May/June 2012 – Reflections on Parashat Vayikra
Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue Newsletter
Volume 28, Number 5 May/June 2012 Iyar/Sivan 5772
**Free Beginning Hebrew Classes start May 12
**”Promised Land” Israeli surf movie at 2 locations, May 13 & 19
**Shavuot Service with Youth Confirmation graduates, May 26
Reflections on Parashat Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1–5:26
by Aaron Kasdan, Synagogue Intern
Sha’arei Shalom, Cary, North Carolina
Vayikra, the deathbed of so many well-intentioned attempts to read through the entirety of the Tanakh, begins with some tedious details. Animals; grains; categories; burned; cut; mixed; cooked; not the leaven; don’t forget the salt; lobes; kidneys; entrails; inside the camp; outside the camp; on the altar; in an ash heap; and just how much blood is in a “sprinkle”? It’s no wonder why contemporary readers find this book so perplexing: where do the concepts of animal sacrifice and ritual purity fit into our 21st century sensibilities? I’m certain this information was valuable then, but what is its import now? In this commentary, I will not delve into the direct meanings of these individual offerings, or the continuities and augmentations of our avodah to the Lord through the work and lens of Yeshua’s sacrifice. Instead, I will focus on the foundation beneath what the Lord “called” to Moses, the assumptions that we often take for granted when considering such texts. While our mode of worship may differ greatly from the practice of ancient Israel, there are certain continuous truths about the direction and directives of our worship.
First, avodah/service is for God.
Our service is to the Lord. When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord (Vayikra 1:2). The motive for all ritual, sacrificial, and moral instruction within scripture is God-directed. Pictured with every offering is an interaction between the individual and the Lord. …it shall be accepted before the Lord; a pleasing aroma to the Lord; make atonement for him before the Lord; etc. It may seem too simple a lesson, but it is apparently not too evident to emphatically and repeatedly verbalize: the intent of these offerings is to facilitate Israel’s relationship with the Lord, communally and individually. Our avodah is simply about our relationship with the Lord. Whether it be a facilitation of some sort (atonement), celebration and thanksgiving (firstfruits), praise or petition, all service, no matter the form, is about our relationship with God. It’s possible to sing without our relationship to God in view. It’s possible to refrain from sin without it being an offering of ourselves to God. It’s even possible to pray without being aware of talking to the Lord. All service, is for the Lord. We are to do everything (including explicit avodah) as for the Lord (Colossians 3:17, 23-24). It doesn’t matter what you do if it’s not directed toward God.
In tandem with this is a second truth: our relationship with God needs work.
Our relationship with the Lord is in need of facilitation, maintenance, effort. There’s something about this relationship that takes work, something uneven, something that needs to be addressed. We are in need of atonement, restitution, and cleansing. Why? God is holy in nature. What are we? Unclean at best, rebellious more often. Atonement is a necessity: holiness and impurity are incompatible. Grace is needed: man cannot breach the gap between ourselves and God. Grace is provided: grain, blood, and sweat are simply not eternal currency; the Lord is receiving something in exchange for something much greater. All of this adds up to one truth: the gap between us and God, which is only bridgeable by God, has been bridged out of his kindness. In no way is the blood of a goat effective atonement for sin; it just doesn’t add up. What the Lord is offering to Israel is beyond what they can pay. The work that only God could do, he has done. It doesn’t matter what you do if God is not directed toward you.
Finally, we uncover a third truth: G-d has a way he desires to be worshipped.
Our service must follow God’s instruction. Worship must always align with the character of the Object, and the Lord provides detailed instructions which speak to his character. Do it this way, not that way. But does it matter if the priest were to sprinkle 17 times instead of 7? Apparently, yes. Though we may not understand the symbolism and purpose of every nuance of Israel’s ancient avodah, it is clear that the Lord has a certain way in which he desired to be worshiped. These instructions were not meant to be exacting: the goal in view was not a perfectly executed sacrifice, but the realization of purpose in the act of perfectly following the Lord’s will. It is not a simple animal plus effort equals atonement equation; it is obedience to the Lord equals the opportunity for relationship. It is not a divine farce, a bar set unbelievably high to teach humility. It is not a guessing game, but lovingly laid out instruction for us to follow. It is participation, guided by the Lord, into a dynamic relationship with the Holy One. This requires some direction: offer your best; do not attempt to dwell in impurity and purity at the same time; live at peace with others; etc. There are rituals, instructions, guidelines, and yes, necessities to one’s relationship with God. But God provides them, and assures us we can follow through. Even in the midst of human obedience, where it is hard for many to find God’s grace, we see the Lord’s care shine brightly.
It doesn’t matter what you do if God is not directing it.
It doesn’t matter what you do if it’s not directed toward God: without real, focused attention on the Lord, there is no purpose to worship in any form. It doesn’t matter what you do if God is not directed toward you: there is an unbridgeable gap between God and man, and our worship is testimony of his grace to bridge it. And it doesn’t matter what you do if God is not directing it: our obedience is meant to direct us to God’s provision, not to instill regulation to our worship, but to lead us to relationship in service. The motive (for God), the means (grace from God), and the method (God’s direction) all add up to a beautiful picture: God not only cares for our avodah, but cares for us in it.
