Simchat Torah—Rejoicing in G-d’s Word
G-d is not the subject of beginning, rather beginning is subject to G-d.
“Chazak chazak v’nitchazek!”--“Be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened!”
This is the faithful cry of G-d’s people as we seek strength in Him at the end of the Torah cycle.
In a life devoid of G-d, things are never complete, even death—which we say, “is final”—is in a G-dless reality, nothing more than an unfinished life: for those of us who are honest this leaves a less than final taste in the mouths of our souls. But in a life that acknowledges G-d’s Kingship over all things, the incomplete becomes complete through faith, in G-d’s eternal perspective. What we see as incomplete, He sees completed in Yeshua the Messiah.
We begin Simchat Torah by ending the Torah cycle, but, like G-d, a circle has no beginning or end and so we end by beginning a new Torah cycle. It is appropriate that we begin with G-d. G-d is not the subject of beginning, rather beginning is subject to G-d:
“Bereshit bara Elohim…” Bereshit 1:1
“In the Beginning God…”
Now let’s add the Midrash of Yeshua’s talmid—disciple—Yochanan to our beginning, remembering that the Word is not the subject of beginning, rather beginning is subject to the Word:
“Bereshit haya ha-d’var…” Yochanan 1:1
“In the beginning was the Word…”
Of all the reasons for rejoicing at the closing of this season of Z’man Simchataynu—Time of great rejoicing—the greatest reason of all is Yeshua—Jesus—G-d with us. When we celebrate the written word of G-d—the Torah—with great rejoicing, we are celebrating a kinetic metaphor representing the meta-physical reality of G-d with us—Yeshua. I say meta-physical because He—The Word—is both physically real and spiritually tangible in our worship, though we cannot see Him. He, “Was, is and is to come.”
We have called the Torah “Instruction,” and rightly so. Yeshua is our instruction, our guide, and our ever present help in time of struggle. We have called the Torah “Law,” this is also accurate, for to those who reject Messiah, He is seen as the image of punitive Law—though it is their clouded lense, and not His reality that they gain this impression. Some have called the Torah “the fallible writings of men,” mistakenly thinking that this nullifies the reality of G-d. In fact it is the ability of G-d to express His word through fallible human beings that is the greater truth. Yeshua—G-d with us, the Word—born of a woman, lived a sinless life: surely this is best articulated in metaphor by the psalmist, “I speak of the things I have made touching the King, my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”(Psalm 45:1) The tool is subject to the hand of the artist.
In celebrating Simchat Torah we circle the Torah, taking turns to hold the Scriptures in our arms, seven times we circle the Synagogue filled with joy, Adults and children alike. We open it out amongst us, each playing a part in passing on its truth. Isn’t it Yeshua who is among us? Isn’t it He who imparts truth to and through us? We are united by the Torah, Yeshua unites us. We are delighted by the Torah, Yeshua delights us. We are disciplined by the Torah, Yeshua disciplines the ones He loves. We are kept safe by the Torah, Yeshua encamps around us with absolute fidelity. Concerning the Torah, our prayer book says, “It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it, and all its ways are peace…” Yeshua has come to give us life and life in all fullness, He is Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace. Please, wrap me in the Torah and I will sleep like a baby until Yeshua returns.
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
In deconstructing our pride we construct humility...
A Rabbi once said, “HaShem is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (Yochannan/John 4:24)
When we build our Sukkot we put up temporary walls and bind beams together, we adorn them with the seven species and light them up with joy. Some might say it is the practice of vain religion but it is far from vain practice, in fact it’s not practice at all, it’s simply participation. “In Him all things exist and have their being,” therefore every action is in the Spirit, the point of Messiah’s word is to give us a locational perspective of our worship. In addition to our location—in spirit—we must add willful truth. It is the motivation of the heart that determines whether we will dwell in a sukkah constructed of walls that keep others out, or in a sukkah built with a grand opening that invites others in.
