In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.

Joseph Shulam: Seek the Fulfillment of Prophecy [2021]

This Shabbat is the second week that we are reading from Leviticus 6:1-8:36. Parashat Tzav. Haftarah: Malachi 3:4 – 3:24, From the New Testament the reading is Hebrews 7:23 – 8:6.

One of the most complex issues to understand in the whole bible is the issue of the sacrifices and the sacrificial system. What makes it so difficult is the mixed signals that the Word of God gives us on this subject. We have clear commands and great details to sacrifice animals and how to do every aspect of approaching the altar of sacrifice. On the other hand we have instruction that God doesn’t need or even want our sacrifices.

Here are just a few examples of both the command to sacrifice and also the degrading of the sacrifices and the proclamation that God doesn’t really need the sacrifices:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Command Aaron and his sons, saying, “This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.”’” – Leviticus 6:8,9 [NKJV]

“‘“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.” ‘Therefore, I said to the children of Israel, “No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.”’” – Leviticus 17:11,12 [NKJV]

Here is the other side of the issue:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.’” – Jeremiah 7:21–24 [NKJV]

In the prophets there is no rejection of the sacrificial practices of Israel according to the Torah.The rejection and condemnation of the Prophets of the temple cult in Jerusalem, was continued by the community of (Essenes) from Qumran. The desire of the Lord creator of the Universe according to Isaiah and Jeremiah was not to cancel the sacrifices in the temple, it was to put the worship in the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrificial into a perspective that is built on relationship of the worshiper with the almighty God of Israel.

The prophet Daniel more than 400 years earlier than the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E., prophesied the fall of the Temple and the end of the sacrificial system in Jerusalem, and the death of the Messiah.

“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.” – Daniel 9:26,27 [NKJV]

The interpretation of this chapter of Jewish history is not simple. The nation of Israel is just now in the process of regrouping and returning home to the land of Israel and to the city of Jerusalem. Israel as a nation, and the return of the exiles back home, and the resurrection of the dry bones as described in Ezekiel 37, all these processes are in the middle of the road, but the direction is clear.

All of the promises of God are in the process of fulfillment of the words of the prophets. Even with predictions visibly becoming a reality it is important for all of us, the disciples of Yeshua, to come and join in the work and vision of the restoration of Israel, physically and spiritually.

The desire to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem is deeply engrained in the very soul of the Jewish nation. We sing in our national Hymn “Hatikvah” that as long as there is a Jewish soul living in us, as long as we dream and hope and work to see the restoration of Jerusalem and the land of Israel restored, our hope will not dry up, but we will serve and build and bring the Aliyah of Jews who have been forced to convert to Catholicism back home to the land of Israel and to the city of Jerusalem. We will see the North American Jews packing up their suitcases and their bank accounts and returning home to the land of Israel.

We will see the restoration of Israel and the freedom from the shackles of East European Orthodox Jewish manmade traditions and attitudes. We will see the restoration of a practicing Jewish faith with Yeshua of Nazareth being crowned and anointed as the King of Israel. Every word that the prophets of Israel recorded in the Word of God will become a reality just as the prophets in the Bible envisioned it! The desert will rejoice, and the dry grounds will become rivers of fresh water and flowers will cover the dry land with colored blankets of many-colored carpets.

The Messiah will come down from heaven and every eye will see and every ear will hear the shofar blast announcing the return of the son of David to Jerusalem. The glorious system of priests and Levites in Jerusalem with the magnificent energy that is described in our Torah reading in Leviticus will be restored and functioning perfectly without the sins and the corruption that existed during the Second Temple Period.

If the Temple will be rebuilt, I don’t know. Personally, I don’t need a temple and I don’t need to kill animals just in order to burn them on the altar. I also don’t think that in the 21st Century the Lord will require such sacrifices, because He Himself is our atonement and the ultimate living sacrifice for all of humanity.

However, I do believe the words of Isaiah the prophet and all the words of all the prophets that promised the restoration of Israel and the restoration of the Land and the blossoming of the desert. Let us receive these promises of God through the words of His prophets and seek ways to participate and to work and join in the physical and spiritual work of the rebuilding and restoring of the land and of the people of Israel.

We are called by Isaiah and by the other prophets to be His witnesses from Zion to the rest of the world. Let us pray and seek every way to be a part of the fulfillment of these promises of God and not be on the sidelines.

