Posts Tagged With: Yom Kippur

B’har

(Revised from 2013)

Mount Sinai summit view4

Lev. 25:1- 26:2

The name of this week’s portion is B’har. It literally means “on mount” or “on the mountain”; this is where YHWH spoke to Moses. This portion begins with the mitzvah of the Sabbatical years for the land and the counting of years until the Yovel or Jubilee year. This count is strikingly similar to the yearly counting of the Omer that leads to Shavuot (Pentecost). Both counts add up to 7×7 or 49 with the holy day proclaimed the next day (with Shavuot) or year (with the Yovel). Yovel’s 50 year cycle is a much larger picture of Shavuot’s 50 day cycle. While the counting of the Omer begins following the Sabbath after Pesach and culminates 50 days later at Shavuot in the spring months, the beginning count for the Sabbatical years that culminates with the Yovel (Jubilee) begins on Yom HaKippurim[1] (Day of Atonements) in the fall. [Lev. 25:9]

This “counting” connection between the Yovel and Shavuot is no coincidence. The Scriptures are almost begging us to ask more questions and mine out the answers. After a close inspection, a common theme begins to emerge from the excavation. That theme is FREEDOM. At first glance, Shavuot may not appear to contain the thematic element of liberty. After all, the direct commandments associated with Shavuot are linked to the wheat harvest and the waving of leavened loaves.[2] It commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai and our in filling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Thus, we can see the relationship of liberty begin to emerge.

Pesach is well-known as the “Festival of our Freedom”. And it should be as it marks Israel’s undeserved redemption from slavery and oppression. However, we must not make the mistake of assuming that Pesach is the end of our journey or salvation. On the contrary, Pesach and our exodus from Egypt and all it represents is only the beginning of our “renewed life” with our Holy Redeemer. All the moedim (feast days) are intrinsically connected to one another and are designed to be recurring appointments or rehearsals with our Creator. They are guide posts that light our path as we follow the Mashiach. We have a weekly illumination in the Shabbat, a monthly light in the New Moon, 7 yearly celebrations in the moedim, 7 year markers in the Sabbatical years, and every half of a century we are released in the Yovel (Jubilee). Many believe that these “cycles” are Ezekiel’s great “wheel in the middle of a wheel“. I imagine them to be akin to the planets circling the sun, each on their own elliptical or the electrons encircling the neutron of an atom.

Shavuot is deeply connected to Pesach by way of the counting of the Omer. It IS the culmination of our freedom on Pesach. Ancient Israel, and we as their descendants, are not truly “free” until we receive the Torah. It is as it were, our ketuvah (wedding vows). The picture is repeated in the Brit Chadashah (N.T.). We are redeemed by YHWH’s unmerited favor (grace) by the blood of the Lamb, but then we are to wait (count) until the feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) to receive our instructions (Torah) and be filled with the Ruach HaKodesh in order to carry out our Master’s will. We must accept or say “I do” to the Covenant. We are set free from the bondage of sin and death (Egypt) so we can choose the easy “yoke” of the One True Master.

The Yovel (Jubilee) is like Shavuot but on a grander scale. In fact, if you read Leviticus 25 carefully, you will see that what the Sabbatical years and the Yovel actually proclaim is YHWH’s ownership of not only Israel (those that have entered into covenant with Him), but of the whole earth! Think about this for moment. Every 7 years the “land” is to remain fallow; it is a Sabbath for the LAND. If these “sabbaticals” are kept, it leads to the release of MAN. All debts are forgiven and all those found in bondage are released. Property reverts back to the original owner, because no one really owns the land but YHWH (Lev. 25:23). We are only stewards. This is another testimony that YHWH is the Master; we are the servants. No other celebration declares YHWH’s ownership of not only “us”, but of the “earth/land” more than the Yovel.

Ps. 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.

YHWH’s ownership makes Him our King and we are His subjects. Isaiah 61 speaks about the Yovel and its theme of freedom. Is it any wonder that Yeshua our Redeemer spoke these very words in Luke 4: 18-21?

Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; (2) To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, (3) To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

I hope you noticed the agrarian imagery used by Isaiah in reference to us. Somehow, we are intrinsically linked to the “land”. And if we meditate on this for a while, we remember that mankind was birthed from the dust of the earth. This is why the Yovel deals so intimately with both mankind and the land. When we are obedient to the Covenant, the land produces abundantly. When we are disobedient it resists us. So much in fact, that if we remain in rebellion, the land eventually spits us out into exile and captivity (bondage). Certain sins directly affect the land such as incest, bestiality, offering your children to Molech [abortion], and homosexuality. (Lev. 18) Why? Because all these actions profane the name of YHWH. They are the opposite of His character.

