Friday, June 5, 2009

Torah Portion Nasso – 14 Sivan 5769

Parsha Nasso

June 6, 2009 – 14 Sivan, 5769

This portion contains one of my favorite passages, the Aaronic Benediction. The name of the Portion is Nasso, which means “Lift Up”. Moses gave the instruction to Aaron on how to bless the people. We find it in Numbers 6:22-27

Num 6:22 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,

24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. (KJV)

The priesthood, the sons of Aaron, are the only ones according to the Torah who were authorized to give the blessing. According to Jewish tradition as told in the Talmud, a non-priest could not raise his hands and pronounce the blessing. If he did it would be transgressing the commandment as given to Moses. The kings were not even allowed to transgress the commandments of the Torah. King Saul lost his kingdom for making a sacrifice without a priest, 1 Sam 13:10. King Uzziah became a leper for attempting to offer incense, 2 Chron 26:19-21.

It is recorded in the Gospel of Luke that Yeshua, on the day of his ascension, took the disciples out on the Mount of Olives as far as Bethany where he “lifted up his hands and blessed them”.

Lu 24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. (KJV)

Yeshua was not of the sons of Aaron. He was of the tribe of Judah. So by lifting up his hands and making the priestly blessing, was he transgressing the commandment for only the sons of Aaron to do this? Maybe not.

Heb 7:14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. (KJV)

If we read on in Hebrews, we find the answer to this dilemma.

Heb 7:15 And it is still far more evident, since there arises a different priest after the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who is made, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (MKJV)

This passage in Hebrews quotes Psalms 110:4. By lifting His hands and blessing His disciples, Yeshua was declaring his priesthood of a higher order; the order of Melchizedek. The Talmud describes one who lifts up his hands and gives the Arronic Blessing, declares himself to be a priest. (b.chullin)133a; b.Ketubot 24b).

Yeshua not only had the authority to give the blessing, He was the very fulfillment of the blessing.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ; (MKJV)

It is through Messiah that we gentiles have received all blessings bestowed upon Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as it says in Romans 15:29. Lets take a look at the blessing in detail.

The first line of the blessing

Num 6:24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

What does it mean for God to bless us? The word “bless” is translated from the Hebrew word Barak. It is defined in the Strong’s Dictionary #1288. baw-rak' a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration). God wants to bless us! He wants to kneel before us! He wants to come to us on bended knee.

And God will keep us and make us able to stand in the presence of His Glory.

Jude 1:24 Now to Him being able to keep you without stumbling, and to set you before His glory without blemish, with unspeakable joy; 25 to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty and might and authority, even now and forever. Amen. (MKJV)

The second line of the blessing:

Num 6:25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD’s shining face is His pleasure. Messiah is the fulfillment of the grace of God.

Ro 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; (MKJV)

We are saved through the grace of the LORD as it says in Acts 15:11. He freely bestows on us according to the riches of His Grace, Ephesians 1:6-8.

The third line of the blessing:

26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

When the LORD lifts up His countenance, He is smiling on us and it is through Messiah that God’s peace is on us as Yashua told His disciples in the Gospel of John:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (MKJV)

In the days of the Temple, the priesthood gave this blessing twice a day, in the morning and evening. In the synagogues today the cantor calls the priests, the sons of Aaron, to come to the front of the assembled congregation and give the blessing. Today, as in temple times, the priest giving the blessing will lift their hands and form the shape of the ancient Hebrew letter Shin with their fingers. It is in a shape like that of a modern “W”. The priest will make this shape to fulfill the commandment as stated in Numbers 6:27

27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. (KJV)

In this blessing the best comes last: “May the LORD grant us peace”. Most of us know at least one Hebrew word and that would be the word for “peace”, Shalom. Shalom is a complex word that implies a great deal more than the lack of conflict or war. It is word that implies action. In the Hebrew it is spelled with a Shin, a Lamed, a Vav, and a Mem. When you look at the meaning of the individual letters you see that Shalom means to “Destroy the authority of chaos”. We can be “peacemakers” when we resolve to destroy the authority of chaos in our relationships with each other, with family, neighbors and other authorities, and mostly with our relationship with God. We must remember that this authorityto destroy the chaos comes from God and not through our own devices. In the Aaronic Benediction, God smiles on us and grants us His peace, His “shalom”, the “peace of God which passeth all understanding”. Phil 4:7.

Shabbat Shalom