Yeshua is packing His suitcases and preparing for His return to Zion and we ought to be preparing and be ready to receive Him and to follow Him in the parade dressed in white and to gather around His throne ready to sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

“‘Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord. ‘Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?’ says your God. ‘Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.’” – Isaiah 66:9-13 [NKJV]

Joseph Shulam: Sacrifice Now! [2020]

The reading for this week is called in Hebrew “Tzav” – “command.” The reading is from Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36. The haftarah is Jeremiah 7:21 – 8:3; 9:22 – 9:23. From the New Covenant the reading is from Hebrews 8:1-6.

The book of Leviticus continues the saga of sacrificing to the Lord a variety of sacrifices for a variety of reasons. Our reading starts a kind of catalogs of the different kinds of sacrifices.

The first sacrifice is the “Olah” the burnt offering. The Olah is one of the most important sacrifices, and very popular to both the priests and the people.

The Covenant that God gave to Israel including the sacrificial system, is the only secret ingredient that has kept the nation of Israel from extinction. If we look at history and ask why great civilizations have passed, we will find that every great civilization died because of the same ingredients.

The civilizations became top-heavy, that is that the elite, nobility, rich, and powerful became too many. A small elite class holds most of the power and wealth. A second reason that civilizations died is that their problems became too complex. The last generations forgot their history and the story of their origins, causing a disconnect between the present and the past.

In short, they became postmodern with the present being the most important topic of interest. They gave up their memory of and celebration of the past and because of this they couldn’t map their path to their future. We could take for an example Egypt, or Assyria, or Rome, but Let us take the Mayans.

The Mayans ruled for a period of 3,500 years between 2600 BCE and 900 CE, they had an extraordinary civilization. Their kingdom ruled in the area of present-day Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. Their population is estimated to have been approximately 15 million.

They were great potters, farmers, architects, artists and weavers. The Mayans had a very important calendar system. Their calendar system was cylindrical and studied charts of the stars tracking their movements. They could forecast the weather. They had a unique form of writing and advanced mathematics. Their water infrastructure was a network of reservoirs, canals, and dams. Suddenly, for unknown reasons that are not easily explained, their system collapsed.

In the middle of the eighth century most of the Mayan nation disappeared. What caused it? It could have been a long period of drought, a plague, wars, or epidemics that devastated their people and their industry, producing food shortages.

Or maybe a combination of several of these factors, or maybe other factors. An empire that ruled for 3,500 years simply failed and disappeared. Similar to the fall of the Roman Empire, and the Babylonian Empire, and other empires, even in our present times.

Now the whole world is going through an epidemic, a plague, the coronavirus that is taking a great toll, even in our own time. The coronavirus is an intellectual challenge that is breaking the health system, as well as the economy, industry as a whole, and the entire social structure.

What happened in the past can happen to any civilization. The stresses to our civilization could cause the same thing to happen.

The first thing that happens is a breakdown of reason and logic, and gridlock in the various systems. Instead of dealing with what is plainly visible to all, the real, immediate problems, people continue on as usual and simply pass their problems on to the next generation.

Another sign is that the society falls into irrationality and can no longer deal with the facts, and there is a loss of appreciation for the importance of truth. The people can no longer cope with the facts; they take refuge in fake religious consolations.

The Mayans were masters at offering sacrifices. They even offered human sacrifices. Archeologists found clear evidence of human sacrifice on a vast scale. They were unable to deal with their problems rationally and they centered their attention on placating their gods by offerings sacrifices.

The Torah is very important for the preservation of the Jews and Judaism. It puts faith and religious behavior in a fascinating perspective. We had two centuries of terrible crises under Roman rule between Pompey’s conquest of the land of Israel in 63 BCE and the fall of the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135 CE. Much bigger and stronger nations disappeared under Roman occupation. They were hopelessly divided and the different factions hated each.

Based on the words of the prophets even before the Great Rebellion against Rome and the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews were expecting a major disaster. Because of the prophecies they didn’t fall apart. Nor were they obsessively focused on the temple and the sacrificial system in Jerusalem.

They focused on finding substitutes for sacrifice. The Jews transformed the sacrificial system into one that included the giving of charity, and of performing acts of kindness.

