What is Matzot Anyway?

Recently a question came up, “What is the square cracker like food?” referring to a picture of Matzot. This blog is a response to what it is and represents.

In this blog we will attempt to cover the basic and intermediate level of what Matzot is in addition to give you the role it plays during a Passover Seder (meal).

First, most people (especially in the Christian environment) remember Matzot primarily for its use at the annual or weekly Eucharist (aka as communion).

During this sacrament those that observe usually attribute the matzot to body of the Messiah;

1Co_11:24  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Nevertheless, since we are wanting to communicate a Messianic Jewish perspective lets look at how both parts of the bible portray Matzot, and then we will look at the seder in the end.

So what is Matzot in the Messianic Jewish Perspective? Matzot:
Matzah, matza or matzo (Yiddish: מצה‎ matsah, Hebrew: מַצָּה‬ matsa; plural matzot; matzos of Ashkenazi Hebrew dialect) is an unleavened flatbread that is part of Jewish cuisine and forms an integral element of the Passover festival, during which chametz (leaven and five grains that, per Jewish Law, can be leavened) is forbidden.

Basically it is a bread that is unleavened (without yeast to a degree).

To fully understand the comprehensiveness of Matzah in the bible one should do a word study on the the word unleavened/leaven.

G-d speaking to Moshe/Moses and Aharon/Aaron gives instructions for the Hag HaMaztah הַג הַמַתזה aka Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yes! There is an annual time period in which we should only eat matzah or unleavened bread.

Exo 12:15  Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
Exo 12:16  And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
Exo 12:17  And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
Exo 12:18  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
Exo 12:19  Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
Exo 12:20  Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

With that being said, that is the main purpose for Matzah today. To fulfill that commandment. However, there are other events in the Old Testament that unleavened bread was used such as offerings in the Miskhan/Tabernacle or the Temple.

Lev_2:4  And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.

Lev_2:5  And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.

ETC…

These examples can be found repeated in various places throughout the OT as well as examples where prominent people in the Bible upheld the commandment.

As Far as the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the New Testament we find:

Mat 26:17  Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
Mat 26:18  And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
Mat 26:19  And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

Luk 22:1  Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.

Luk_22:7  Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.
Act_12:3  And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
Act_20:6  And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

 

It is imperative to understand that from the beginning leaven and unleaven bread meant something in the end. As you will see below, leaven represents malice and wickedness, but unleavened bread represents sincerity and truth.

1Co_5:7  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
1Co_5:8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

So, what does all this mean to us as believers now? Well, for starters every year as prescribed by G-d we are to remove the Chametz aka leaven from our houses. No leaven should be found in our houses for the entire week. Messianic believers do this very thing to fulfill the command literally, but also spiritually. As the week approaches, we are not only looking to throw out the leavened bread we are looking to throw out the wickedness and malice that has grown in our hearts. To bring a sincerity and truth in our hearts. It is a a time to remove wicked doctrines and things unholy within our souls. It is a soul searching week.

One might say we do this everyday! Yes, and you should. However, we are fulfilling G-d’s command to do so annually. Oftentimes we get so caught up in the things of this world that we don’t truly take a deep look at ourselves and match them up with G-d’s word. This week allows us to not only obey the command but to have a very real example to teach our children and families how to search for wickedness, and malice to rid them from our lives and replace them with truth and sincerity.

Some believers may say well we have no need to do this because we have Christ of the Messiah. But the Verse above clearly says “let us keep the feast”

Okay, so what meaning does it have in the Passover Seder?

It is considered the bread of affliction. Specifically Yeshua’s affliction. He was broken for us. It is very similar to communion when eaten during a passover seder. The matzah is usually pierced through like crackers usually are, and it has burn stripes that resemble his passion.

 

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Haftarah Portion Emor אמר

This week’s Haftarah portion Emor אמר  is found in Ezekiel 44:15-31.

It deals with the Levite Priests the sons of Zadok זדכ (meaning Righteous).

This is a quite an interesting passage of text to be found in the book of the Prophets. It was a time after Israel had gone astray from Adonai, and Adonai wanted to ensure they maintained the standard of holiness attributed to the priesthood especially that of the sons of the righteous priest. It is commonly believed that instructions in Ezekiel are for the priests of the 3rd Temple related to the end times.

