Kedoshim / Holy Ones
HafTorah Portion Ezekiel 20:2-20
Brit Chadasha 1 Peter 1:13-16
This Torah portion opens with: ‘And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’ Leviticus 19:1-2. Kedoshim continues with repeated instructions, beginning with honoring your parents and observance of the Sabbath. What is holy?
Couldn’t “Be holy” mean, “Have the courage to be different.” The root meaning of kadosh in Hebrew means something distinctive – it means set apart. “Be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” is one of the most unexplainable instructions in Scripture. How can we be holy like God? He is infinite, we are finite. He is eternal; we are mortal. He is the universe but isn’t contained in the universe; we are a mere speck on its surface. Yet Torah says to be holy for ‘I Am Holy’. God is in the world but not of the world. So too are we called on to be in but not of the world. John 17:15-19 ‘I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.’
Kadosh also relates to the meaning of marriage, kiddushin, because to marry means to be faithful to one another just as God makes the covenant to be faithful to us and we then out of love and obedience become in covenant with Him, thus being faithful to Him. To be holy means to bear witness to the presence of God in our lives and to live according to Him, away and out of the world. To be in covenant means to live in the Divine presence of The God that we can’t see but we know is the Divine force within ourselves, causing us to be set apart and courageous. As Rabbi Shaul, Paul, reminds Timothy and us in 2 Timothy 1:7 ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’
To be courageous means to be different, to be set apart, to not conform to the world. That is our calling.
Deuteronomy 31:6 ‘Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.’
Joshua 1:6-7 ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.’
Psalm 27:14 ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.’
Psalm 31:24 ‘Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.’
We have the courage given to us by God to be different and to be set apart. It takes strength to walk away from conformity and the masses. We don’t behave like everyone else just because everyone else does. We don’t conform.
Why are we set apart? Deuteronomy 7:6-8 tells us that we are set apart for Him. ‘“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.’
1 Peter 2:9-10 ‘But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.’
1 John 2:15-17 ‘Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.’
In 2021, 85 percent of people living in the United States celebrated Christmas. (statista.com). Also, it is estimated that over 2 billion world-wide celebrate Christmas. Not to pick on the holiday of Christmas, but it is fact that the holiday has nothing to do with the birth of Yeshua who they call Jesus. It is a worldly celebration of a false deity on a false day.
About 24 million tons of pork products are produced in the European Union each year, and the total production volume of pork in the United States is about 24.9 million pounds per year. (Statista). Not to pick on the pig, but to be set apart means to Shema! to hear and obey Leviticus 11:4-8 ‘Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 5 the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 6 the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 7 and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.’
According to the market research firm IBISWorld, the tattoo industry generates an estimated $1.6 billion in revenue. Tattooing is the 6th fastest growing American industry and there are twenty-one thousand tattoo parlors in the US, and this number grows by one each day. But Leviticus 19:28 instructs: ‘You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.’ (In the Hebrew context the word is nefesh, soul.) In Hebraic thought, the soul is the unified body and spirit. The words commonly used "for the dead" is grammatically connected with the word commonly rendered as "cutting." These two words are שרט לנפש. In scripture there existed a heathen practice of cutting the flesh as part of an attempt to appeal to the gods, a kind of unholy sacrifice: 1 Kings 18:28 ‘So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.’
Leviticus chapter 19 can be confusing as God instructs seemingly unclear directives that wouldn’t relate to today, like the tattoo some might argue. For instance, the cutting of the hair? What was the reasoning? To not do as they (the world, the pagans) practice. It is taught that in the ancient pagan practices the sun-god who was the great lamented god had his hair cut in a circular form, and the priests who lamented him had their hair cut in a similar manner in honor of him.
We are to be set apart, to be different, to be courageous and to stand for the Covenant of Elohim.
Acharei Mot/After the Death
HafTorah Amos 9:7-15
Brit Chadasha Hebrews 9:11-28
This week’s Torah Portion, Acharei Mot, (אחרי מות) means “After the Death.” This phrase is found in the first verse of this week’s Torah Portion: ‘Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the Lord, and died…’Leviticus 16:1. This is referring to Leviticus 10:1-3. Because of this act, God gave strict instructions regarding how the high priest Aaron was to approach the presence of God within the Holy of Holies in Leviticus 16:2 ‘…and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.’
The remainder of Leviticus 16 contains the instructions for Yom Kippur as we read in Leviticus 16:29-34 ‘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, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.’
In Leviticus 17:11 we understand the sanctity of the blood. ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Acharei Mot ends with the laws of sexual morality in Leviticus chapter 18.
Back to Leviticus 17:7, God makes a strict law: ‘They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.’
The word ‘demons’ can reference and be translated into goat, hairy goat, satyr, ‘Satan (Hebrew: הַשָּׂטָן ha-satan, or the opposer, formerly known as Azazel (Hebrew: עֲזָאזֵל). Azazel personifies evil and temptation and is known as the deceiver that leads humanity astray. This verse can also be transliterated as: ‘They shall not sacrifice- לשעירים lasseirim, to the hairy ones, to goats.’ This might reference the famous heathen god, Pan, which was represented as having the posteriors horns, and ears of a goat; and the Mendesians, a people of Egypt, had a deity which they worshipped under this form. Herodotus says that all goats were worshipped in Egypt, but the he-goat particularly.
In Leviticus 16:10 Aaron releases the goat to Azazel, the wilderness: ‘But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.’ (The name represents a desolate place).
This Torah portions teaches us the importance, once again of studying Leviticus. This Book Vayikra ties into the Brit Chadasha and emulates our Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach. The Scripture references on the High Priest, the Holy of Holies, that life is in the blood and the worship of other gods; all brings such clarity and distinction that if we are the people of Israel, the children of God, then we must walk in His covenant and listen, Shema, which brings us into obedience.
The LORD is holy, He must be approached in a holy manner and can only be approached according to His commands and decrees. This is not about works, but rather about our obedience through the Savior, Yeshua who brings us to The Father.
During this Torah portion, we are in the Counting of the Omer and the reading Psalm 119. Omer reading for day 3 Gimel is Psalms 119:17-24 and speaks frankly about those that stray. ‘You rebuke the proud (arrogant)—the cursed, who stray from Your commandments.’ Psalm 119:21. Those that stray are arrogant, proud and cursed.
There is a clear distinction between good and evil, truth and falsehood, nobility and debasement, good and evil, clean and unclean. Absolute truth demands that we confront the paths of idolatry and evil in deed and thought. For which when we return to Adonai, we are cleansed and forgiven.
The forgiveness of Yom Kippur that we see in this Torah portion is expressed in the Azazel offering. So, as we begin to understand the meaning of the Azazel service, we begin to truly appreciate the nature of the forgiveness and atonement of Yom Kippur, which is the highest level of forgiveness, coming from the very source of divine chesed (loving-kindness).
Isaiah 53:6 states: ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ This is the atonement service. What is it to stray, to turn from Elohim and worship other gods, the idols of our hearts? We have become proud and thus cursed when we turn from His commandments. The iniquity of our sins rests upon Yeshua HaMashiach, as the sins of Biblical Israel rested upon the goat sent into the wilderness.
Revelation 9:20-21 ‘But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.’