One was gamlai Chasidim, acts of kindness. The Torah especially, provided answers and balance to the system. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai comforted Rabbi Joshua, who wondered how Israel would atone for its sins without sacrifices, with the words,

“My son we have another atonement as effective as this: acts of kindness, as it is written (Hosea 6:6 [NKJV]), ‘For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”

Torah study also took over much of the burden and became as important as sacrifices.

The Rabbis take the interpretation of Malachi 1:11 ([NKJV]),

“In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering,”

as a reference for scholars to study the laws of sacrifice as a replacement for the Temple sacrificial cult.

“One who recites the order of sacrifices is as if he had brought them”.

Hosea said,

“Take words with you, And return to the Lord. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.”” – Hosea 14:2,3 [NKJV]

Hosea is implying that words could take the place of sacrifice. The Psalm says,

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart.” – Psalms 51:17 [NKJV]

The balance that the Torah and the prophets give us is of such great importance and this power of the word of God has given us the strength to survive past the great ancient empires of history.

The Rabbis also said following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem:

“…If a person repents it is accounted to him as if he had gone up to Jerusalem and built the Temple and the altar and offered on it all the sacrifices ordained in the Torah…” – Vayikra Rabbah 7:2

I am sharing this with you because I believe that our civilization is being challenged by some of the same issues that we faced before in our history, and we need to refocus our lives and return to the values and promises of God in order to survive. I pray sincerely for all Christian leaders to take stock and repent and return to the basic biblical values and stop looking at the church as their private cow to be milked.

These are challenging times for all of us and time for the church to be a light and to provide the charity that is sorely needed to help communities with efforts to serve and help those who are not working and not receiving an income and the sick and hospitals, and those who are in need of food…

It is a time of opportunity to rise up to the occasion and to show the spirit and light of Messiah so that the world will know that we are disciples of Yeshua. Sacrifice now!

Yehuda Bachana: Prayer is Our Sacrifice [2018]

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

This Shabbat we read and study Parashat Tzav. This is a Torah portion intended for priests:

“Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering…’” – Leviticus 6:9 [NIV]

Our parasha continues on the matter of sacrifices. Today, I would like to explain the concept of Judaism that replaces the sacrifice with prayer. After that, I would like to discuss prayer and the importance of it in Judaism as well as in our lives as believers.

Prayer as a Sacrifice

parashat-tzav
What sacrifice are we to offer to God now that the Temple has been destroyed?

What sacrifice are we to offer to God, now that the Temple has been destroyed?The destruction of the Second Temple took place in 70 CE, some 40 years after Yeshua ascended to heaven, where He currently sits on the right hand of power. After the Temple was destroyed, all sacrifices were canceled.

The Sages determined that, without any real choice, prayer should be a substitute for the sacrifices based on the following verse from Hosea:

“Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.’” – Hosea 14:2 [NIV]

Judaism after the destruction of the Temple interpreted this verse as follows: “Instead of sacrificing bulls, which we cannot do since there is no Temple, we will offer prayers and thanksgiving from our lips to God, which are more precious to Him than any sacrifice or altar.”

Therefore, in Judaism, the laws of prayer are determined according to the laws of sacrifices. This means that the time and the name of each prayer are in accordance with a corresponding sacrifice.

So that the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers, which a religious Jew prays each day, serve as an alternative to the constant offering of sacrifices that occurred in the Tabernacle and in the Temple.

In addition, the “Mussaf” prayer that the Jewish worshiper adds on Shabbat and holidays is a replacement for the “Mussaf” sacrifice added on Shabbat.

Indeed, there are many types of prayers:

  • Hallel (praise) – usually taken from the Siddur or a congregational hymnal
  • Thanksgiving
  • Requests
  • Forgiveness
  • Group prayer and personal prayer

How Should We Pray?

Yeshua gave us certain instructions concerning prayer in Matthew 6:5-8. We should not be like the hypocrites who love to be seen praying; those who “show off” in prayer. For they have already received their reward – meaning that the reward for prayer is an answer, the strengthening one’s relationship with God, the gratitude towards God.

When we pray a personal prayer, we need to be in a place where we will not be disturbed, that is, to close the door, to disconnect from the world, and to be in a private place. Today that also means turning off cell phones and any other electronics.