We long for some tactile expression of worship—though we have been told it is idolatry to want to touch G-d—and wait redundantly, having forgotten that we already have tactile expression, the Torah is filled with instruction concerning the joy filled practice of tactile worship, yes, even worship that can find itself completed in Spirit and in truth. For so long we have been given the impression that religion is tedious, good religion has been thrown out together with bad religion, thus forsaking the true meaning of the word altogether. It is a matter of perspective: we often judge the religious action of others to be nothing more than superstition, but G-d judges the heart. We have trapped ourselves inside a prison built with the walls of our own judgments. Messiah has said, “Stop looking at mere appearances and instead make a right judgment.” Perhaps it is time to address the reasons behind our dislike for G-dly rhythm and practiced religion? Is it possible that Yeshua might walk with us as we use symbolism to ignite a fire that will consume the delusional wall of false judgment that stands between us?
In Orthodox Rabbinical Judaism there is a wonderful mythology surrounding the mysterious visitors of Sukkot, the Ushpizin—guests. The eclectic selection of famous patriarchs, prophets, tzadikim, rabbis and angels that qualify as Ushpizin are said to come and fellowship with us in the Sukkah: they are said to teach us the things of G-d, to journey with us as fellow pilgrims. If taken metaphorically this may be helpful. The reality is that they do not come to visit us at all except in the mind’s eye: in stories of the Torah, the writings and the prophets. But, there is one who comes, the Messiah Yeshua, and when He comes He is able to fill the roles of sojourner, prophet, rabbi, tzadik, patriarch, Messiah and King. In Him we find rest for our souls—not simply our minds or hearts or physicality alone, but the whole of our being, nefesh.
What does it mean to involve the whole of our being in worship? It means to allow G-d to touch all the unified parts of our being, including the tactile need to build and engage in physical action. When I build my sukkah I build with Yeshua and He with me. I am a builder’s son, Yeshua, the builder, is in that moment, a reflection of the Father to me. For every physical wall I build, a beautiful spiritual wall is constructed. I am surrounded by the fidelity of G-d, walls that allow the humble to enter but resist the proud. For, without humility, no one can come to G-d. Sh’aul says, “No one can come to G-d unless they first believe that He exists.” To believe that He exists means to believe that He is greater than us, therefore in order to believe He exists we must humble ourselves. In deconstructing our pride we construct humility, the sukkah of salvation purchased with the blood sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua.
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
All things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
“'For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make covering for your soul; for it is the blood that makes covering for the soul.’”
The Jewish writer of the book of Hebrews makes a Midrash on the aforementioned text explaining its wider implications:
“And according to the Torah all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
—Hebrews 9:21-23—Hebrews 9:21-23
The writer of the book of Hebrews—approx. 70 A.D. around the time of the destruction of the Temple—uses the word forgiveness—remission—and not simply covering. Why? Because the sacrificial system was a foreshadowing of a blood covering that would not only cover our sins but also cleanse them eternally. That covering is seen in our Messiah in whose blood we are both covered and cleansed, not temporarily but eternally.
“After saying above, ‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the Torah—Instruction), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will.’ He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua HaMashiach once for all.”
Why have I started a Yom Kippur message with Scripture that doesn’t directly explain this Convocation—calling together? Because without the foundational premise of blood atonement—covering, cleansing--Yom Kippur has very little significance. We cannot, through the beating of our chests and the desperate prayers of this day, ever achieve right standing with G-d. Why? Because it is only through the blood that a right relationship can be restored. The Temple sacrificial practice could never atone for us eternally. Am I saying that our prayers and actions are invalid? No! But they are only valid if founded on the atoning—covering and cleansing—sacrifice of Messiah: it is through His blood that we are perfected and are being—in prayers and acts of repentance born of the Ruach HaKodesh—made Holy or sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
Now, let’s start again using one of the passages that describe this Holy Day, perhaps the Holiest of Jewish Days, Yom Kippur, also known as The Fast and The Day:
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of covering; it shall be a holy gathering for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of covering, to make covering on your behalf before the Lord your God. If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.’”
This passage covers concisely that which is covered in detail in Vayikra/Leviticus 16. Today Judaism no longer has a Temple or a sacrificial system and so the rabbis have introduced other practices to compensate for the inability for Israel to make the sacrifices that the Torah requires. While I might disagree with the orthodox Jewish perspective regarding the blood sacrifice, I find the additional rabbinical practices for this gathering symbolic of our Messiah Yeshua. The following are the basic regime of observances in which I see Messianic parallels or pictures of the Messiah Yeshua:
· It is taught by some that Historically Yom Kippur was they day on which G-d forgave Israel the sin of the worship of the golden calf. It is noteworthy that Aaron’s sacrifice on this day for the covering of his own sin as High Priest, was a bull, the counter point to the golden calf, a just and fitting reminder for Aaron. This is a wonderful picture of the mercy G-d shows us today when we turn from idolatry.