May 12-June 23 Beginning Hebrew Class, Saturday, 1:15-2:30pm. Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn the language of the Bible and the Siddur. Free! Taught by Rabbi Barney in the Social Hall of KA. Also learn the liturgy better as we use the Prayer Book as our text. All welcome including kids to this 6-week course.
May 13 (Sunday, 4pm) & May 19 (Saturday), 6pm. “Promised Land” Israeli surf movie: at the San Diego Surf Film Festival on Sunday, May 13, 4pm and at Journey Community Church in La Mesa on Saturday, May 19. See Israel through the eyes of Israeli pro surfers, 3-time world champion Tom Curren and even our own surfing Rabbi Barney! More info and tickets at promisedlandthemovie.com. Invite your Jewish/Israeli friends to these great events!
May 26, Saturday, 7:30pm. KA Shavuot Service. Come out for this joyous celebration of the giving of the Torah plus the giving of the Ruach/Holy Spirit. There will be lots of music and dance as well as important liturgy for the holy day. Youth Confirmation Class graduates will be honored. All this followed by our Mt. Sinai Ice Social to celebrate the “milk of the Word.” Invite a friend!
TBA, KA Music and Dance Teams at SD County Fair. Zemer Yeshua and Nagila B’ariel will give a special program in this open air concert. Bring the family and invite your friends to this great outreach event!
June 22, Friday, 5pm- Sunset. Shabbat at the Shores. Welcome in the summer season with this great sunset service at La Jolla Shores on the grassy area by the main lifeguard tower. Bring your dinner, a chair or blanket as we celebrate Shabbat together at this beautiful location. Bring your surfboard for a 4pm surf session with the Rabbi at the checkered flag!
July 19-22. UMJC International Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Join hundreds of messianic believers from around the globe for this annual gathering. Special concerts, workshops and fellowship with the mishpacah. Conference details and hotel information at umjc.org.
Aug 9-11. Asheville Music Festival (AMF). Asheville, North Carolina. Three days of continuous live music from across the Messianic Jewish international community. Special focus on emerging new groups. For registration & lodging info go to AMF12.com
Shabbat Morning Services: at 3219 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., in Clairemont, Saturday, 10:30am. Join us for this uplifting time of worship, fellowship and study. Our current sermon series is “Zechariah—God Remembers” which is a chapter by chapter study of this amazing prophet from the Tenakh.
Children Shabbat School: Our children join us for the first part of the service, then break for different classes. Classes for ages 4 through High School which include a Bible lesson plus background on Jewish studies and Hebrew.
Dance Ministry: Beginning Dance Workshop is held every Shabbat, 10:00-10:25am in the upstairs classroom area. All welcome to learn!
Tuesday Minyan and Messianic Jewish Institute of San Diego: Corporate prayer from 6:30-7:00 as we lift up Israel and the needs of our synagogue. Class from 7:00-8:30. New class starting May 1: “Rishonim—Joshua & Judges”. Taught by Rabbi Kasdan. $60 fee per student (plus book fee) for this 9-week course. The MJISD classes can lead to a certificate of Messianic Jewish Studies. Call our office for further information.
“A Taste of Torah” Classes: Saturday 9:00-10:00am. This survey of the Torah class will take you through the Parsha in one year. Currently in Vayikra/Leviticus. A great way to learn the foundations of our faith! There is also a Spanish Torah Study at this same time. Contact Gabe Pacheco or Luciano Rivera for info.
Men’s Club: All men are invited to this Monday evening group (2nd and 4th at KA) for connecting, dialogue and encouragement on vital issues that we deal with today. Always some good discussion and study along with service projects for men to be involved with. Also a group meets every Wednesday 5am. Contact Frank Rosas or Rome Remigio for more information.
Sisterhood: This dynamic group of women meets monthly for study, friendship and service. Call the KA office for the latest info on the next luncheon and meeting. All women are welcome!
Barney Kasdan, Rome Remigio, Frank Rosas Luis Garabay, Patty Kolb, Tovik Liberman, Laurie Herlickman, Bob Haas
Office: Jan Folb
Prayer: Patty Kolb
Singles: Bob and Jeannette Haas
Translation: Paty Garibay
Ushers: Elisabeth Sant’ana
Youth/Education: Michael & Jeannie Stinton Intern: Yisrael Vazquez
Havurot/Small Groups (connect with the community!)
Del Cerro, Tony & Joan Savarese, every Fri, 6:30 pm. Cover dish.
Men’s Club, Rome Remigio every Wed, 5:00 am or 2nd and 4th Mondays at KA 7pm.
Encinitas, Michael & Jan Folb, 2nd & 4th Weds. 7:00 pm.
Carlsbad, Eddie & Yrena Niewald, 1st & 3rd Thurs. 7:00 pm.
Bay Park, Mike and Sylvia Ferson, every Thurs. 10 am.
Yachad (Singles Fellowship), Bob & Jeannette Haas, Various events planned.
Espanol, Luciano Rivera, Shabbat 4pm-sunset at KA upstairs. Potluck Havdalah.
Tijuana, Yisrael and Aviva Vazquez, 1sr & 3rd Weds plus last Friday, 7pm.
Sisterhood, monthly meeting.
Contact the KA office for more details and contact information.
If you would like to send a special love gift donation for our work within the Jewish community, please send it to:
P.O. Box 178755
San Diego, CA 92177
Thank you! And may God return a special blessing to you as you bless our people! (Genesis 12:3)
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