilderness by the hand of a suitable ("eeti," meaning “timely”; "et" = the "right or appointed time") person (ref. 16:21). Thus, Yeshua Bar Abba the criminal and counterfeit of Yeshua the Son of the Father, stood in proxy, as it were, for the goat that was allowed to live for the purpose of being sent to the wilderness, or “eretz grzera” ("land of separation," 16:22) with all the sins and iniquities.  The root g.z.r (gimmel, zayin, resh) is literally “to cut off, remove, decreed.”  And while it was decreed that the unrepentant Bar Abba would be cut off and removed from the Father with his sins (see Is. 59:2), Pilate was the timely person who facilitated the whole prophetic process and scenario.  Yet, it also says about the “Suffering Servant” of Yishayahu (Isaiah) 53:8:  “For He was cut off [nigzar] from the land of the living” (emphasis added). We see, therefore, that in spite of our above comparison of Yeshua and Bar Abba, respectively, to the two goats, Yeshua also fulfilled the role of the second goat, as is confirmed by 16:21: “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat...” (italics added). Yeshua Bar Abba, although partially fitting the role of the goat that was sent to the wilderness, definitely did not act the part of carrying vicariously sins and iniquities for the purpose of their removal.

Whereas chapter 16 began with a strong exhortation and command to the High Priest regarding time, place, and procedures of coming before YHVH, chapter 17 enjoins the ordinary people not to sacrifice according to their own whims, lest they should be suspect of sacrificing to idols, or be even led astray and carry out such acts. And so we read in 17:7: "They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot…" "Demons" here is “s'eerim,” again, the word that we have just encountered in the previous chapter for “male goats.” Goat worship prevailed in Egypt and it is thought that the demons worshipped there were in the form of male goats. [3] And as we see quite often in the Hebraic world and mindset - in the very essence of the transgression the solution is already provided (such as the word “chet” – sin – illustrates, with the same root forming a verb which means “purification”). Here we see that for the sin of serving the goat/demon – s’eer – a provision has already been made by the usage of two goats (s’eerim).

Parashat Acharey Mot is made up of four sections. Aside from the part which leads up to Yom haKippurim, and the section regarding the right place for the offerings, there are two more sections concerning the prohibitions of eating meat with blood (17:10-16), and incest (Ch. 18). In the four sections, all so different one from the other, one phrase is repeated like a refrain (see the italicized words in the following): "In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you" (16:29 italics added); "…this shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations. Also you shall say to them, ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice’…" (17:7-8 italics added); "And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger…” (17:15 italics added). Finally, "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you" (18:26 italics added).

"Stranger" is “ger,” and originates from the root “gur” (gimmel, vav, resh), meaning "to dwell, tarry, sojourn," as well as “to fear (see Ps. 22:23 for example: “fear Him all you offspring of Israel”). The stranger’s defenselessness and vulnerability may be a cause for fear (hence the oft repeated reminders as to the proper attitude toward him and the inclusiveness with which he is to be treated).

The last section of Parashat Ahcarey Mot deals, as mentioned, with the prohibitions against incest and other sexual offences. It is sandwiched between statements regarding the practices of the dwellers of the land which the Israelites have just left, and the practices in the land which they were about to enter (see 18:3, 24-25). We just observed that YHVH’s people were enjoined to include the strangers living among them, while here they are solemnly warned not to defile themselves with that which their neighbors were defiling themselves (v. 27). We see here a fine line between including the ones who choose to come into the households of Yisrael, and between keeping firm and clear boundaries of separation from other non-Israelites. 

According to Torah, when one comes in contact with anything which is (ritually) unclean, one is contaminated by it. The converse, however, is not true; i.e., coming in contact with that which is holy does not necessarily make one holy. The land, therefore, by reason of the practices of its inhabitants would be subject to spiritual contamination with the resulting consequences that “… the land [will] vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you" (18:28). The following Parasha (Kdoshim) closes off with the same warning, as part of the command to stay separate (ref. 20:22).

Finally, in 16:30 we read: "For on this day He [some translations replace “He” with “the priest”] shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you; for all your sins, before YHVH you shall be cleansed," or “before YHVH you shall be purified,” or “before YHVH you shall purify yourselves.” Here is a fervent call to appropriate by faith the atonement enacted by the Almighty, and thus to receive the fulfillment of His promise. However, without the High Priest, first and foremost, complying implicitly with all of YHVH’s instructions this could not be achieved.[4]                                         
[1]  Notice the "k" and "ch" here denote the same letter, i.e. "kaf".
[2] The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown Hendrickson.
     Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.
[3] Online Bible, Gill Commentary
[4] Thirty verses relay the High Priest’s orders, versus one verse with instructions for   
      the people.

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

Our Hebrew Tools this time are congruent with the Parasha, and are therefore centered on “death”, which is “ma’vet” in Hebrew. So without further ado, let us take a look at our short sentences.

