HOME          TEMPLE SEDARIM      < PRIOR WEEK       NEXT WEEK >

 

Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 5

Numbers 12:1-16   -   (No Haftarah)   -   Psalm 104   -   Romans 11:22-13:4
 

 

Iyyar    1, 5763 / May  3, 2003

Iyyar    1, 5766 / Apr 29, 2006

Iyyar    1, 5769 / Apr 25, 2009     Rosh Hodesh Iyyar

Nisan 29, 5772 / Apr 21, 2012     The fourteenth day of the Omer.

 

Vatdaber Miryam vAharon / Miriam and Aaron spoke    SCRIPTURES should be read first

Basis from Leviticus 14: A slanderer whom God has under the discipline of the disease tzaraat is called a metzora (both words being from the root tzara – one who spreads slander). Tzaraat is a state of spiritual impurity (tumah), with physical manifestations: no other impurity takes effect upon the declaration of a priest, and no other impurity can be temporarily ignored as a matter of convenience, such as for a wedding or festival. Only a metzora is excluded from the entire camp, and contaminates everything in a building he enters. (Note that tozia ra (slander) may be true or false.)

 

Leviticus 13 is concerned with the diagnosis and discipline of the metzora – the one who is stricken for slander. Leviticus 14 deals with the healing and return of the niddah – the quarantined slanderer, who repents.

When God heals him, he must go through an eight-day two-stage process of purification. A priest who is himself a niddah – one who is quarantined as a metzora – is not eligible to rule on a healing, since the Torah requires that the priest who rules must go out of the camp to rule.

 

The root cause of the sinner’s gossip or slander is haughtiness – contempt for others. His purification therefore symbolically displays his repentance, going from haughtiness to humility.

The first stage of involves a ritual with two birds, performed outside the camp, after which he could enter the camp. Because the punishment came for gossip and slander, twittering, chirping birds are used in the ritual as symbols. The slaughter is not a karban – offering. The birds must be of a kosher kind, but not of those species that may be used for offerings.

 

The tall, wide cedar tree symbolizes haughtiness. Crimson dye comes from a small creature whose identity is uncertain, showing lowliness; likewise, thyme (often translated hyssop) is a lowly plant.

As the gossip / slanderer has “slain” his victims, with his words of life-destruction running far and wide. So now the better of two birds must be slain, its life-blood being spread with water.

 

A sprig of the small thyme plant is tied with a scarlet thread to a large cedar board. {Sample presented} They are dipped into the bloody water. The live bird is also dipped into the blood, and then thrown to freedom over the open field: the death-cry of the blood is carried far. The slaughtered bird is buried after the ritual.

The healed metzora is sprinkled seven times with the blood, and then must go to a mikvah (baptistery) and put on clean clothes. He is afterward allowed into the camp, but may not go into his house (he may not cohabit with his wife) until his cleansing is completed seven days later.

 

The final stage of his purification, on the eighth day, requires an unusual three atonements: two male lambs, plus a ewe lamb. The third offering, a guilt offering, is brought by someone who has used something dedicated to God – stolen from the Temple; the implication is that the slanderer has robbed God.

 

Setting: Aaron is Moses’ brother, and Miriam is his sister: they are all Levites (Exodus 2:1, 4:14, 15:20). Moses was married to a Cushite woman (“The sons of Ham were Cush and . . . Cush became the father of Nimrod” – Gen 10:6-8).

 

“So Yahweh said to Moses: ‘Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone’ ” -- Numbers 11:16-17.

 

Preface: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” 1 Corinthians 10:11.

 

Numbers 12

(V.1) “Then Miriam (a prophetess – Ex 15:20) and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; . . . and they said, ‘Has Yahweh indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?’ And Yahweh heard it.

 

(V.3) Now Moses was very humble, and did not defend himself. However, Yahweh defended him! Without warning, Yahweh said to the three siblings, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” Then Yahweh came down in a pillar of cloud, and standing at the doorway of the Tabernacle, called Aaron and Miriam out before Him.

 

(V.6) Then He said to them, “Hear now My words: if there is a prophet among you, I, Yahweh, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of Yahweh. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?

(V.10) When Yahweh left, “behold, Miriam was a metzora, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was a metzora. Then Aaron said to Moses, ‘Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother's womb!’ And Moses cried out to Yahweh, saying, ‘O God, heal her, I pray!’ But Yahweh said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.’

(V.15) So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.
 

Psalm 104

(v.19) Interestingly, on this Rosh Hodesh (Head of the Month), the Psalm says, “He made the moon for seasons”.

(V.13) As though speaking of this time of wandering in the Wilderness, when the people were to be growing in faith, this Psalm speaks of God’s provision. “He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine which makes man's heart glad, so that he may make his face glisten with oil, and food which sustains man's heart.”

 

(V.32) And, as though looking forward to the time of the full count of the fiftieth day, it says, “He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke.

 

(V.31) And, befitting the situation of testing in the wilderness, this Psalm speaks of those who will learn, and those who will continue to defy God. “Let the glory of Yahweh endure forever; let Yahweh be glad in His works; I will sing to Yahweh as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; as for me, I shall be glad in Yahweh. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless Yahweh, O my soul. Praise Yahweh!