We will be dealing with priests ministering to Adonai and conduct of the priests (especially marriage requirements).

Right off in verse 15 we see 6 times the word me or my speaking of Adonai. This speaks volumes of who the priests were ministering to. The passage goes on to include direct references to Adonai and is possessions being whom and what they serve. Obviously we know that the one whom they serve is Adonai. Verse 44:16 is definitely not discreet about who they will be serving.

“”So, the Levitical kohanim, the son’s of Zadok who kept charge of My Sanctuary when Bnei-Yisrael wandered from Me, will draw near to Me to minister to Me. They will stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood”- it is a declaration of Adonai. They are the ones who enter My Sanctuary, and draw near to My table to minister to Me”. Ez. 44:16

In the above quoted scripture you will notice the capitalization of the words “my and Me”. This capitalization is found in the text. It is very intentional of the scribes to ensure these stayed capitalized. It expresses complete ownership and distinction of who they will be serving.

The conduct of priests listed in Ezekiel 44 is parallel to Leviticus 21-24 which is the Torah Portion for this week as well.

They are to wear linen garments and no wool while in the gates of the inner court and within. Head turbans of linen, underclothes, and clothing that is not to cause sweat. This may seem like very practical teaching, however the reason for this is because the clothing they wore was considered holy enough to be contagious (so to speak) and Adonai did not wish for this to find a place in commonality. They were to take off the holy garments before leaving (in common clothing) the place of service and leave them in the holy chambers. Grooming is also of importance. They should not let their hair grow long, nor shave their heads. In addition they should not drink wine before entering the inner court.

Now the next part of the text is where it gets tricky. What may seem like an apparent contradiction, can be distinguished by several small details.

In the Torah portion we can read about who the priests can marry. It plainly states in verses Leviticus 21:13-14 that:

“And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow. or divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.”

Just looking at these verses, it is not clear who he is speaking to. So we must take you back to the beginning of this passage which can be found in verse Lev. 21:10 in which we see that he is speaking to the high priest:

“And he that is the high priest among his brethren….”

So, you see in Leviticus that the prohibition to marry a widow is expressly listed for the High Priest. Further we also see that the prohibition is for the priesthood of Aharon and his sons.

“And Adonai said unto Moshe, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aharon….” Lev. 21:1

Now in the haftarah portion we see clear distinctions between the families in charge of the Priestly duties. In Leviticus we see Aharon and his Sons and in Ezekiel we have the Sons of Zadok.

Ezekiel 44:15 “but the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok…. ”

Further, we see that the widow that is permissible to marry in Ezekiel has to be a widow of a priest.

Ezekiel 44:22 “Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of of the house of Yisrael, {or a widow that had a priest before}.”

You may be asking why this is important. First every word of Hashem is important. Next, there what is called counter-missionaries that often times try take text that is seemingly contradictory such as the passage about the widow, and use it to explain that the bible isn’t accurately translated or originated. Which in turn (especially for the unlearned or un-studied can cause a lot of grief and confusion. So, we study these things out to prepare us for those supposed contradictory questions you might get.

 

 

 

 

 

Parasha Emor Torah Portion

This week’s Torah Portion Emor ֶֶֶֶֶֶאמר is found in Leviticus 21-24.

This post will be covering this weeks Torah Portion in summary. We will cover:

  1. The Commands to Aharon and his son’s (throughout entire portion)
  2. The Appointed Times of Adonai

The Word Emor means “speak or say”. In this Parasha we learn that Adonai (the Lord) commands Moshe to speak to the Kohanim (priests) the things He says.

Right off the get go, it must be stated that it is evident that these laws in chapter 21 are specifically for the priest (the sons of Aharon). Later in 1 Peters 2:9 we learn that we too are a Holy Priesthood as believers in the Messiah. Now it is sometimes hard information to digest in the modern world we live in, however Adonai’s words were nonetheless given to Moshe in those days. Let’s just keep it simple and consider these commandments applicable to the descendants of Aharon.