After death
A’charey ha’ma’vet

He died
Hu met

She died
He metta

After his death
A’charey moto

After her death
A’charey motah


Hebrew Insights into Parashat Metzo’rah – Vayikra (Leviticus) 14 – 15 with Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

Parashat Metzo'rah forms a sequel to Parashat Tazri'a and is defined by the words: "the Torah of the leper for the day of his cleansing" (Lev. 14:2).  Just as it was the priest who diagnosed the state of leprosy, it is only he who could now determine if "the affliction - or plague - of leprosy is healed" (v. 3 literal translation, emphasis added). This “affliction” or “plague” (which some of the English translations omit and in others it is “plague” or “infection”) is “nega.” It stems from the root n.g.a (noon, gimmel, ayin), with the primary meaning being "to touch." The most famous 'touch' in Scripture that had a significant influence on all the afflictions we are dealing with here is found in B’resheet (Genesis) 3:3:  "But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, Elohim has said, `You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die'" (italics added). The Children of Yisrael were likewise charged not to touch Mount Chorev (Ex. 19:12,13). The root n.g.a is found also in Yisha’yahu (Isaiah) 53:4 and 8, where it says about Messiah, "We esteemed Him stricken [nagu'ah], and "for the transgressions of My people He was stricken [nega]" (emphasis added). Thus, His affliction on our behalf becomes the healing touch for all of our “n’ga’eem” (afflictions), which were brought forth by the initial ‘touch’ of the forbidden fruit in the Garden.

Referring back to the person being cleansed… It is now incumbent upon him to take two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop for his offering. One of the birds was to be killed in an earthen vessel over “living” ('running,' in English) water. The living bird is to be taken with the cedar wood, the scarlet and the hyssop, all of which are to be dipped in the blood of the dead bird, over “living” ('running') water (ref. 14:4-6). Interestingly, "living" is mentioned four times in this short passage. "Scarlet" in Hebrew is “tola'at shani,” which is literally a "worm of scarlet" (i.e. the worm from which the dye was extracted). Incidentally, in Parashat F’kudey (Ex. 38:21-ch. 40) the term “worm of scarlet” – tola’at shani – was rendered scarlet thread – signifying the blood of the atonement and was mentioned along with the gold, the blue and the purple. Yet here, the worm may denote a very humble status (e.g. Ps. 22:6; Is. 41:14). “Hyssop” is the translation (actually a form of transliteration) of “ezov,” symbolic one of the lowliest plants, especially when compared to the cedar. In Mlachim Alef (I Kings) 4:33 we read: "…from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall." In contrast to the worm and the hyssop, the cedar symbolizes grandeur and eminence.

Next, the earthen vessel also connotes humility (e.g. "we have this treasure in earthen vessels" 2nd Cor. 4:7). Whether this combination of the lowly with the lofty denotes different types of individuals, or whether it is pointing to the characteristics within the individual (who is to reform from the sin of pride and haughtiness and become humble and submissive), is an issue that has been hotly debated. However, regardless of the answer to this question, for cleanliness to be declared the bird's blood must be sprinkled seven times on the person undergoing the purification.

In the course of this cleansing process, the priest had to go outside the camp to the place where the afflicted person was quarantined (14:8). In the previous Parasha we noted that the phrase "outside the camp" (“the city” or “the gate”), has a dual connotation. In Vayikra (Leviticus) 4:12 and 6:11, there was "a clean place outside the camp." Here in 14:40, 41, and 45 reference is made to "an unclean place outside the city." Both places are singled out, and are in fact related. The priest who goes outside the camp comes in contact with the unclean, or afflicted person, much like our High Priest who (in order to cleanse us) had to come to our contaminated world so that we could join Him "outside [His] camp" (ref. Heb. 13:13).

On the “eighth day,” after the seven day watch (ref. 14:23) and the concurrent bodily purging, the person undergoing the cleansing comes forth with his offerings. Notice, this selfsame individual goes through a ritual similar to the dedication for service of A’haron and his sons (cf. Ex. 29:20,21; Lev. 8:23, 24). And thus we read: "The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot… And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the trespass offering” (14:25-28). Atonement is thus granted, as well as anointing for 'hearing,' 'doing,' and 'walking' (see Hebrew Insights into Parashat Tetzaveh, Ex. 29:20).

Since quite a substantial offering was being expected of the person being cleansed, provision was made "if he is poor and cannot afford it…" (14:21). "Cannot afford" is expressed by a typical picturesque idiom, "his hand is unable to reach," as "hand reaching" (of this type) denotes financial well being.  "To reach," stemming from the root n.s.g (noon, sin, gimmel), also means "to pursue, or overtake."

"When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give [“natan”] you as a possession, and I put [literally “give”, natan ] the leprous plague [“nega,” referred to above] in a house in the land of your possession…" (14:34), is a non-ambiguous declaration that shows clearly that the cause of the “nega” (which, as we noticed above was not a mere natural phenomenon) is YHVH Himself. Do take note - the above is dealing specifically with a built up structure. The usage of the verb “natan,” employed here twice for “give” and "put," reinforces both YHVH's involvement in the matter, and the fact that He is also its primary cause.

A house so plagued is to be "emptied out" of its content (14:36).  “Pina” - of the root p.n.h (pey, noon, hey, meaning "to turn"), is the verb used here.  In Parashat Trumah (in Ex. 25:20), we have already encountered p.n.h, in relationship to the "showbread" ("bread of the face") and the faces of the cherubim placed on the Ark of the Covenant. In the course of "emptying out" the house there is a “turning” - that is, "making way" and by implication a “clearing” or an “emptying out." The act of emptying out one's house (and taking it apart, if need be, 14:40-45) has a further symbolic meaning. We thus read in 2Corinthians 5:1: "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from Elohim, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." According to Midrash Rabba 17:7: "And I will put the plague of tza'ra'at in the house of the land of your possession (14:34) - this refers to the Temple." Here is what Malbim, citing another source, has to say about this very thing: "The use of the term venatati [“and I will give”] regarding tza'ra'at prompted Rabbi Yehuda to consider the plague in a positive light as a medium for the elimination of sin and iniquity". [6] However, this passage not only deals with the tza'ra'at which pertains to buildings, but also with the type which affects clothing (v. 55), while mentioning other related conditions, namely "a scale, a swelling, a scab, and a bright spot" (ref. 14:54, 55).

