The Bible reminds us often of the importance of unity. Whether it is in the days of Adam and Hava when the Torah states, “Therefore shall an ish leave his av and his em, and shall cleave unto his isha: and they shall be basar echad” (Genesis 2:24). Or when G-d is giving his instruction to the Children of Israel, “And in the yom harishon there shall be a mikra kodesh, and in the yom hashevi'i there shall be a mikra kodesh to you; no manner of melachah shall be done in them, except that which every nefesh must eat, that only may be done of you. (Exodus 12:16).
We see this as well in the New Testament:
“There is not Yehudi nor Yevani (Greek), there is not eved (servant) nor Ben Chorin (freedman), there is not zachar (male) nor nekevah (female), for you are all echad in Moshiach Yeshua.”
There are several other places we can cite this ideal of unity that are outside of identity, tribal affiliation, region, world view etc. This Torah portion, Tetzaveh, reminds us of this.
“And thou shalt command the Bnei Yisroel, that they bring thee pure pressed shemen zayit (olive oil) for the ohr, to kindle the Ner Tamid (Perpetual Lamp).”
The term תצוה (Tetzaveh: meaning “you must command) shares the same root as צות (Tzevet: meaning “join”). By joining people in unity, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov says: “you can cause the Menorah to shine G-d’s glory to the entire world”
(Likutey Halakhot I, p. 500)
The past year and a half I have been studying what is called bilateral ecclesiology and also what is called radial ecclesiology. In the associated faiths as mine, the Lapid Jewish faith, we also have the Messianic Jewish faith and the Hebrew Roots Movement. I want to speak to all these communities in this writing here today. First of all we have to establish where our salvation comes from. Our salvation and foundation is within the Messiah of Israel. The Torah is something we strive for but it is not our salvation. I think that is incredibly important to understand.
During the times of Paul, we had communities of people who worshiped many other gods that were apart of the culture of the region in which they lived in. Then, they hear of the Messiah of the Jewish people. They want to come into the community. They want to be a part of the Jewish people who worshipped the Messiah. But there was a problem.
At this time we had more Gentiles coming into the synagogues than Jews. This was troubling to the Jewish people because these Gentiles had worshipped other gods and they were afraid, and rightfully so, of outside influence making their way into religious life and defiling the Holy places. Some, decided conversion for all is the way. Conversion is not for everyone. Not everyone is able to do it. Some are not meant to convert and some are. Others agreed with the apostles in Acts 15 and handed down a ruling that was an early form of the laws of B’nei Noach. Luckily the apostle that Yeshua chose was a student of Gamliel and not one of the followers of Shammai. Otherwise, we would not have 2.7 billion Christians around the world today being such wonderful advocates for the Jewish people today.
Now, I realize our Christian brethren get a bad rap from many in the associated faiths. But let us remember what our sages said, R’ Bachya said, “a B’nei Noach, can be just as precious in the eyes of HaShem and achieve loftier presence in the eyes of HaShem than a Baal HaTorah.” Despite our differences we must be mature and realize that those reading this may not have the same halakha I do, nor the same hashkafa. And I don’t expect you to. We must all realize, despite the variances in halakha or the levels of observance each of us connect with HaShem in a different way. We all believe that the Bible is true and the infallible word of G-d. Our religious expression may differ a little, or it may differ a lot. But despite this, one thing we can all agree on is that Yeshua HaNotzri is our salvation. He is the center of our faith. Once we realize this. We have reached a maturity level that is required for us to be a part of the Jewish people, to be a part of Israel.
The egotist wants to be validated, the egotist has a “my way of the highway” mentality. We are not to be this way. Instead we are to be servants, we are to be meek and humble and as the words of the Messiah say:
“By this will kol Bnei Adam have da'as that my talmidim you are, if ahavah you have one for the other.”
The verse continues and says: “that they bring thee pure pressed shemen zayit (olive oil)”. This alludes to us in many ways. In our lives we go through trials and tribulations that shape us into the people G-d has ordained us to be. Through our trials we gain great wisdom from HaShem but only if we realize that G-d is indeed the Ayin Sof (the limitless one involved in every single instance of life). We must learn that G-d has His hand in the most minute of things that we rarely even think about that cause our actions to go one way or another. A split cup of coffee even has significance in G-d putting everything into it’s place. Shemot Rabbah says:
“Why are the Jews compared to olives? The olive sits upon its branch. It is plucked, squeezed, ground and crushed, and only then does it give it’s oil. So too, when the Jews endure suffering they show their mettle.”
(Shemot Rabbah 36:1)
The Apostle Paul says:
“Not only so, but we also glory in tzoros (troubles, afflictions), knowing that tzarah (trouble) produces zitzfleisch (patience), Zitzfleisch produces tested character and midos, and tested character and midos produce tikvah. And tikvah does not in the end lead to our being meyayesh (despairing) in disillusionment and bushah (shame), because the Ahavas Hashem (G-d's love) has been poured out in our levavot through the Ruach Hakodesh given to us.”
Nachman as well says:
“Only after much self sacrifice can a person merit to see his purity illumine his soul.”
(Likutey Halakhot II, p. 63a)
We often ask ourselves, who do bad things happen to good people. It is because those who get the most trials merit a loftier place in the Olam Haba if they learn from the trials in which they are presented with. Our true character is presented during those times. If one’s attitude changes drastically in the way of the Other Side when trials come their way then their true intentions are heart is then exposed. But if a person doesn’t pass on blame for their situation to others and instead maintains their shalom and their gratitude, then one can say that one is indeed a “good person”. One would not make such a claim if they were cranky and blaming others for their situation. Instead, tzedikim always realize everything is from HaShem. They find that the Bible is true, this is indeed the case and therefore because it is from HaShem it is for the good. So they are more inclined to listen to His voice, through His patriarchs, His prophets, His Mashiach and His sages. They will be able to tell the difference between the Bat Kol, Ruach HaKodesh and the Yetzer Hara. Because through the storm their mind is clear. It is clear because they know the One who brings the storm.