Prohibitions:

  1. To become ritually defiled by way of a dead body except those of his immediate family.
  2. To make baldness on their head, or mar the corner of their beard, or cut their flesh.
  3. To desecrate the name of יהוה . Adonai.
  4. No blemished, or diseased descendant shall approach to do service.
  5. To take a whore/prostitute as a wife

The Cohen Gadol (High Priest), because he is elevated among his brethren is to behave in a manner that is above all.

Prohibitions:

  1. To stop grooming his hair
  2. To tear his clothes
  3. To defile himself by way of dead body (even if his mother or father dies)..
  4. Not to leave or profane the sanctuary in grief.
  5. To marry a widow , divorcee, profaned woman or prostitute.

Permissions:

  1. Marry a virgin
  2. Not to disqualify his descendants

I definitely do not claim that these lists are conclusive. Please take your time to read the passages of scripture and feel free to comment additions or subtractions where needed.

We find the entire chapter Lev. 23 dedicated to the appointed times (Moedim מדימ) .  If you ever wondered what holidays messianic believers are trying to follow or observe through commemoration, this chapter is a must resource. In addition you could find and purchase an easy resource for this as well by clicking here.

But let us cover the Moedim in short.

  1. Shabbat שאבת aka Sabbath Found in verse 23:3 Weekly rest. 6 days we work but the 7th we rest.
  2. Pesach פצה aka Passover Found in verse 23:5
  3. Hag HaMaztah הַג הַמַתזה aka Feast of Unleavened Bread. Found in verse Lev. 23:6 Often this holiday is consider the same as Pesach, however they are two distinct holidays.
  4. Sfirat HaOmer ַהעומר‎‎ ספירת aka the Early First Fruits/Counting of the Omer found in verse 23:10-11 and verse 23:16
  5. Shavuot שות aka Pentecost found in verse 23:21
  6. Yom Turuah ימ תורואה aka Day of Trumpets/Shofar found in verse Lev. 23:24
  7. Yom Kippur ימ כיפר aka Day of Atonement Found in Verse Lev. 23:27
  8. Sukkot סהת aka Tabernacles found in verse Lev. 23:34-39

I hope this blog post blesses you and helps you during your devotion.

  

Parasha Acharei

Shalom שלמ!

This week’s Torah Portion Acherei אכארע  is found in Leviticus  chapter 16-18.

Some complex writing is found in this week’s portion. That being said we will cover the following topics found in the portion:

  1. Aaron’s responsibility for the nation at Yom Kippur
  2. The Blood of the Sacrifice
  3. Sexual Immorality

We are starting off with what Aaron had to do in fulfillment of atoning for the whole nation of Israel and Aaron’s family directly.

The portion makes assumption that Aaron is the called high priest by way of what responsibility he is given by Hashem. He (Aaron) was required to wear a certain kind of clothing, pick out a certain kind of animal for sacrificial use, and enter the holy places only at certain times when Hashem would make it know to him.

Aaron was instructed to take several animals to be used later in a ritual of sacrifice or setting free into the wilderness. On a personal note he had to come yielding a young bull for a sin offering, and a ram for an elevation offering. These two offerings were for different reasons by design. One was to send a pleasing aroma to “elevate” to Hashem, and the other to make atonement for sin of the person bringing it to the tabernacle. It is later in the chapter we find the animals needed for the nation. Before he could perform any ritual Aaron was to wash himself entirely and don his fine linen tunic.

Now from the assembly of the children of Israel Aaron was to bring the same two offerings. A ram for elevation and a bull for a sin offering. These were to be used for the whole nation of Israel. These two goats had a significant difference, they were to be “tagged” in way that one was for Hashem and one was for Azazel לעזאזל. Sages in times past say that Azazel is a word that is beyond human comprehension.

This is where the portion gets exciting. Because we know the miracle that happens through the atonement process. A Sinful nation, takes a sinless animal and that sinless animal atones for their sins, every year this was to be done as an everlasting ordinance.

The one animal for Hashem was to be brought to the tabernacle and sacrificed while the other was set out into uninhabited land and set free. As the portions says, it would carry all the iniquities and sins of the nation of Israel into the wilderness, never caring if it ever made it back to the tent of meeting.

