By: William Jackson
This week’s Torah portion is called “speak!” (Emor). The portion is named this because Adonai spoke instructions for the priest to Moses, (Leviticus 21:1). As we go through YHVH’s list of “does and don’ts” we get to Leviticus 24:1-2 where HaShem tells Moses that the people are responsible to provide the oil for the tabernacle’s light. This is also mentioned in Exodus 27:20. Understandably, HaShem wanted not just the priest to contribute to His worship, He wanted it from all His people. But why were the Israelites told to give lamp oil?
Everything in Torah is said for a reason. So the Israelites being given the responsibility of fueling the lamp was not a random responsibility doled out by YHVH. As we know, in Psalms and Proverbs “lamp light” is used to signify the word of Adonai, His Torah (Psalm 18:29, 43:3, 119:105, Proverbs 6:23). So where does this fuel come from?. For the actual lamps of the tabernacle it came from the committed and meticulous process of turning olives into oil (1). When it comes to HaShem’s written word, it comes from the committed and meticulous process of studying it. The more we process His word the clearer and brighter the light of His knowledge becomes.
Saying this, many people worship in a passive manner; they will listen to, and follow others; but this isn’t interacting with HaShem on a personal level. Sure, praying is taking it to an intimate place; but praying is us speaking to HaShem, whereas; studying scripture is HaShem speaking to us. Ask yourself these questions:
a Do you have a daily routine to study HaShems word?
b. When your in conflict with somebody else about HaShem’s word, do you consult a third party to resolve the matter, or do you open up the Tanakh and resolve the conflict with the third party HaShem thru His written word, for the answers?
c. Can you keep the discussion within Tanakh when talking about HaShem, or do what other religious books, religious figures and even religious videos teach eclipse His written word?
I am not saying other people and tools aren’t helpful. It is good to have community and like minded believers to hash out our understanding of His word, but this is an interactive process which we need to be involved and not passive. More importantly, it needs to be solely Tanakh centric. Blindly following others is a recipe for disaster as spelled out in scripture (Jeremiah 17:5, Isaiah 2:22, 51:7, Psalm 146:3-4, Proverbs 29:25-26). Scripture also tells us to primary rely on HaShem and His Torah (Psalm 119:11, 18, 105, Job 29:3). If we do not embrace His word how can we measure others, how can we pick out a false prophets? Remember this, He may not have mercy on those of us that allow ourselves to be purposefully mislead (Jeremiah 23:21, Isaiah 56:11, 66:5).
To quote Moshe Ben-Chaim, “The Torah was purposefully written in a cryptic style so as to engage the mind in this most prized activity of analysis, induction, deduction and thought” (2). If we have somebody else exercise for us we will never develop the muscles, they do. Giving the honor of studying HaShem’s word to somebody else cheats us of our relationship with Him. Now don’t get me wrong, it is good to have people to converse with, but be a participant not a follower. As we have time dedicated to prayer, we should have time dedicated to study (3), and please don’t just read, study!
“It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a BIBLE reading people. The principles of The BIBLE are the groundwork of human freedom”