If our obedience proclaims His ownership and Kingship, then these sins are in reality proclaiming a false deity (HaSatan). We are currently in the Omer count leading to Shavuot. As we count, we should be reminded of the Shemitah (7 year Sabbatical year) and its count to our great release in the Yovel. Our thoughts should be on the King and His Kingdom and not on our own selfish desires and lusts. Our desire should be to march with perseverance toward a more obedient lifestyle. This will not “redeem” our souls, but it will bless our lives. (Remember the picture from paragraph 5?) If we are the King’s subjects, then we must walk and live by the decrees of the Kingdom (Torah); this shows us to be true followers.

John 15:8-10 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (9) “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. (10) “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Lessons from the Hebrew Pictographs

The Yovel (Jubilee) begins with a loud shofar blast on Yom Kippur. Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew defines Yovel as trumpet, cornet, ram’s horn, horn, ram’s, and Jubilee (as marked by blowing of horns). Literally, this special holy day that comes only once every 50 years is named for the instrument in which it is announced.[3] What is the trumpet blast to remind us of? Once again we see a connection with Shavuot. At the original exodus, the children of Israel traveled for about 50 days until they reached the base of Mt. Sinai (at Shavuot). When YHWH gave the 10 Words (Ten Commandments), He told Israel:

Ex. 19:13 “Not a hand is to touch it, but he shall certainly be stoned or shot with an arrow, whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, let them come near the mountain.”

The Hebrew word for trumpet in this verse is not shofar or a Ram’s horn, but yovel. As a side note, it is important to know that many of the Sages believed that the Yovel was simply another name for a ram’s horn or shofar; in fact, we see the word yovel translated as such throughout the Tanakh. In Hebrew, yovel consists of a yod, bet, and a lamed. The last two letters, bet and lamed, form the Hebrew root word “val” that means ‘to flow’. It has the idea of the flowing of any substance. (i.e. imagine uncorking a bottle of oil and releasing its contents to flow forth; the flow of the oil coming out is “val“) Since the flow of something is often also the emptying of a container, val also means to come to nothing, flowing away, or none.[4]

The first letter, yod, means the hand, a deed, or work. If we put these two pictographs together from the word Yovel, we get “the hand or deed that causes release. This a perfect picture of the function of the biblical Jubilee or Yovel. Remember how we discussed that the theme for both Shavuot and Yovel was FREEDOM or liberty? The Hebrew word for liberty is “deror”. It is used in several passages that speak about the Jubilee, including Isaiah 61. As we’ve just seen, Yovel is also a release (of those in bondage).

While in Hebrew these two words are not etymologically related, their meaning or function most certainly is. Both yovel (Jubilee) and deror (liberty) come from root words that carry the idea of a substance that is free-flowing, like a release of fluid, sound, or the abstract “freedom”. We use this very imagery in English when we sing “Let Freedom Ring!” The sound waves flow forth like the yovel blast. All of this speaks to a build up of pressure just before the “release”. In other words, there is a FORCE behind our release! (The Holy Spirit!)

When the time on YHWH’s calendar is just right … BAM! In my opinion, the fact that these two words are often used in conjunction and that they have similar meanings only adds to the significance of the flow of freedom. When man is free to move about or FLOW without the restraint of sin and bondage, only then can (s)he truly be free to seek and follow the King of Heaven and Earth. The flow or sound waves created by the shofar announce the return of our King and our complete redemption. May we have ears to hear it!


[1] Creation Gospel Students should make the connection immediately. All the moedim find their source in the 4th branch, the festival of Shavuot. The Day of Atonements is the epitome of a “clean slate”; therefore, it is quite fitting that the Yovel (Jubilee) begins at this crucial point. This day is ruled by the Spirit of Daat, the knowledge of sacrificial love. What better picture of this loving knowledge is there than a “return”? How many of us fantasize about going back and doing things all over again —- but this time better? This is the Yovel. (Lev. 25:10, Neh. 1:8-9, Is. 44:21-22)
[2] Interestingly, Shavuot’s wave offering is the ONLY offering in the entire feast and sacrificial system where “leavening” is not only allowed, but commanded. (Lev. 23:17) Is this not a picture of us? We ARE what is leavened.
[3] Likewise, this is the case for Yom Teruah or the Feast Day of Blowing (Trumpets).
[4] Some further Scripture examples are Isa.53:7 Isa.55:12 Jer.31:9.
Categories: Moedim, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why Jonah?

 

jonah_Final
Why Do We Read Jonah During Yom Kippur?

Is this book about repentance (teshuvah)? Is it about second chances? Does the story focus on Nineveh or Jonah? Do you find Jonah’s attitude unwarranted? What is it about that plant or gourd that grows up and shades Jonah and then dies and withers from a worm? What does this all really mean for us at Yom Kippur?

These questions are always on my mind (lev) as we read Jonah on Yom Kippur. But this year, I had some new information come to my attention that has finally answered some of the paradoxes I’ve felt when I’ve read Jonah’s story in the past. I mean, how could Jonah literally want to die because God pardoned Nineveh? What was happening that I don’t understand? What’s the REAL message I am to receive from this story? Is it just about second chances or is there more to it than that?

When my boys were younger, we used to watch the Veggie Tales movie “Jonah” around Yom Kippur. The song “God of Second Chances” rings in my ears still to this day when I think of Jonah. I believe that Rabbi David Fohrman has finally put that ear worm to rest this year. In his segment of teachings on Jonah at AlephBeta Academy, Rabbi Fohrman digs deeply into the Hebrew of the narrative to bring forth quite a few rubies and diamonds. I really hope you will take the time to listen to all 6 segments as you afflict your soul this Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Fohrman has a way of teaching and speaking that just affects me greatly. (Or as the Veggie Tale tomato would say, “It moved me Bob”.) With this series on Jonah, Rabbi Fohrman has once again peeled back the layers of a familiar story to reveal a simple yet profound truth to me. In total, the segments are only about 40 minutes long— an easy feat for Yom Kippur. Why do we need both Justice and Compassion? Find out why in these segments.

Segment 1  “What’s Jonah really About?” by Rabbi David Fohrman  (You can move to the next segment by clicking the arrow button pointing to the right under the display window at AlephBeta Academy.)

 

But WAIT, there’s more!

I have one more sweet treat for you on Yom Kippur. Dr. Hollisa Alewine has two great teachings that she has posted on the Creation Gospel Facebook page related to Yom Kippur. Obviously, you facebookers can go to her page and read these articles there. But for those of you that don’t do Facebook, I’ve provided the links to the posts below. These require some chewing, but they are a timely message about the True Spirit of the Moedim (Feasts). Enjoy!!

A Letter from Hollisa Alewine

Yom HaKippurim: A Day Like Purim

 

May you have an easy fast (tzom kal)!

 

Categories: Moedim, News Flash | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fast of Yom HaKippurim

Why do we fast on Yom Kippur?

 The Torah commands us to “afflict or humble our souls” on this solemn holy day. Traditionally, this has been understood to mean that we deny our flesh of food and perhaps even water. We should have deep heartfelt confession and repentance on account of our sins. This inward penitence and pleading before YHWH is outwardly manifested in fasting and mourning. A picture of this type of fasting is detailed in Joel 2. It details how a contrite heart is manifested through fasting. This study will begin with the most commonly referenced verses about Yom HaKippurim followed by other mentions of afflicting or humbling oneself and fasting.

Lev. 16:29  “This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you.

Lev. 23:27-32  “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD.  (28)  “You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God.  (29)  “If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.  (30)  “As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.  (31)  “You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.  (32)  “It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.” (NASB)

 For those that desire to please YHWH by meeting with Him at His appointed times (moedim), it becomes increasingly important to discover what He expects of us when these days arrive. What does YHWH require on the Day of Atonements? The Word clearly mentions ceasing from work and humbling or afflicting one’s soul/nephesh. A physical offering of fire cannot be presented because there is no functioning Temple or Levitical Priesthood[1]. Thus, HOW does one “humble” or “afflict” their soul? Where does modern Judaism get their traditional practice of fasting from this phrase? Is it biblical or even required to “fast” on Yom Kippur?

How Scripture Defines Humbling or Afflicting One’s Soul

Zech. 7:5-6  Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? (KJV)

The above verses mention a fast in the seventh month or the month of Tishri. Yom HaKippurim falls on the tenth of the seventh month. Both Christian and Jewish commentators regard this fast as a reference to Yom Kippur.