"Scale" is “netek,” from the root n.t.k (noon. tav, kof), meaning “to pull off, draw, disconnect, or remove." Ee’yov (Job) laments: "…my purposes are broken off – “nitku”…” (Job 17:11 italics added). And again in Jeremiah, "my tent is plundered, all my chords are broken…” (10:20, italics added). The swelling is called “s'et,” of the root n.s.a (noon, sin, alef), meaning "to lift, carry or hold up." S'et, as such, according to B.D.B Lexicon is "exaltation, dignity or swelling". [7] Ee’yov (Job - 41:25), speaking of Leviathan, says: "When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid" (italics added). “Scab” is the translation of “sapa'chat,” which is of the root s.f.ch (samech, fey, chet), meaning "to join, or add." It can also refer to that which is overgrown. In Chavakuk (Habakkuk) 2:15 we read, "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, joining him to your wineskin, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!” (Italics added). Finally, the "bright spot" is “baheret,” of the root b.h.r (bet, hey, resh), which means "bright or brilliant," used almost exclusively in relationship to a physical condition. However, one reference in Ee’yov (Job) 37:21 seems to indicate a light so bright that men cannot look at it.

Lining up the terms, according to their respective connotations, will create the following picture: A breaking or removal (possibly from the Almighty) will lead to the attitude of loftiness resulting in rebelliousness and pride, followed by wrong attachments. From there the path is open to what may appear as an effulgence, but is actually nothing more than a blinding false light. The entire body of instructions is finalized by the words: "…to teach on the day of the unclean, and on the day of cleansing; this is the Torah of the tza'ra'at" (14:57, literal translation). Thus, this long passage, which starts in verse 34, is solely for the purpose of teaching (“le'horot”) the Torah (as it pertains to the issue at hand). Torah impartation, therefore, is what it takes to counteract the sequence portrayed above and its dismal results.

The next section of the Parasha (chapter 15) deals with unclean discharges omitted by the body (which are the natural outcome of the sequel of conditions described above). "This was an emblem of the corruption of nature, and of all evil things that are in or flow out of the evil heart of man, which are defiling to him"[8] (see Mat. 15:18).

"If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity [her regular menstrual cycle], or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean [for as long as she has the discharge]… Whoever touches those things [which she has handled] shall be unclean…" (15:25, 27). This injunction makes the episode recorded in the Gospels, of Yeshua healing the woman with the issue of blood, most remarkable (ref. Matt. 9:19-22; Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48)! Yeshua does not appear to be alarmed by the fact that an unclean woman has touched him. In fact, He does not even refer to her as such. As much as Yeshua respected the regulations of Torah (being the Torah incarnate), it was the Torah of Life and NOT the “letter” which He advocated and practiced. Yeshua ministered the life of the (Re)New(ed) Covenant, as defined by 2nd Corinthians 3:6: A "new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."

Toward the end of Parashat  Metzora we read: “So you shall cause the sons of Israel to be estranged – vehizartem, root of zar, stranger, foreigner - from their uncleanness, so that they do not die in their uncleanness when they defile My dwelling place that is among them” (15:31, literal translation). As those who form the abode of YHVH, the Israelites are to be “strangers” to uncleanliness. These words truly encapsulate the spirit of the Torah injunctions - a spirit that the Elohim of Yisrael wishes to bestow upon His people.

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

[2]  The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown Hendrickson.   
      Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.

[3] Gill Commentary, Online Bible

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

The “nega” – affliction – that we examined above is connected, as was mentioned, to the verb “to touch” – la’ga’at. A plagued house was to be emptied out, with the verb used there being the same one that one which is in use today. The noun evacuation, emptying out etc. is pin’nuy.  We already had “horim” – parents – in our of our previous Tools. In the Parasha’s text we encountered “to teach” – le’horot – from which comes “ho’ra’ah” which is “instruction”. Another verb in the Parasha is “natan” – to give. Let’s see how all of those work together.

Don’t touch!
Lo la’ga’at (literally not to touch)

Before the evacuation they gave instructions
Lifney ha’pinuy hem natnu ho’ra’a 


Hebrew Insights into Parashat Tazri'a –Vayikra (Leviticus) 12-13 with Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

Aside from dealing with the purification rites of a post birth woman, the beginning part of Parashat Tazri'a also touches on the eighth day circumcision (12:3). Last week's Parasha was called "Shmini," meaning "eighth."  And while the bulk of Parashat “Tazri'a” deals with regulations of "tzarat" (leprosy and other skin conditions) it is the next Parasha which bears the name of the leper ("Me'tzorah"). Thus, even when there appears to be no connection between two successive Parashot (plural of Parasha), one is often threaded into the other, even if very loosely. However, that is not true of Parashat Me'tzorah, which forms a sequel to Parashat Tazri’a and is in fact very closely related to it.

