Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Special Readings for Shavu’ot
Haftarah: Ezekiel 1-18;3:12
Contrary to our current social philosophy and what is taught in Christianity today about G-d’s laws, there are limits; the boundaries of which are defined by G-d’s laws, statutes, and rulings. Although this parashah is the first place we see the giving of the 10 Commands, G-d made some of His perpetual commands long before the 10 commands were given; (Ex. 15:25), redemption of the first-born (Ex. 13:11-16), Pesach observance (Ex. 12:14), circumcision (Gen. 17:11), and Shabbat (Gen. 2:3). Interestingly, the first command is one that is seldom acknowledged: “I am Adonai your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.” The second command expounds on the first commanding us not to worship any other in any form, for He is a jealous G-d. Like so many other words and verses in the Bible, the commands have been distorted, changed, omitted, mistranslated, and misunderstood by individuals who have an agenda that is not in keeping with G-d’s Torah. This has been done by some sects of Judaism and Christianity; on “both side of the isle.”
As the people heard thunder for the first time, saw the lightning and the sound of the shofar, they were extremely fearful as would be expected. Moshe tried to calm them and inform them that G-d was testing them and attempting to establish a relationship whereby the people will love, fear, and obey Him for their ultimate good (Ex. 20:17-18). I use a difference in language tense to illustrate the need for a continued love, fear, and obedience to G-d throughout the generations.
G-d can manifest himself in any form evidenced in His Torah. Listen intently for his voice. Remember, although He came to the Israelites in thunder, lightning, and a cloud when He gave them the commands, He was not found in the wind, the earthquake, or in the fire witnessed by Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13). This time G-d was in a quiet, subdued voice that reassured Elijah nowhere at the same time. Let he who has ears hear G-d’s voice in everything as the Ruach walks beside us to guide our every thought and deed.
The designated reading from the book of Numbers provides instructions for the offering to be given on the day of the firstfruits. A new grain offering is to be made and this day is a holy convocation with no ordinary work permitted. A burnt offering is also required plus a male goat for atonement.
Haftarah: Ezekiel 1-28:3:12 and B’rit Chadashah: Acts 2:1-13
The haftarah for the first day of Shavuot is considered one of the most holy sections of G-d’s Torah. Our Orthodox brethren call this section Mirkevet Yechezkel, “the Chariot of Ezekiel” because the narrative describes Ezekiel’s revelation described as a “chariot” in which he saw the entire scope of heavenly beings. This narrative also serves as the primary source in the Tanach for the Jewish mystic paradigm known as Kabbalah, also described in some very early Jewish literature as Maaseh Merkavah which translates to “the workings of the Chariot.”
So, we may ask why this passage is relevant to Shavu’ot? The Torah was given on this day on Amount Sinai. Comparing with the corresponding events during this time in the B’rit Chadasha we read in Acts 2: “ The festival of Shavu’ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. one heard the believers speaking in his own language. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. Now there were staying in Jerusalem religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in their own language.”
The narrative continues describing the confusion and questions about how this could be that all of the apostles speaking were from Galilee, but they were speaking in such diverse languages. Finally, Peter stood up and declared what was happening and why. He spoke of what G-d said, about Yahshua, the crucifixion and the resurrection; that Yahshua is L-rd and Messiah. Peter called the people to repent and follow G-d’s Torah. The result was the salvation of about 3,000 people that day. G-d was indeed glorified and those who chose to follow G-d’s Torah continued to live in His ways. They praised G-d and won the respect of all the people. “And day after day the L-rd kept adding to them those who were being saved.” Note here that “being saved” is a continuous process. The Torah does not say “adding to those who were saved.” So, the reason the narrative about Ezekiel’s revelation is read on Shavu’ot is because of the connection between the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) who is sent from the heavenly sphere by YHVH/Yahshua, and the mystical heavenly vision Ezekiel was given, also from the heavenly sphere.
The 10 Commandments given at Sinai were the ground rules and initial introduction at the national level on how G-d wants us to relate to Him and to our fellow man. The experience was metaphysical. The G-d of the universe communicated from the heavenlies to man as a physical creation in ways they could “see,” hear, and understand. In Ezekiel’s case, he was a physical being given access to heavenly activity. Comparing these two events we can more easily understand Ezekiel’s vision whereby angels were going up and down the ladder between the physical and the heavenly spheres. This is the connection between the haftarah and the Mount Sinai experience. There is an inextricable connection between G-d/Yahshua who is in the heavens and His creation on Earth. Understanding Ezekiel’s vision provides yet another “tool’ to help us understand this connection and the objective which is to glorify our King and make His Name known throughout the universe.
“No detail in the physical world is isolated from G dly reality. On the contrary, the existence of this world is a material manifestation of a G dly counterpart that exists in a spiritual setting.
An example for this can be seen even within physical existence itself: any attempt to explain the simplest math equation to a stone will be completely futile. Now, although both logic and a stone are components of the physical world, nevertheless one is entirely cut off from the reality of the other. This is infinitely more so with regards to G dliness: the world, by definition, is finite. G d and everything about Him is infinite. For the finite and the infinite to connect is impossible. It cannot begin to happen.
Nevertheless, with the giving of the Torah this was actually made possible. G d, who has no limitation whatsoever, “came down” within His creation. Thus, at that moment, the possibility for the elevation of the physical to the G dly was created and this is the theme of the haftarah. Ezekiel’s vision was the means by which he perceived G-dliness.
For the physical to be elevated, it must first be imbued with the feeling that there is something higher than itself, that in fact its physical self is just the “image” of a Divine reality. This is the point of entry in taking the creation to its primary objective, the revelation of G d Himself within it” (Chabad.org)
The denial of anything “bigger” or greater than human beings that has authority over humanity taught by secular humanists in America today is at the crux of humanities problems. If there is no Divinity, no Authority, then there is no right or wrong. There is nothing or no one who can hold anyone accountable for wrongs that are even embedded into the human psyche. If we are to believe secular humanists that humans are gods within themselves, then there is no way that the physical can be elevated. In fact, we see just the opposite happening. The physical is rapidly degenerating into a carnal abyss just as the Adversary strives to continue his agenda of convincing humans that there is no sin, no punishment, no G-d.
The fact that we are still celebrating Shavu’ot that was first celebrated over 2,000 years ago is a testimony to G-d’s infinite being and the continued applicability of His commands and laws throughout the millennium. He was, is, and is to come! May He be praised for giving us His Torah, Messiah Yahshua, and the Ruach HaKodesh. May all of our firstfruits be blessed and our trees and crops plentiful. To G-d be all glory and honor!
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart