Friday, March 7, 2014

#213 - "Behold, Days Are Coming..."

The title of this post, which is a familiar phrase in Tanach (Jewish Bible), is the title of this Sefer - Hinei Yomim Bah'im - that I have, which is a collection of sources on the Messianic Era, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the future Eternal World.  While the author of this book did not bring the reason for naming the title of his book as such in his preface, I did notice where he quotes a verse "Behold, days are coming, says Hashem, and I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah", bringing a commentator known as the Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi) who notes that the new covenant with the Jewish people in the future won't be like the covenant that the Jews nullified by sinning following the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai which became annulled, since this future new covenant will be an everlasting one; however, there will not be a new Torah - only what was given on Mt. Sinai.

Now, the Hebrew for new covenant is Brit Chadasha, which is the terminology that Christian missionary groups who attempt to convert Jews to the idol worshipping religion use for the New Testament.  And after all, the Torah is in fact called Brit, for there were three covenants made over the Torah.  However, the term Brit is not exclusive to the concept of Torah; for in fact, when this word is normally used in everyday talk, it typically refers to Brit Mila (circumcision), about which 13 mentions of the word Brit is written in the Torah pertaining to this Mitzva.  And so, if Hashem would have ever meant for us to change to a different religion, it would have been crystal clear to us long ago.

Another misnomer about the concept of the Messiah that the Christians have is that, aside from the wrong candidate, the Messiah already came and that he is going to come once again, or as put, "the second coming of..."  But as we know, the real Messiah is going to come once, or if even according to some sources who say that he will first appear and then disappear for a little while until reappearance, it won't be like thousands of years apart.  For when the Messiah does for appear, it will be at a time that it will be obvious according to the prophecies that it is high time that he shows up, and it will just be a matter of time until things come into place preparing for a new world order that will not only not be threatening, but will be the utopian setting that the world has been waiting for since the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Now, while the Chumash (Penteteuch or the Five Books of Moses), what the Sefer Torah (Torah scroll), the holiest object in Judaism consists of, does not seem to mention anything about a Messiah except in perhaps some poetic form in Parshat Balak, stated ironically by none other than Bilaam, an evil magician who attempted to curse the Jews, but was forced by Hashem to bless them instead; in contrast in the lesser holy parts of the Tanach where much more mention is made of the Messiah, everything is hinted to in the Chumash.

Actually, what I wrote is not entirely true, for in fact, the Torah (Chumash) mentions about "the Messiah" very clearly in another part of the Torah.  As it turns out, this is found quite a few times in this week's Parshat Vayikra, and once in this coming week's Parshat Tzav.  However, as is clearly evident in the context of the verse, "the Messiah" is not referring to whom we normally refer to as Moshiach who is a descendant of the Davidic dynasty, but rather, the Cohen Gadol (High Priest).  Now mind you, the word Messiah, or Moshiach in Hebrew, means annointed, which refers to being annointed on the head with olive oil, which was how the Cohen Gadol was sanctified for his position.  And so, just as the head of the Davidic dynasty, King David, was annointed by Shmuel HaNavi (Samuel the Prophet),so will this be the case in the near future for Moshiach, King David's descendant, who will be annointed by Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet).

This is all very nice, but there must be a reason why it is the olive, of all fruits, aside from being among the Shiv'at HaMinim (Seven Species) of Eretz Yisrael (the country Israel), should have the merit of having a part, via its oil, in anointing some of our holiest people; noting that we always refer to Moshiach as this title.  And, why do we always refer to Moshiach as such?

As we all know, the lighting of the Menorah in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) was performed with olive oil. And I write that we all know, because this is exactly how the holiday of Chanukah got started, being that there was one cruise of olive oil found that wasn't spiritually contaminated by the Syrian-Greeks, and with this oil, the Menorah was lit without interruption for eight days until new Kosher oil was able to be used for it.  Also, the oil used for the Menorah has to be of the physically purest oil without any sediments, unlike for the Mincha (flour offering), or Menachot in plural, where the olive oil didn't have to be of the highest grade.

With this said, the light of the Menorah is especially representative of the light of Torah, for as our rabbis tell us, one who wishes to have wisdom (of Torah) should pray facing southward, as the Menorah in the Temple was on the south side.  And as we see, this light is thanks to the oil of the olive, which has also been used for the longest time for those learning Torah at night.  And so, it is specifically olive oil that is used to annoint the Cohen Gadol, Jewish kings, and Moshiach, for it is only with the light of the Torah can they serve effectively in their position.  And so, we refer to Moshiach especially by this title, for even as a great Tzadik (righteous person) and Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar) as he will be, and he will in fact teach us Torah in the future, his calling to fame is due ultimately to the Torah, Hashem's wisdom.  For after all, it is Hashem who decided in the first place that there should be a Moshiach, and who it should be, and not one who is elected by the Jewish people, or even by a select group of the greatest Torah scholars, though normally in Halacha (Jewish law), what the rabbis (unless obviously politically motivated as we see many today who are) issue as Halacha has the upper hand even over a Heavenly voice, as the Torah was given to us to study and discern.

And now, for the Messiah in this week's Parshat Vayikra, we see that the Cohen Gadol is referred to this title specifically in the context of him having committed a sin in error and requiring to bring one or more Korbanot (offering or sacrifices) as a result.  But the question begs to be asked, why is it specifically in THIS context that he is called HaMoshiach, since after all, Hashem knew ahead of time that we would be using this very phrase or title for the future Moshiach in a most positive sense?

Well, as I mentioned above, the whole concept of being annointed, as done by olive oil, is related to the light of the Torah.  Now note, I write here the LIGHT of Torah.  You see, as we see most unfortunately today, both in the physical exile and in Israel, there are those rabbis, who while they may have an encyclopediac knowledge of what is supposed to be Hashem's Wisdom, they use it to twist it for their benefit.  In the latest scandal, as I call it, there were those Zionist rabbis who decried and denounced the upcoming gathering of the Ultra-Orthodox groups this past Sunday in Jerusalem protesting the evil attempt happening within the Knesset  attempting to pass criminal sanctions against the cream of the crop youth studying Torah if they don't join the army, as well as praying to Hashem, as we are supposed to do in a time of trouble, to annul the evil decree.  Now, it is only like an hour before Shabbat, and I have a lot more to write on this subject, but this will be two posts later, as I plan to write another post this coming Motzoei Shabbat (Saturday night) on a timely theme, but suffice it to say, the above Zionist rabbis who have Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) of the Ultra-Orthodox apparently don't have the LIGHT of Torah, and are attempting to present what they want others to see as Torah in spiritual darkness.

In sharp contrast, the Cohen Gadol, at least the ones in the times of the first Temple, and a handful of them in the times of the second Temple, were guided by the light of Torah.  Yes, we all are human, and we see that even Moses and Aaron the first Cohen Gadol made mistakes.  However, the practical difference here is that they weren't motivated by politics, money, power, or fame.  If they indeed made a mistake, such as an improper Halachic decision, it was just that - a mistake.  It wasn't because they had a warped sense of what the Torah wants as some of the Zionist rabbis have, but simply an honest misinterpretation of what the Torah says.  Indeed, as in this week's Parsha states - Asher Nasi Yecheta "WHEN a leader will sin", referring to the head of the Sanhedrin, the authentic Jewish Supreme Court, on which Rashi notes that the word Asher (when) is used, unlike the usual Torah wording of Im (if), hinting to the similar word of Ashrei (fortunate), noting that fortunate is the generation who merits such a leader, who when he sins, he admits his mistake. True, it is not enough for the Cohen Gadol or Sanhedrin head to simply confess their mistake, howbeit well intentioned, but must offer atonement offerings as other Jews do when they commit certain sins.

But the main point here is that IT IS SPECIFICALLY WHEN THEY MAKE A MISTAKE/SIN, when we see the true strength of our spiritual leaders.  For on a day to day basis, it is easy to take for granted that they do a fine job, and as long as they teach Torah or perform some spiritual service, or do a kind act, that they are just the type of rabbi that one needs.  However, when something happens out of the ordinary that makes us think, especially when such a leader is put to the test so to speak, that we see if such a leader takes responsibility for his actions.  O.K., there are certain types of actions or weaknesses that have hurt the community, as performed by hopefully very few rabbis, such as sexual molestation, that can't be brushed aside even after confession.  However, when it is the type of mistake that was truly unintended, or thought of to be the right thing, that taking a step backwards instead of attempting to justify the wrong thing is what shows one to be a true mentsch, and someone who can always be relied upon; for after all, if even a Torah scholar can make an error, certainly the rest of the people aren't any less prone to it.  And in fact, there are certain cases, where both the Sanhedrin leader and the people, or at least representatives of their specific tribes who commited the error/sin based on the mistaken Halachic decision, had to bring atonement sacrifices.  True, it was a sin, howbeit an accidental sin that was performed, but in the long run, such a leader is on the right track, guided by the light of Torah, and we have every obligation to continue following such a leader.

Anyways, what does all this have to do with Gematriot?  Oh, you see, the phrase Hinei Yomim Bah'im (Behold, days are coming...) is the Gematria of 213, the number of this post.  Other than this, the important thing here is today's Torah lesson that we must all learn in knowing how to pick our Torah leaders guided by the true spiritual light.

Shabbat Shalom!

5 Adar II, 5774

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