Let’s fast forward to the blood of the sacrifice now. Following the incense the priest would also sprinkle the blood within the curtain of the Holy of Holies. So in order for them to sprinkle the blood as prescribed, the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) כוהענ גאדול would carry a bowl of some sort or just dip straight into spilled blood so that sprinkle the blood from on his forefinger. Sprinkling the Holy place was to mean that the place was also sanctified once again. This was also done in the outer courtyard including the altar seven times he was to sprinkle the altar.

Remember, this was for the entire nation of Israel. So, those involved had to maintain utmost purity. So it is not any surprise that we see laws concerning not consuming/touching blood like the nations all around them. They were told not to consume the blood because the blood was the atonement and was sacred not only to the creature but to Hashem.

I find it interesting that this particular commandment includes proselytes. Proselytes include gentiles that come to know Hashem (such as Christians that claim to be Jewish [even spiritually]).

To sum up the portion lets go to the text that speaks about sexual immorality. I find it very interesting that the portion of text related to atonement for sins is so closely found next to sexual immorality.

In chapter 18 we find an immediate (after atonement) declaration of things Hashem requires of us. Predominately we find sexual immorality in the list of things we should follow. The things we must or must not do are preceded by the words “Do not perform the practice of the land of Egypt”.  So, obviously the Israelites were exposed these sins.

When reading the text you may find yourself reading the words “the nakedness of your” and wonder what does that mean to me today. Well, it is modernly believed to mean have sexual intercourse. In ancient times it meant as little as living in the same house as, whereas to see their nakedness. Eitherway, here in the text is is considered a very gross sin.

Finally, Hashem declares that a man should not lie with a man like a man would lie with a woman. This is without doubt speaking of homesexual intercourse/foreplay etc.

Brit Hadasha Tazria & Metzora

After this week’s teaching in the Torah & Haftarah Portion’s we jump right into the Tazria  portion found  New Testatment Luke 7:18-35 where Yeshua ִis found healing people of all manner of diseases such as Tzaraas (aka leprosy).

Yeshua is so profound that the disciples asked Yeshua per John the Baptist’s request, if He was the promised one or should the look for another. In that every hour that they asked Him if he was the promised one, many miracles such as the cleansing of Tzaraas was fulfilled.

He responded with, “Go your way, and tell John what thins ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached, and blessed is he, whoesoever shall not be offended in me.” Luke 7:22-23

Now, one of the most profound ideas related to the Temple is found in the Metzora portion of the Brit Hadasha in Matt. 23:16-24:2 and 30-31.

It was related to the bloodshed in the days of Zacharias. During the strong rebuke, Yeshua confirms that the prophet was slain between the temple and the altar in Matt 23:35. Basically Yeshua is saying the temple now has been defiled, and now must be destroyed.

Now, because we never leave of a portion in negativity. We must remember that what happens in Matt 24:30-31 is that the son of Man will come in the clouds of glory. At the sound of the trumpet He (Yeshua) shall send his angels to gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other!

Baruch Hashem (Bless The Name)! What a great and glorious promise, that although there are those that have failed and the we have not seen the full truth of G-d’s words we still have an opportunity to yield ourselves to Yeshua and be called his elect.

Haftarah Tazria & Metzora

Shalom סלמ! Welcome to The Haftarah portion Tazria תזריא and Metzora מזורא. This week due to the triennial calendar we use for Parasha we will be combining these two different portions into one. I will do my best to consoilidate them in a quick easy to read format.

This week’s haftarah Tazria תזריא portion can be found in 2 Kings 4:42-5:19 and it directly relates to the torah portions when a person has a disease in the skin.

Just so happen that a mighty man Naaman נאאמאנ had secured a servant through war that was a Jewess girl. She proclaimed to her master’s wife that prayers should go up to the prophet for Naaman’s healing.

So, when Naaman received word of this possibility he straightway began the process of getting to the then King Jehoram יֶהָרַמ. Naaman went to his master and it was arranged that he should go to the king bearing gifts.

Now, Jehoram when he heard the request of Naaman to be healed he ripped his clothes because he knew that there was no possibility he could perform the requested task. It wasn’t long when Elisha had hear that the king had ripped his clothes when Elisha was ready to show the mighty handiwork of Hashem to Naaman נאאמאנ.