· Before Yom Kippur Jewish people seek forgiveness from those they have sinned against. This of course is a wonderful reminder of the words of Yeshua:
“’Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that another person has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to that person, and then come and present your offering.’”
· At the end of Yom Kippur the books of life and death are sealed, thus determining who will live for the next year. In Messiah we are already assured that not only will He be with us into the New Year but that we also have eternal life with Him in G-d. We are no longer awaiting punishment, we have G-d’s promise of eternal life. (Yochanan/John 3:16)
· Teshuva/returning to G-d, is practiced: using the steps 1. Regret 2. Cessation 3. Confession and 4. resolution/reconciliation. As Messianic believers we can see this practice as a reminder of our need to keep a short account with G-d and people, we should be aware of this daily and not just once a year on Yom Kippur.
· The Fast, begins on the eve of Yom Kippur and lasts until the following evening at Havdalah—the separation of the mundane and the sacred. Yeshua said:
“’Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.’”
– Mattitiyahu/Matthew 6:16-18 (NASB)
· Kol Nidrei a prayer at sundown. This is the one time of the year when it is acceptable to wear a Tallit—prayer shawl—at night; thus we surround ourselves with the symbol of G-d’s word--Yeshua—as we approach HaShem for forgiveness. This prayer asks for the annulment of rash vows, a clean slate for the year ahead. Followers of Yeshua can seek G-d at any time with concerns regarding rash decisions, we also know that, “If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
· Following the morning Torah reading, Yizkor, a prayer for lost loved ones is recited. In Messiah we trust that our believing loved ones are eternally in His presence, awaiting the resurrection and the Olam Haba—World to Come.
· Musaf—afternoon prayer service, recounts the Yom Kippur rite as performed in the Temple at Jerusalem according to Vayikra/Leviticus 16. We should never forget the high price that must be paid for sin. This is a poignant reminder of Messiah Yeshua’s sacrificial death on a Roman cross.
· Mincha—evening prayer. Prior to the final prayers the book of Jonah is read. The book of Jonah tells the unfinished story of the Jewish prophet’s struggle with G-d’s mercy toward others: we see the continued work of G-d to redeem Israel—who are represented by the frustrated prophet.
· Ne’ilah—closing of the doors. This final prayer is the opportunity to seal our names in the book of life. The Shofar sounds the final sound and the day is complete. In Messiah we are assured of our place, written in the lamb’s blood, in the lamb’s book of life. When we hear the final shofar, we will rejoice because for us it will be the sound of gathering and reconciliation to G-d, the beginning of the Olam Haba—World to Come.
“And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last shofar: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
—1 Corinthians 15:52
Examining the text:
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of covering; it shall be a holy gathering for you, and you shall humble your souls…”
This was to be a gathering of the people of Israel, a time when every member of Israel was to humble themselves in repentance before the L-rd. Traditionally the term humble your souls/flesh is understood to infer the practice of fasting, this lead to the Holiday being known by both the name Yom Kippur—Day of Covering—and the name Ha-Tsom—the Fast. In addition to this, some call this gathering Ha Yom—the Day—in reference to the Day of Judgment. The instruction to humble your soul, can also be understood as a literal command to have humility of heart before G-d, after all it is conceivable that one might fast without humility: in fact that is the very thing Yeshua warns His disciples not to do (Mattitiyahu/Matthew 6:16-18 ). Humility is an action of the heart and not the flesh alone. Fasting is to be an outward symbol of that which emanates from the heart.
“Present an offering by fire to the Lord.”
Leviticus chapter 16 details and the function of the Priesthood as the High Priest officiates over the offerings of Yom Kippur. There are a litany of covering sacrifices and offerings that show the need for all things to be covered before the Holy One of Israel.