"If a woman conceives seed [literal translation] and gives birth to a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days…" (12:2). "Conceives seed" - "tazri'a," after which our Parasha is named, is a very unusual form, since its root word "zera" - z.r.a. -  (zayin, resh, ayin) is "seed" or "semen" (and by implication also "offspring"). S.R. Hirsch translates it: "When a woman has matured a human germ…" and goes on to comment: "Germ, basically the seed of plants and hence herb-yielding seed (Gen. 1:11), the seed-forming activity of plants for the continuation of their species, when applied to human beings is the usual term for the offspring by which Man continues his generation.  By the use of the expression "tazri'a" here, which only occurs in B’resheet (Genesis) 1:11 and 12, referring to the activity of plants for the continuation of their species, the mother's role in producing progeny is looked at in the purely material physical character of its physiological process. Thus with one word the whole idea of the uncleanness, spoken of here, is shown"][1][  In this manner Hirsch also provides one of several answers to the question, "Why should a mother be declared 'unclean' for fulfilling a Divinely-ordained mission?" The sages especially question the need for a sin offering. ][2][  The expression "tazri'a," however, brings to mind not only B’resheet (Genesis) 1:11 and 12, as Hirsch points out, but is also reminiscent of the usage of the term "zera," “seed” in B’resheet 3:15, where there is reference to the "Seed of the woman" Who is destined to crush the head of the serpent. Thus, by one word the “purely material physical character” of birth is singled out and at the same time, its contrast – by an allusion to the future “Seed of Woman.” The seven initial days of the woman's "impurity" mentioned here, are comparable to the week of impurity during the menstrual cycle.

"When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting" (12:6). The burnt offering, according to some of the sages, was a token of thankfulness to the Almighty for having preserved her through the labor pains and hazards, and for having been granted the strength to bear a child. "The new life within her made [the mother] deeply conscious of the greatness of the creator, as also of her insignificance as 'dust and ashes' and impurity; hence the need for a sin-offering."][3][

The sin offering may be linked to the fact that we are "brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Ps. 51:5), as expressed by David. He was not pointing out to his mother as a sinner for having conceived him, but emphasized the fact that man's sin nature is hereditary, and simply passes through the bloodline. The fact that it is transmitted from generation to generation is illustrated by what we have already observed, that contained in man is the seed for the perpetuity of his (sinful) race, and thus the fruit will resemble the parent plant. The unusual usage of "tazri'a" could therefore be the clue to unraveling the 'mystery' of the mother's "impurity" after giving birth, and the requirement of a sin offering. Incidentally, Miriam, Yeshua's mother, did likewise (ref. Luke 2:24), even though her son's conception had been totally different. In this case, following the Torah ruling was most likely performed in the same vein as Yeshua's immersion, which was for the purpose of "fulfilling all righteousness" (Mat. 3:15). The usage of "seed" in connection to bearing an offspring, therefore, underscores the heredity nature of sinfulness. But the "Seed of the woman" (Gen. 3:15) is a reminder that the sinless Seed will likewise be propagated after His own kind.

In one breath with the birth of "a male," mention is also made of the eighth day circumcision (12:3). When we reviewed Parashat Shmini mention was made of the significance of the figure “eight” which stems from the root sh.m.n, being the root for “fat” (hence “oil - shemen"), following the fullness of seven ("sheva"), thereby indicating an overabundance (at times with negative connotations, such as "and Yeshurun waxed fat…" Deut. 32:15, emphasis added). The eighth day circumcision also indicates that it takes precedence over Shabbat, and a child who is born on Friday, notwithstanding, will be circumcised on the following Shabbat. In this regard, take note of the connection between the “seventh” and the “eighth” day.

Having just encountered the “seed conceiving” woman, we are now looking at the act of circumcision, which denotes the covenant in the flesh marking the organ of procreation, so that the seed (“zera”) issuing forth would be ‘enrolled’ in the process of redemption from the hereditary sin that we have just noted.  If “tazr’ia,” as used for a woman, is indicative of the perpetual seed of sin, then circumcision is the beginning of the solution to the problem of the inbred sin in the present condition of man. This sign of the covenant, being applied to the organ of procreation foreshadows the entire removal of sin by the spiritual circumcision (of the heart), aimed at the circumcised seed which is the recipient of the ‘chain’ of covenants of promise -  all the way to the ultimate one. In the same way that the ‘covenant-marked’ seed (still) comes forth sin-ridden, it will one day come forth in the image and likeness of its Creator.

The next part of the Parasha (chapter 13) is also devoted to issues of purity and impurity, this time relating to skin diseases, as well as to contaminated houses and clothes. Since dealing with this variety of conditions was up to the priests' discernment, they are the ones mentioned, and it is therefore A'haron who is addressed here (whereas he was not mentioned in the first part of the Parasha). The various conditions described and elaborated upon all come under the general heading of "tza'ra'at" (tz.r.a, tzadi, resh, ayin). Another word which shares the same root is "tzir'ah," meaning “hornet.” Both "tza'ra'at" and "tzir'ah" appear to be used symbolically, as we see for example in Shmot (Exodus) 23:28: "And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you" (for a similar reference to hornets refer to Deut. 7:20 and Josh. 24:12).

The root tz.r.a (tzadi, resh, ayin) means “project outward.” If the sins committed resulting in this affliction, are mostly committed in secret, then this condition reveals them, whether on one’s body, clothing or home. The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon defines the root verb "tza'ro'a" as "to throw down, prostrate, humble oneself"][4][. The various forms of "tzara'at" certainly placed the one declared as contaminated in a humbling, if not a humiliating state, described in verses 45 and 46: "Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, `Unclean! Unclean!' He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp." The word for "unclean" is "tameh" (t.m.a, tet, mem, alef) with its literal meaning being "ritually polluted." 

The concept, "outside the camp," like many others in Scripture, is twofold. Whereas here the "tameh" is separated from the community, in Shmot (Exodus) 33:7, after the Golden Calf episode we read: "Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought YHVH went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp" (italics added). Likewise, in Hebrews 13:12-13: "Therefore Yeshua also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach."