Immediately Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha. So, Elisha made the declaration of Hashem to Naaman to go and dip 7 times in the river Jordan. However, Naaman was under the impression that the prophet would look toward heaven and pray in the name of Hashem and he would be healed. Straightway Naaman left and did not do as the prophet said. Yet, Naaman’s servants went to him and convinced him to do the easy task of bathing 7 times. When he did he was HEALED! Naaman that day knew there was a G-d in Israel.

A very unique thing happens just at the end of this portion text. Naaman recognizes that the master that he serves, because he serves a false idol, that when he prostrates himself before his false god, that he too is found bowing and he asked the prophet for forgiveness for this going forward because he knew there was no G-d beside Yehovah יהוהּּּ

Another kind of story that involved infected ones Metzorim is found the portion Metzora.

Four infected ones like Naaman, were depressed. They came up with a plan and figured they would put the Aremean’s to test. Without hope they decided they would go to the enemies camp and would leave it up to the Aremeans to see if they were killed.

Now Hashem (the Lord) had made the sound of chariots and war come upopn the Aremeans the night before, so they abandoned their camp in haste. The metzorim decided to take the spoil from one or two tents and then decided to go and tell the King that this had all happened. So the king sent men to investigate thinking it was a trap.

It was not a trap!

Shalom!

Parashot Tazria and Metzora

This week’s Torah portion is a double hitter based on the triennial year cycle in which we combine these two portions. This week we will be exploring a lengthy two sections of the Parashot this week found in Tazria תזריע: Leviticus 12-13, and in Metzora  מזרע : Leviticus 14-15.

ִn the first parasha we explore in sequence is Tazria. The word Tazria  תזריע means “She bears seed”. “The creation of a new human being is one of the most sublime phenomenon in the universe. ” (Chumash Stone edition). Because of that, when a woman gives birth she is giving of herself to the universe.

With that phenomena comes a great deal of proper management of life and impurities surrounding new life. In Tazria we learn that we must contain impurities.

With that being said G-d mandates a certain purification and restoration of the child bearer. For the male child, there shall be seven days of  contamination.  For the female child there shall be two weeks. Some rabbinic resources claim there is not difference in the child’s gender with regard to human equality, however that the superior spiritual being the female child requires more purification time. The focus for that ruling is based on the life giving qualities of the woman. Likewise the mother/child bearer doubles the amount of time spent in the purification process 33 days vs 66. It is said that purification process makes her whole again.

Now in verse 12:6 we learn that there is not a distinction between genders of the child when it comes to the offering to Kohen כוהענ (Priest). However the significance of the offering is that the time of her purification has ended. God has restored her back to fullness in the flesh.

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Now looking into chapter 13 we see a prescription to Moshe & Aharon by G-d that identifies how to address a disease in the skin commonly identified as Leprosy called in the Hebrew Tzaraas תזאראס. There are varying debates regarding t he name, most rabbinis resources do not call it leprosy because there is not equivalent word association to the original Hebrew.

As you read the text in chapter 13 you will notice that there are varying stages of skin disorders. It was commanded that the priest determine the diagnoses of the person’s condition. Then you will also find that the disease if in fact it is a disease (aka Leprosy.  can also be resident in the walls, linens, and clothing of the carrier. The different types of garments or materials that could be contaminated are: wool or linen garments, warp and woof, leather, and anything fashion with leather.

When a priest declared the skin disorder a disease the person was also declared contaminated. That meant that he/she was to dress up in full clothing up to the lips and when in public or around others he would have to declare himself contaminated by speaking the words precisely in the Torah ” CONTAMINATED, CONTAMINATED!”.

Moving on to the portion of Metzora מזרע which means “infected one”. It is found in Leviticus 14, the day of the infected one’s cleansing ceremony. Giving a detailed account of what they and the priest inspecting them will do have to do before being ceremonial clean. One thing that stands out to do is to be outside of the camp. Afterall, to protect the temple from disease or infection is as sacred as the human body itself.

Rites of purification, cleansing the poor,  and cleansing houses are all among t he prescribed instructions/Torah as well as how to deal with both male and female unusual fluid discharge from the body.

All these purification methods are prescribed for the purpose of allowing the infected one to re-enter into the praise and worship of the assembly.