1. the High Priest makes covering for the Holy of Holies
2. he makes covering for himself
3. he makes covering for the people
4. he makes covering for the Mishkan—tent of meeting
5. he makes covering for the altar
6. he sends out the scapegoat which carries the sins of Israel
7. he sacrifices the rams for himself and the people to make a covering
Covering is made for both the people and the inanimate objects of the Tent of meeting. We see here the evidence that all things are affected by the entering of sin into the world. The Scriptures say that creation groans for its redemption. If Rosh Hashanah is the traditional day of the creation of humanity, perhaps Yom Kippur commemorates the need for sacrificial covering that arose when Adam and Eve sinned, after all they left the garden wearing skins. This covering was also temporary, a precursor to the temporary symbolic covering of Israel’s sacrificial system. The Scapegoat was sent into the wilderness each year alive, carrying the sins of Israel, perhaps metaphorically seeking out the Messiah who would one day take all sin upon Himself.
“’You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of covering, to make covering on your behalf before the Lord your God. If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.’”
This is obviously and firstly an instruction not to work. Israel was to spend its day focusing on G-d and in contemplative introspection considering how far short they had fallen from His glory. This is also an important revelation to all people, in that nothing we could ever do, that is, no work of our own can redeem us, cover us. This is affirmed by the words, “to make covering on your behalf.” We need G-d to make covering for us. This is yet again a foreshadowing of the gospel message, “it is by faith you are saved and not by works, lest anyone should boast of his own ability to save himself.” G-d’s part, is our reconciliation to Himself. Our part, is to have the humility to accept His part. He is King regardless, those who humbly admit their need for His covering and cleansing through Messiah will remain inside the camp, those who do not will be cut off from G-d’s people—the Hebrew means destroyed. This is as true today as it was then, only it is not a temporary earthly existence we speak of but rather an eternal one; either an eternal remaining or an eternal cutting off.
Yeshua’s sacrifice, our covering and our cleansing:
“Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will write them,”
He then says,
“And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.”
Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
All the Yom Kippurs leading up to Yeshua’s death were coverings awaiting cleansing. Yeshua’s sacrifice brought cleansing to all that had gone before and all that would be in the future so that anyone who believes in Him might know without a doubt that his sin is forgiven eternally. This new covenant sealed in the blood of Yeshua means that the symbolic act of covering that had gone before, but could not cleanse, is no longer needed. Where there is true eternal forgiveness, there is no longer any need for the temporary covering of the sacrificial system. This should come as good news to Jews and Christians, after all there is no longer a Temple on earth, but, Messiah has made a way for us, so that we may enter into the very presence of G-d, into the Holy place of the Temple in the heavens.
Tradition and the Scarlet thread:
At the time of Herod’s Temple, it is said that the scapegoat of Yom Kippur had a scarlet cloth tied to it prior to being released. If the goat returned and the cloth had turned white, it was believed that this meant that G-d had forgiven Israel her sin. The Talmud inadvertently gives affirmation to Yeshua by telling us that for forty years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the goat returned with the cloth still scarlet because of Israel’s great sin against G-d. It is interesting to note that it was approximately 30 A.D. when Yeshua died—the final Yom Kippur Sacrifice. Forty years later in 70 A.D. Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple. Perhaps the scapegoat had been trying to tell us something? Maybe if we had listened to his bleating we would have heard him say, “You’ve been looking to the wrong goat.” Yeshua is the sacrificial covering for Yom Kippur and the cleansing lamb of Passover, He enfolds all the sacrifices of Israel, He has brought them to an end. His sacrifice is all we need.
“’Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.’”
“Where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
Good is Not Always Happy: A Rosh Hashanah Message (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:24-25 Bamidbar/Numbers 29:1)
L’shana tovah—for a good year
“Tell the people of Israel, ‘in the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai.’”
-Vayikra/Leviticus 23:24-25 CJB
“Jews don’t say, ‘Happy New Year!’”
—Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Rabbi Benjamin is absolutely right, Jews don’t say “Happy New Year,” and for good reason. Instead we say, “L’shana tovah tikatayvu,” or “L’shana tovah.” So how does that translate? In English it is best translated, “for a good year,” or, the full greeting translates as, “for a good year as you are inscribed.” Inscription refers to the belief that good Jews are inscribed in the Book of the Righteous for the year ahead. This greeting has developed as a result of the rabbinical teaching concerning the opening of three books in the heavens at the beginning of the Yamim Noraim—Days of Awe: the book accounting for the wicked, the book accounting for the righteous and the book accounting for those who hang in the balance. It is thought that there is time in the Days of Awe, prior to Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—to perform enough mitzvoth--righteous deeds--and acts of repentance to sway the odds in ones favor and enter into the book of the righteous for the year ahead. This is in part, based on Daniel 7:10 and finds a parallel in the New Covenant Scriptures:
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
Revelation 20:12 NASB
As Messianic Jews, we understand that nothing we do can make us right with G-d, because the Temple sacrifice no longer exists, and even if it did, the moment we sin again it becomes ineffective. The rabbi Shaul the apostle writes, “without the shedding of blood there can be no (continuing) remission of sin,” (Hebrews 9:12) therefore G-d sent His Son Yeshua—the pure lamb of G-d—to die for us, and upon receiving this free gift of G-d’s sacrifice we can be assured of our place in the lamb’s book of life—the book of the righteous—(Revelation 13:8-10) not only for the year ahead but also for all eternity. In Yeshua’s sacrifice we are assured that our place in the Olam Haba—World to Come, eternal life—has been sealed. Therefore we may say, “L’shanah tovah ki-nikhtavnu!”—“for a good year (eternity), you have been inscribed!” (John 3:16-20)
Why the statement, “for a good year?” Firstly, wishing someone a good year means to wish that they walk in righteousness. We may find that at times we are quite happy in our sinful actions. We can be happy while sinning, but we can never be good. On the other hand an act of righteousness may lead to unhappiness, for example: a person might shield a child from an oncoming vehicle, and in the process permanently damage themselves. The subsequent pain from the injury will not bring happiness, but the good done may well bring the child’s family closer to HaShem—G-d.
As I have previously stated, Messianic Jews understand that in Messiah we have already been inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life through the sacrifice of Yeshua (Revelation 21:27). This knowledge should remind us that Messiah is at work in us and that with every thought, inclination and action we represent His name. With this in mind we are wise if we walk before the L-rd with appropriate awe in the wonderful knowledge of our security in Him. Therefore the Days of Awe are given an additional meaning for us.
So what is Rosh Hashanah? Is it the same as Yom Teruah or Zikhron Teruah?
The Torah calls this Holiday Zikhron Teruah and Yom Ha-Teruah, meaning, the remembrance of trumpet sounds or the day of the trumpets sounding (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:24-25: Bamidbar/Numbers 29:1).
After Israel’s return from Babylon the term Rosh Hashanah began to become more popular. This may be due to the fact that the Babylonian word Tishrei means beginning. Tishrei of course had become the name for the seventh month in the Hebrew Calendar, therefore there seems to be a logical correlation.
Over the centuries rabbinical tradition accepted Rosh Hashanah as one of four New Years’, however Rosh Hashanah became the favorite due to the fact that various traditions saw it as the day commemorating Creation or the day that human beings were created. Some also taught that this was the day that the Torah was given. Up until the present day Rosh Hashanah is the most commonly used name for this festival.
Yom Ha-Teruah—the day of the sounding of trumpets—is one of the Biblical titles for this feast (Bamidbar/Numbers 29:1)—also called Zikhron Teruah, Memorial of blowing trumpets (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:24-25). The emphasis of the feast is on the sounding of trumpets and the bringing of a sacrifice to be offered to the L-rd by fire. The sounding of the shofar at Rosh Hashanah celebrations today is linked to this Scriptural edict.
During the time of the second Temple, Silver trumpets were used during this festival—some believe them to have been hammered out of the shekels brought to the L-rd for the redemption of the first born. Following the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. The Rabbi’s began to modify Judaism and its celebrations to meet the changing needs of the Jewish Diaspora. One of the changes made was that of emphasizing the use of the Shofar –rams horn—as the festival trumpet for Yom Teruah. In addition, because there was no longer a Temple where the sacrifice of fire could be made, the rabbis introduced prayers of petition and repentance, adding to synagogue liturgy and creating traditions such as taslich--casting lint and debris from ones pockets into an open body of water--in order to find an alternative to the now missing sacrificial aspect of the Yom Teruah celebration. Messianic believers understand that Yeshua has filled this sacrificial obligation—amongst other—in His death on the cross.