The latter part of chapter 13 deals with “tzra’at” as it contaminates leather or clothes (vs. 47-59). Several times mention is made of “sh’ti  va’erev,” that is, the “warp and woof” of the cloth (the threads woven lengthwise and crosswise respectively). The woof which is threaded through the warp is thought of as being “mixed in,” and is therefore designated by the well known term “erev” (ayin, resh, vet), that we have been following in many instances, but primarily in the word for “evening,” which is a state of light being mixed with darkness.

Nechama Leibowitz concludes: "According to most commentators tzara'at is not a common disease, but supernatural infliction by Divine Providence through which man is reminded of his sinful ways, and called upon to abandon them". The appended footnote says: "It is noteworthy that medical research fails to associate the Biblical tzara'at with any known disease. Its diagnosis as leprosy is rejected by modern medicine." Earlier on the commentator pointed out that plagues in general had a special role as warning signs against sinful behavior [5], or were its consequences (e.g. 2nd Sam. 24:1, 15; 2 Ch. 26:16-21).

[[1] ]   New Studies in Vayikra Part 1, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman. Eliner  
        Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books Inc.,       
        Brooklyn, N.Y.
]2[  Ibid
]3[  Ibid
]4[   The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown Hendrickson,   
       Publishers  Peabody, Mass. 1979.
]5[   New Studies

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

Parashat Tazri’a’s yield in terms of the Modern language is summed up in
3 terms – seed, oil/fat and mixture. Let us see what we can do with this small

This seed is good
Ha’zerah ha’zeh tov (lit. the seed this is good)

The seeds are mixed
Ha’zra’eem me’ur’ba’vim

The oil is mixed
Ha’she’men me’ur’bav

The man was fat
Ha’eesh ha’ya sha’men


Hebrew Insights into Parashat Shmini – Vayikra (Leviticus) 9 - 11 with Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

"It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel" (Lev. 9:1). "Shmini," translated “eighth,” denotes a new beginning. The previous Parasha ended with A'haron and his sons being charged to "not go outside the door of the tabernacle of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are ended. For seven days he shall consecrate you" (8:33). And again in 8:35: “Therefore you shall stay at the door of the tabernacle of meeting day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of YHVH…" Thus, on the eighth day A'haron was to "take… a calf as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before YHVH" (9:2). It is no mistake or coincidence that on this eighth day, symbolic of departure from the 'former things,' A'haron, who had played a major role in the golden calf episode, was to offer, first and foremost, a calf. This offering is rendered a cut off mark, in the course of which "all the congregation drew near and stood before YHVH" (9:5 emphasis added). In this way the atonement was fully made (see v. 7, and then all the way to v. 22) and YHVH's relationship with Yisrael could be restored.

Following this procedure, as specifically prescribed by YHVH, resulted in “… the glory [kavod] of YHVH appear[ing] to all the people" right after Moshe and A’haron blessed the people (v. 23). According to Nechama Leibowitz, "The revelation of the Divine glory here denotes a reward for their efforts in erecting a Sanctuary for the Shekina".[1] “And fire came out from before YHVH and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. And all the people saw it, and they shouted and fell on their faces" (v.24). These sin offerings, therefore, became a demarcation point, separating sinfulness and profanity from YHVH's Holiness and Glory. The motif of the holy or clean versus the profane or the unclean is threaded throughout this Parasha, as we shall continue to observe.
 When the above described scene reached its peak, with "fire [coming] out from before YHVH… consuming the burnt offering…," as we just observed, we are suddenly transferred without as much as a breather into the next one, with its parallel yet contradicting elements. And so we read in 10:1 about A’haron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, taking censors and putting fire and incense on them, which YHVH had "not commanded them." Theirs was a fire of their own making ("zara" - foreign, strange, of a different kind), which they brought near before YHVH, and "so fire went out from YHVH and devoured them" (v. 2). When the Children of Yisrael and their leaders did as they were commanded (ref, 9:10) and drew near to YHVH, His fire consumed the offering and He showed them His Glory. But when Nadav and Avihu brought near that which YHVH did not command, the consequence was that a fire went out from Him, but consumed them (ref. 10:1-2). The similar terms used to describe both episodes make for a sinister symmetry, one that demonstrates that often there may be but a fine line which separates the holy from the profane, the desirable from the detestable. An example of contrasting terms, that serve to highlight certain situations is seen in 9:24, where we read that the people "shouted" - (va)yaronou - joyfully. In contrast, after Nadav and Avihu's sad annihilation, it says that A'haron was utterly silent, or even motionless - (va)yidom – root of d.o.m (ref. 10:3). In Psalm 94:17, the expression "dwelling in silence" ("shachna duma”), denotes death. In Psalm 115:17 it is written: "The dead do not praise YHVH, nor any who go down into silence" (duma, once again).

     "By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified" (10:3) is the explanation as to why Nadav and Avihu, because of their lofty positions, had to be totally obedient to YHVH and could not misrepresent him as they had done. In fact, they are called here by YHVH "k'rova'i" - those who are close (or near) to Me - and as such, YHVH was to be rendered holy" ("eka'desh") by, or through them.  In addition, their actions were supposed to glorify YHVH causing others to also do so, with "eka'ved" being the term used, meaning literally "heavy," and by implication "highly esteemed."