 Acts 27:9  Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them… (KJV)

Commentators agree that Luke was referring to the Fast of Yom Kippur in the above verse. The Syriac version of this text actually reads, “the fast of the Jews”. It is also well documented that this was about the time of the autumnal equinox, when the Mediterranean Sea was particularly tempestuous. To sail after this feast was proverbially dangerous among the ancient Jews. Therefore, based on these last two references, there seems to be a precedent for fasting on Yom HaKippurim in the seventh mont. Is fasting the way in which the soul is humbled or afflicted? David says as much in Psalm 35.

 Ps. 35:13  But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.

The Hebrew word for “humbled” in the above verse is anah (Strong’s H6031). Anah has the idea of eyeing or taking heed to something by abasing oneself. It is easy to see how the English words affliction or humility are drawn from the Hebrew anah. In David’s case, he subjects his “soul” or “nephesh” by fasting. A person’s nephesh is not their spirit-man (neshamah); it is the animal-like nature that we share with all beasts. It is the necessary part of us that drives us to eat, sleep, procreate, and expand our territory[2]. This nature must be ruled by our God breathed neshamah. David denies his flesh food and perhaps even water, which subjugates his nephesh (soul) to his spirit. King Ahab humbled himself in a similar fashion as David.

 1Ki 21:27-29  It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently.  (28)  Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,  (29)  “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”

King Ahab afflicted himself (by fasting and sincere repentance) which resulted in YHWH postponing judgment. What an awesome display of God’s mercy! Fasting, if coupled with a contrite heart, no doubt avails much. In the book of Ezra, there is another instance where fasting brings about a favorable answer from YHWH.

 Ezra 8:21-23  Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions.  (22)  For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.”  (23)  So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty.

One of the most well-known fasts comes from the Book of Esther. She and the Jews of the region received a favorable answer from YHWH through fasting. The entire nation was spared from the evil decrees and influence of Haman. A quick concordance search on the word “fast” reveals numerous such instances.

On Yom HaKippurim, the Book of Jonah is traditionally read. In it, a Gentile nation fasts and comes to repentance on account of the words of the reluctant prophet, Jonah. But Jonah doesn’t really care about the nation of Nineveh. He doesn’t want YHWH to have mercy on these people and laments when he realizes that the nation will be spared. Interestingly, despite Jonah’s wicked heart, he is the only successful prophet in the Tanakh. Sadly, Jonah misses the point. YHWH is a God of Mercy and His mercy extends unto all His Creation. Yes, YHWH cares even for those we deem unworthy or unacceptable.

Fasting, however, is not some sort of magic formula. Fasting with a hard or bitter heart will not move our Elohim. Fasting must be coupled with real faith and a repentant heart. In the Book of Isaiah, YHWH is clear as to the purpose of fasting.

 Is. 58:5-10  “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD?  (6)  “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke?  (7)  “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  (8)  “Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.  (9)  “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,  (10)  And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.

Also consider Joel chapter 2. The setting of the following passage is the fall feasts (moedim)! If you have time, please read this chapter in its entirety.

Joel 2:12-18  “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning;  (13)  And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.  (14)  Who knows whether He will not turn and relent And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a drink offering For the LORD your God?  (15)  Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,  (16)  Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber.  (17)  Let the priests, the LORD’S ministers, Weep between the porch and the altar, And let them say, “Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not make Your inheritance a reproach, A byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?'”  (18)  Then the LORD will be zealous for His land And will have pity on His people.

The implication is that our contrite heart (an inward work) is greater than the rending of our garments (an outward symbol of an inner work). My prayer is that our fasting on Yom HaKippurim is coupled with sincerity, contrition, and mourning. May all the bonds of wickedness and any evil yoke be broken off from the people of Adonai.

** Obviously, we must use common sense and discretion when fasting. If you are pregnant, nursing, ill, or unhealthy, use wisdom in how you choose to obey. There are many ways to modify a fast. For example, if you must eat or drink in order to nurse or take medication, consider a fast similar to what Daniel did. (Daniel 1)


[1] Sacrifices and offerings can ONLY be made in Jerusalem at the Temple Mount by a Levitical Priest according to Torah. To do so without meeting these requirements is sin.

[2] For a more detailed analysis of the nephesh, read Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s work: The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread (2012), especially Lesson Eight: Man or Beast.

Categories: Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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