Three key ideas have become part of the liturgical practice of Judaism regarding Rosh Hashanah: G-d’s Kingship/Malkayot, Remembrance/Zikhranot and Shofarot/Trumpet sounding. These adaptions also give weight to the preference for calling the Holy day, Rosh Hashanah. Celebratory foods such as apples and honey were also added to give the holiday a fresh lease on life. The changes made have enhanced this beautiful festival, and when seen in the light of Messiah, both the ancient practice of Yom Ha-Teruah or Zikhron Teruah and the modern practice of Rosh Hashanah join together to offer Yeshua’s disciples a wealth of symbolism that reflects His Gospel message.
The shofar/rams horn, is linked by traditional rabbinical teaching to one of the central accounts of Judaism, the Akedah—binding—of Isaac. For Messianic believers this is an obvious type for Messiah Yeshua, seen represented both in the willing Son Isaac (37 years old) and the provision of the ram. Yeshua, the literal lamb of G-d, was previously the literary ram of G-d. It is interesting to note that when we say the blessing for the shofar we refer to the voice of the rams horn--l’shmoa kol shofar. We know that the Hebrew d’var—word, voice, intention—refers to Messiah Yeshua (John 1:1). Therefore we hear in the sounding of the ram’s horn, a kinetic symbol of the voice of G-d with us. We are reminded that Yeshua has said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27)
Traditionally there are four sounds of the shofar:
Tekiah—a long single blast (Symbolizing the Kings coronation)
Shevarim—three short broken blasts (A call to repentance)
Teruah—Nine staccato blasts (An alarm, to awaken the soul)
Tekiah ha-Gadol—a great long blast (A unifying blast, a culmination, the last trumpet)
The custom is to first blow Tekiah, followed by Shevarim, followed by Teruah, culminating in Tekiah ha-gadol. It is traditional to blow the shofar one hundred times at Rosh Hashanah. This is due to a rabbinical discussion regarding the Torah term Teruah. Some traditions give other explanations that reflect a numerological meaning within the names of certain angels, none of these explanations have any relevance in light of what is a very simple instruction from G-d, “Blow trumpets!”
The Sound of the trumpet is used in Israel for the following reasons:
· A call to repentance
· To call the people together for celebration
· To warn the people of danger
· A cry of mourning
· To call the people together to prepare for war
· To proclaim a new king
· As an instrument of praise to Adonai
· To commemorate the new moon at Rosh Chodesh—head of the month.
Rosh Hashanah begins the Yamim Noraim—Days of Awe: a time of introspection and repentance before G-d. The shofar is said by the famous rabbi Maimonides, to have a hidden message that suggests to say, “Sleeping ones! Awaken from your sleep! Slumbering ones! Awaken from your slumber! Examine your deeds. Remember your Creator and do teshuvah—repentance.” The writings of this great rabbi reflect the words of the New Covenant:
“Wherefore He—G-d—says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Messiah shall shine upon you.”
Both Yeshua’s favorite prophet Yeshiyahu/Isaiah and the New Covenant Scriptures tell us of another shofar call, one that reflects all of the aforementioned reasons for the sounding of the trumpet of G-d:
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great trumpet shall be blown; and they shall come
that were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and they that were outcasts in the land of Egypt; and they shall worship Adonai in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last shofar: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:52
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the shofar of G-d: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the L-rd in the air: and so shall we ever be
with the L-rd. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
I Thessalonians 4:16-18
Have you been inscribed in the Lamb’s book of Life, sealed for eternity? If not, the gift of G-d is beautifully simple to receive:
· Acknowledge that G-d is King of the Universe, King over you (Exodus 20:1-5; Romans 10:13; Acts 4:12, Hebrews 11:6).
· Confess to Him that you are a sinful human being (1 John 1:9).
· Accept the sacrifice of His Son Yeshua the Messiah (John 3:16).
· And you will be saved. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9; Romans 10:13).
Then send me an email so I can help direct you to other disciples of Yeshua who can guide you as you grow in your new faith.
©2013 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,