In the second part of chapter 10, Moshe instructs A'haron and his two "remaining sons" (v. 12) to not display any signs of mourning. On the other hand, the rest of Yisrael was given permission to "bewail the burning which YHVH has kindled" (v. 6, italics added). Interestingly, the “burning” here is not attached to the particular individuals, neither to human beings in general or even to death. The word used, which sounds so dreadfully detached, is "s'refa," meaning "burning” or “to burn." It appears that emphasis is put here on the calamity inflicted by YHVH, with the priests being expected to identify with His approach (hence His strict orders to them not to display signs of mourning over the death of their relatives), whereas the “whole house of Israel” were allowed to “bewail the burning”. In addition, the priests were to remain inside the tent (cf. 8:33,35, mentioned above) as long as YHVH's anointing oil was on them, and were also prohibited from drinking wine and intoxicating drink in the course of their service in Ohel Mo'ed ("Tent of Meeting", 10:6-9). This latter requirement led some commentators to surmise that YHVH's anger against Nadav and Avihu was kindled because they may have been inebriated while ministering. The purpose for these measures was, so “that you [i.e. the priests] may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which YHVH has spoken to them by the hand of Moses" (v. 11). But in order to be able to do so they had, according to verse 10, to "…distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean." It is this verse which encapsulates or summarizes the motif (as mentioned above) of the entire Parasha.

In the following section (10:12-20), Moshe reproves A'haron and his remaining (“nota'rim”) sons, El'azar and Itamar, for not having eaten the remaining (“noteret”) offering, which was rightfully theirs. Instead, they burned the goat for the sin offering ("soraf," v. 16 – identical word to the “fire” mentioned in 10:6 above, which consumed Nadav and Avihu), making a fire of their own and getting rid of that which they were supposed to consume. In trying to be over cautious, they too were not fully obedient to the instructions of YHVH. Here we hear A'haron expressing himself for the first time after the loss of his two sons, a loss he refers to tersely as, “such things [that] have befallen me" (v. 19), and wondering if the eating that was required “would have … been good - (ha)yitav - in the eyes of YHVH. And Moses heard and it was good - (va)yitav - in his eyes" (vs. 19-20). The echoing of A'haron's "good" in Moshe’s response seems to indicate that harmony may have been restored at long last.

Our Parasha clearly brings out the role of the priests in the Israelite society, and their view of their office. S.R. Hirsch elaborates on this issue: "The Hebrew priest is part of the nation, and his position is not an isolated one before God, but one that he occupies only within and through the nation….” Regarding the sacrifices and their function relative to the Almighty and to the worshipper, he says: “The closeness of and approach to God… may only be found through obedience to and acceptance of God's will…  The offering means to place the offerer at God's service, i.e., he wants to fulfill God's wishes through his offering. All offerings are therefore forms of Divine demands which the offerer, through his offering, accepts as the guidelines for his future conduct."[2]
In line with the theme of separating the clean from the unclean, the rest of the Parasha (chapter 11) is devoted to the type of animals, fish and fowls permitted for consumption, as well as to those that are forbidden. It is interesting that verses 4-7 constitute a list of four animals, all of which have one of the two traits required, but are devoid of the other. However, the first trait mentioned in all four cases happens to be the one that fulfills the requirement, whereas the specification of the missing one is second. The lesson to be learned here is simple:  even though things may seem 'right' or 'proper' at first sight, they should be investigated further, lest deception sets in (e.g. notice the order of adjectives in the title of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). The above tragic scene, with Nadav and Avihu, A’haron’s sons, who may have had ‘good’ intentions, illustrates this point even more poignantly. YHVH’s holiness and His charge upon His people, to be “set apart as He is,” cannot to be measured by human standards of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and requires unquestionable obedience.

"You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them, for I am YHVH your Elohim. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy, for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth, for I am YHVH who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your Elohim. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (11:43-45). The Israelites were separated for YHVH’s sake by being brought out of Egypt, the land of bondage, where they belonged to someone else (whose servants they were). Now, however, they belonged to their Maker. They were, therefore, to reflect His nature of holiness.

Aligning themselves with their Elohim and His ways is what makes the Israelite Nation a "holy nation." Partaking of that which is abominable in His sight or even coming into contact with it renders those who choose to do so just as abominable - "sheh’ketz." “You shall not make yourselves (lit. “your soul”) abominable – teshak’tzu” - with any creeping thing that creeps” (v. 43).  The "abomination (of desolation)" in Daniel 11:31 and 12:11 employs the same word, with a certain modification (“shikutz”).

Our Parasha, quite characteristically, ends with a clear reminder of its theme: “to distinguish, [or separate], the unclean from the clean…" (v. 47).

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

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

This time we will make use of the “strange fire” in the Parasha text and extract from it the term “zar” which is “foreigner” (feminine “zara”) and the verb for burning.  Above we encountered the adjective “good”. Let’s see how we can use this very common word in everyday speech.

The foreigner (female) burnt a chair/chairs
Ha’zarah sarfa kiseh/kis’ot

The foreigner (male) burnt a table/tables
Ha’zar saraf shul’chan/shul’cha’not

These foreigners (males) are good
Ha’zarim ha’e’le tovim (lit. the foreigners these are good)

These foreigners (females) are good
Ha’zarot ha’e’lu tovot (lit. the foreigners these are good)

It is well with me
Tov lee (lit. good to me)

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Tzav – Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:8 - 8 (Hebrew Scriptures 6-8) with Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

"Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘this is the law of the burnt offering…’” (Lev. 6:9), are YHVH's words to Moshe at the beginning of our Parasha, named after the imperative form for “command” - "tzav." "The law (of the burnt offering)" is rendered "torah," making the usage of this word here, “binding instructions.” This is one of several examples of the way this multi-faceted term is utilized. But before attending to the subject matters included in the Parasha, let us pause and look at an all important word that appeared three times in last week’s Parashat Vayikra (in Lev. 4:3, 5, 16, being its first appearing in Scripture), and once in ours (6:22). This word is “mashi’ach,” translated “anointed.” In Hebrew, however, there is a clear distinction between “anointed” in verb form (such as in 6:20), which is literally “to coat with oil,” as well as the adjective form such as in Sh’muel Bet (2nd Samuel) 3:39 where David declares:And I am weak today, though anointed (“mashu’ach”) king,” AND the noun: “Mashia’ch.”  In order to illustrate the difference we can take, for example, the verb “to appoint.” An “appointed person” is an adjective, whereas “appointee” is classified as a noun. Similarly, “mashi’ach” is not someone who has been merely smeared or coated with oil, whether for a singular function or several functions, or even for a permanent position or calling. “Mashi’ach’s” function and nature, his very being, are embodied in his person. And even though this term was used regarding the priests (or the people of Yisrael -  “m’shi’chim” – plural, in Ps. 105:15), these were obviously not The Messiah.  Yet this rendering was employed with the long term view to the coming of the one and only “Mashi’ach” –  the Anointee, if you will.    

Back to the Parasha’s topics, with the main one being the listing of the various sacrifices/offerings, with added specifications. The interaction and connection that exists between them is one more feature introduced in this Parasha. Thus, we read about the meal offering - "mincha" (6:17b): “It is most holy, like the sin offering, and like the guilt offering" (italics added). In verse 25, it says about the sin offering ("chatat"): "This is the law [torah] of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before YHVH" (italics added). Likewise, regarding the guilt offering ("a'sha'm"): “In the place where they kill the burnt offering, they shall kill the guilt offering" (7:2, italics added), and again in 7:7: "As a sin offering is, so [is] a guilt offering. One law [torah] is for them. The priest who makes atonement by it, it is his" (italics added).

In summation, the meal offerings' holiness is identical to that of both the sin and guilt offerings, all of which are denoted by the term "kodesh kodashim" - holy of holies – i.e. the "holiest of all."  The animals for the sin and guilt offerings are to be killed in the same place as the burnt offering.  Similarly, both the sin and guilt offerings are to have one "torah," according to which they actually belong to the priest who makes the atonement of these two offerings. Thus, status (of holiness), place, and ownership are the three common elements shared in some way by all four of these sacrifices/offerings.
These same three attributes may be quite easily related to the person of Yeshua, to what He has accomplished, and hence to the benefits that we derive thereby:

1. Holiness: “The Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14 in reference to Yeshua, italics added). "According as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, for us to be holy and without blemish before Him in love" (Eph. 1:4, italics added).

2. Place: "I am going to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2, italics added). In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 italics added).

3. Ownership by the Priest: "I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that are mine, and I am known by the ones that are mine" (John 10:14, italics added).  "I guarded those whom You gave to Me" (John 17:12, italics added). "Of those whom You gave to Me, I lost not one of them" (John 18:9, italics added).  “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of Elohim” (Hebrews 4:14).
Following the instructions for the "guilt offering" is the "torah of zeva'ch sh’lamim,” or the law of the sacrifice peace offerings” (7:11-21), which appears to stand on its own. However, its conspicuous placement after the mention of the "guilt offering" may be significant. Last week, in Parashat Vayikra, we noted that the "guilt offering" was accompanied by reparations for damages incurred (5:6-8). Peace and reconciliation cannot take place before one is relieved of one's guilt (through YHVH’s provision, such as making good for damages).  We also noted that "sh'lamim" is of the root sh.l.m, meaning "complete or whole," as well as "peace, reconciliation and payment." But the actual term for "peace offering" - sh'lamim - is rendered in the plural form. This is not surprising, as this type of sacrifice includes three differing aspects or categories: thanksgiving, oath and a freewill offering (7:12-16).

 Thanksgiving is "toda," from the root y.d.a (yod, dalet, hey) connected to "hand" or “arm” – “yad” (and confession, as we observed last week). Interestingly, in quite a few cases carrying out a vow is conveyed as "paying the vow/oath" - "shalem neh'de'r" - making use of both these terms (“peace/whole/pay” and “oath”) together (e.g. 2 Sam. 15:7; Ecc. 5:4; Is. 19:21*; Jonah 2:9). The freewill offering is termed "n'dava," which is a word we encountered in Parashat Trumah (in Ex. 25:2). The root n.d.v. speaks of generosity and free giving. “Oath” as "neh'de'r” (n.d.r) is connected to another root, n.z.r, which is the root for "nazarite," being the adjective for 'he who is bound by a neh'de'r - oath' (see for example Numbers 6:2). The root n.z.r also appears in our Parasha.

In 8:9, toward the end of the Parasha, we read about the consecration of A'ha'ron and his sons: "And put the miter on his head, and on the miter, on its front, he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as YHVH commanded Moses." The "holy crown" here is "nezer ha'kodesh," the “crown of holiness.”  Since the nazarite is a person who is "consecrated or dedicated," the root n.z.r appears to be a fusion of that which pertains to a priestly ministry (even as the priests were to wear this crown) and at the same time also referring to a crown, an item associated with royalty. Does the term “nezer,” therefore, allude to the office of king-priest, particularly as it was to be fulfilled in Yeshua (see Zech. 6:13)?