One of the main purposes of prayer is to remind us of all the goodness we have received from God. God knows all our needs, and He does not need our list of requests. He created us, and He knows better than us what we need.

So, prayer is for us, to remind us of our dependence upon God, our need for His blessings, and to always remind ourselves of all the good that God blessed us with until now.

It is important that each of our prayers have the element of gratitude towards God. The importance of this is that it will help us to see the cup as being half full in our lives, it will get us used to seeing and identifying the blessing, and it will help direct us on the positive path of life.

How Should We Not Pray?

Does our faith in God, as being the source of all that’s good, and the fact that we are dependent upon Him, require of us to forgo practical steps towards providing for our everyday needs? Is there something wrong with a believer working towards helping himself with his own strength?

For example, should you pay for insurance for your house, your car, your business, and even your life? Is this permitted?

Jewish understanding, which I believe to be correct and biblical, is that we must do the maximum to preserve our property, so that it’s actually required for us to insure all we own. No one should neglect his security and his livelihood.

The expectation that prayers will bring our livelihood or the supernatural protection of our property is forbidden and is against Judaism. A person must work to provide for himself and his family, and to take care to safeguard his property.

In Judaism, we also treat sickness in the same way. Indeed, we pray for health and healing, and indeed God heals the sick, but in no way should the patient refrain from professional medical treatment, believing that God will heal him.

It is worth noting that according to traditional Judaism, one must not pray for a visible miracle nor for change that occurs naturally. The Mishnah provides the following example:

“…If his wife was pregnant and he said, ‘May it be your will that my wife give birth to a boy,’ this prayer is in vain. If he was coming on the way and heard the sound of screaming in the city, and he said, ‘May it be your will that these are not the children of my house,’ this is a prayer in vain.” – Mishnah Berakhot 9:3b

If a person comes near his house and hears screaming, according to Judaism, he should not pray that this would not be his house, for the people in the neighborhood already know what the source of the screaming is, the source of the problem, and a prayer to change the course of nature, to change the essence or to change something that already happened, is unacceptable and contrary to the way God leads the world.

A Breakdown of the Lord’s Prayer

Prayer is a fundamental component of faith, and it serves as a means of communication between man and God, it’s important to remember that prayer is not a means through which to acquire benefits from God.

Yeshua taught us to pray like this:

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” – Matthew 6:9-13 [NKJV]

In this prayer, Yeshua teaches us the basis for any good and proper prayer, the prayer begins with the greatest precept in Judaism: Kiddush Hashem (the sanctification of the name of God).

In Judaism, the highest value is life, and above life is the sanctification of the name of God. We are familiar with the concept of dying for Kiddush Hashem.

There is praise to God, there is the element of us being actually small, and that God will do on Earth as it is in Heaven, meaning His will and not our will.

Finally, we must remember that we are instruments in God’s hands and not the other way around, that God forbid we may not err to think that God is an instrument in our hands, intended to give us gifts, but no. We are tools in the hands of God and our prayer is not our will, but Your will!

“Our daily bread,” could be a reference to a number of topics: it can be the Torah, as in, “help us to keep Your commandments”, it could serve as a request for our daily needs, or it could serve as a regular habit.

For example: it’s his daily bread to volunteer once a week at that place. In other words, it means give us the strength to serve You habitually and faithfully.

Yeshua continues with one of the most basic principles in the Torah, the principle of measure for measure. Forgive us our sins to the same degree that we forgive those who owe us. The principle of measure for measure is elemental not only in what we call the “Old Testament” (“an eye for an eye”), but throughout all of God’s word:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1,2 [NIV]

Yeshua teaches us that whatever we do not want to be done to us, we should not do to others, and whatever we do want done for us, this we must do for others, for the merciful will receive mercy, those who give will also receive.

We conclude the Lord’s Prayer with the request for protection from all temptation and all evil, for He is the ruler, the King of Kings.

In Conclusion

In addition to our requests, in our prayers we must also thank God for our lives, for the food we eat, for His protection over us. We must also think of others in prayer, meaning we should pray for the healing of others, for their salvation, and for the protection of our nation.

Our job is to carry in prayer the members of our home and our community, and to place them before the throne, in the prayer that we will be used for His glory.

carry-in-prayer-parashat-tzav-netivyah

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