 

Romans 11:22 – 13:4

(V.22) Paul says exactly the same thing as the Torah portion and Psalm. “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

 

[(V.23) Parenthetically, the Torah portion concerns natural-born Hebrews and those of the nations that followed them, basically as one group. But Paul is here considering gentiles in contrast to natural-born Hebrews. “And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’ ”]

 

(V.12:1) Back to the main theme, Paul says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Many professing Christians today speak and act as though their intuition were the Holy Spirit: whatever ‘feels right’ to them is taken to be truth or righteous acts (because they “have the Holy Spirit”). But God is teaching us here to have our fallen minds transformed. We must learn His Word, and have our thinking made in conformance to it.

 

(V.6) Firstly, we are taught to exercise the gifts that God has given us, whether teaching or serving or giving, etc.  Then, we are taught, in exercising these gifts, to put the welfare of others ahead of our own! This world teaches us differently, to climb on the backs of others to gain our own wealth. “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” 

 

(V.13:1) In remembrance of Miriam, we are taught to be in subjection to those whom God has placed in positions of authority. Obviously, we are not to do things contrary to God’s commands, even if an authority figure requires such; but that is not an excuse for disobedience to whatever rules don’t fit our feelings.

 

Readings:

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

 

Preface: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come”1 Corinthians 10:11.

 

Setting: “So Yahweh said to Moses: ‘Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone’ ” -- Num 11:16-17.

 

Reader 1Amen. 1 Then Miriam (the prophetess, Aaron's sister – Ex 15:20) and Aaron (Moses’ brother Aaron the Levite -- Ex 4:14) spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman) (And the sons of Ham were Cush and . . . Cush became the father of Nimrod; -- Gen 10:6-8); 2 and they said, "Has Yahweh indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?" And Yahweh heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)

Reader 2Amen. 4 Suddenly Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, "You three come out to the tent of meeting." So the three of them came out. 5 Then Yahweh came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, 6 He said, "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, Yahweh, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7 "Not so, with My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household; 8 with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of Yahweh. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?"

Reader 3Amen. 9 So the anger of Yahweh burned against them and He departed. 10 But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was a metzora, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was a metzora. 11 Then Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. 12 "Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother's womb!"

Reader 4Amen. 13 Moses cried out to Yahweh, saying, "O God, heal her, I pray!" 14 But Yahweh said to Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again." 15 So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again. 16 Afterward, however, the people moved out from Hazeroth and camped in the wilderness of Paran.

 

Torah of the Metzora (chastisement for slander)

Leviticus 14:1 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "This shall be the torah of the metzora in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of tzaraat has been healed in the metzora, 4 then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed. 5 "The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. 6 "As for the live bird, he shall take it together with the cedar wood and the scarlet string and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the running water. 7 "He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the tzaraat and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field. 8 "The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean. Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days. 9 "It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean. 10 "Now on the eighth day he is to take two male lambs without defect, and a yearling ewe lamb without defect, and three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil; 11 and the priest who pronounces him clean shall present the man to be cleansed and the aforesaid before Yahweh at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 12 "Then the priest shall take the one male lamb and bring it for a guilt offering, with the log of oil, and present them as a wave offering before Yahweh. 13 "Next he shall slaughter the male lamb in the place where they slaughter the sin offering and the elevation offering, at the place of the sanctuary – for the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy. 14 "The priest shall then take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 "The priest shall also take some of the log of oil, and pour it into his left palm; 16 the priest shall then dip his right-hand finger into the oil that is in his left palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of the oil seven times before Yahweh. 17 "Of the remaining oil which is in his palm, the priest shall put some on the right ear lobe of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the guilt offering; 18 while the rest of the oil that is in the priest's palm, he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before Yahweh. 19 "The priest shall next offer the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Then afterward, he shall slaughter the elevation offering. 20 "The priest shall offer up the elevation offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be clean.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness." 

Psalm 104    (To be sung.)

1 Bless Yahweh, O my soul! O Yahweh my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. 3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; 4 He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers. 5 He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever. 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. 7 At Your rebuke they fled, at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. 8 The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established for them. 9 You set a boundary that they may not pass over, so that they will not return to cover the earth. 10 He sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the mountains; 11 they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they lift up their voices among the branches. 13 He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works. 14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth, 15 and wine which makes man's heart glad, so that he may make his face glisten with oil, and food which sustains man's heart. 16 The trees of Yahweh drink their fill, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted, 17 where the birds build their nests, and the stork, whose home is the fir trees. 18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim. 19 He made the moon for the seasons; the sun knows the place of its setting. 20 You appoint darkness and it becomes night, in which all the beasts of the forest prowl about. 21 The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God. 22 When the sun rises they withdraw and lie down in their dens. 23 Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until evening. 24 O Yahweh, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions. 25 There is the sea, great and broad, in which are swarms without number, animals both small and great. 26 There the ships move along, and Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it. 27 They all wait for You to give them their food in due season. 28 You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good. 29 You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire and return to their dust. 30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground. 31 Let the glory of Yahweh endure forever; let Yahweh be glad in His works; 32 He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke. 33 I will sing to Yahweh as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; as for me, I shall be glad in Yahweh. 35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth and let the wicked be no more. Bless Yahweh, O my soul. Praise Yahweh!

 

Romans 11:22 – 13:4

Reader 5Amen. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-- that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, " The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. 27 And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins." 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, " Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."


 

© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)