"As to the flesh of the sacrifice of the thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten in the day of his offering. He shall not leave of it until morning" (7:15). This idea engendered a variety of comments on the part of the sages and rabbis. Maimonides, writing in The Guide for the Perplexed- part 3, proffers the following reason: “‘The offerings must all be perfect and in the best condition, in order that no one should slight the offering or treat it with contempt’. And according to Sefer haHinuch:  ‘There is an allusion [here] to our trust in God; a man should not begrudge himself his food and store it for the morrow, seeing that God commanded to utterly destroy sanctified meat after its time, when no creature - man or beast - is allowed to partake of it.’” This point of view is comparable to the way the Israelites were supposed to regard the manna.2 Notice that the Pesach lamb also had to be consumed without leaving its remains overnight  (Ex. 12:10). In addition, if the offerer was to partake of the peace offering, he had to be ritually clean or else be cut off from his people (ref. 7: 20, 21). Similarly, in 1st Corinthians 11:20-34, we read that those who were breaking bread together were not to do so “unworthily, [such] that one will be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and let him drink of the cup; for he who is eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord" (v. 27-29).

Still on “Ze'vach sh'lamim" and its above mentioned features… This offering may be seen as an analogy to Yeshua's perfect (shalem) and "one [time] offering… [that] has perfected the ones being sanctified for all time" (Heb. 10:14, italics added), who are thereby able "through Him… [to]  offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Elohim always, that is, the fruit of the lips…” (Heb. 13:15, italics added).

"Any person who eats any blood, even that person shall be cut off from his people" (7:27). In last week's Hebrew Insights we looked at Vayikra 17:11, regarding the “blood which makes atonement for the soul." It also says there that, “the life is in the blood." And while Mankind - "adam" - is of the earth ("adama"), he is also of blood, which is "dam."  Man cannot partake of the very substance which is divinely designed to both give him life AND cover his sin and iniquity.

In chapter 8, dealing with the consecration of the priesthood, one of the words used for "consecration" is "milu'im" (v. 22, 28,29,31,33), of the root "m.l.a" (mem, lamed, alef), meaning "full, to make full or fulfill,” and by implication "consecrate," as is seen in verse 33: "…until the days of your consecrationmi’lu’ey’chem” are fulfilledmelot. For He shall consecrate – ye’maleh - you seven days" (italics added). The connection of "maleh" (singular form) to consecration seems rather obscure. Yet when looking at the items pertaining to the act of consecration, in verses 25 and 26, all of which were to be placed on the palms of A'ha'ron's hands and his sons’, we get a glimpse of the connection between 'making holy' and 'full.'  This is how it is described in the Gill Commentary: "And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons," [&c.], which accounts for the use of the phrase, filling the hand for consecration." Gill goes on to say - "For all the above things of the ram, bread, cakes and wafers were put into their hands when consecrated, denoting their investiture with their office: all things are in the hands of Messiah, relative to the glory of God and the good of his people. Their persons are in his hands, and all grace and blessings of it for them; a commission to execute his office as a priest is given to him.  And as it was proper that he also should have somewhat to offer (Heb. 8:3), his hands are filled, and he has a sufficiency for that purpose, as Aaron and his sons had."3  And to that we  add: “And out of His fullness we all received, and grace on top of grace. For the Torah was given through Moses, and grace and truth came through Messiah Yeshua" (John 1:16,17, italics added).

 The Parasha ends with A’ha’ron and sons doing as they were commanded, that is sitting for a complete seven days and nights at the door of the Tent of Meeting, thus fulfilling the “charge of YHVH” (8:35) for their sanctification - “milu’im” (again, literally, “fullness” or “completion”).

Lastly, another interesting encounter with the term “fulfill” or “fulfilling” by the “hand” is found in Divrey Hayamim Bet (2nd Chronicles). At the inauguration of the (first) Temple, Shlomo addressed YHVH, and then “turning around,” he blessed Yisrael saying: “Blessed be YHVH the Elohim of Israel, who spoke by his mouth to David my father, and with [or by] his hands fulfilled…”  (6:4, literal translation).  The question whose hands did the “fulfilling” (as in Hebrew verse 4 is ambiguous) is answered by Shlomo in verse 15 of the same chapter: “… You spoke by Your mouth, and with Your hand You fulfilled [it, on] this very day” (literal translation).  And as we saw above (in John 1:16), YHVH does not only do the fulfilling, He is also responsible for the FULLNESS.

*.  “ Then YHVH will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know YHVH in that day, and will make sacrifice [ze’vach] and offering [mincha]; yes, they will make a vow [neh’der] to YHVH and perform [shi’lemu].” Although this text is referring to Egypt, notice the surprising usage that is made here of the same terminology used in last week’s Parasha and also in the present one.

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

3. Gill Commentary, On Line Bible.

Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use

The anointing, spiritual or material (and of course Mashi’ach) is rooted in the consonants m.sh.ch (mem, shin, kaf/chaf) and anointing would be “meshicha”, a word which is used only in believing circles in Israel. However, a similar word to it, with the same root, is “mish’cha” which means a spread, ointment, cream etc. Above we encountered “thanksgiving offering”. In Hebrew ‘thank you for’ ‘thank you on’ (the ‘on’ replaces the ‘for’). The guilt offering mentioned above is “asham”, in current usage this word means “guilt”, while “guilty” is “ashem”. Finally, we are not strangers to “makom” – place. In our studies we have encountered this word several times.  And of course almost everyone knows that “kadosh” is “holy”. Let us bring these two words together. However, pay attention to the sentence construction in Hebrew, which is very different from English (at least as it appears in the sentence below).

Thank you for the cream (spread, ointment)
Toda lecha al ha’mish’cha (addressing a male)
Toda lach al ha’mish’cha (addressing a female)

I am not guilty - masculine
Ani lo ashem

I am not guilty – feminine
Ani lo ashema

This place is holy
Ha’makom haze kadosh (literally, the place this, is holy)