We continue our interruption in reading sequentially through the Torah for another week to observe Shemini Shel Pesach – the eighth and final day of Passover. The Sidra for this week is Deuteronomy 14:22- 16:17
The theme of Pesach is deliverance from slavery. Freedom is not simply release from bondage but coming into a place where we are free to enjoy our lives. In this passage we have laws of tithing, release from debt and freedom for slaves. This creates a society where no one feels they are being oppressed by anyone else. Pesach is also called Zman Herutanu – the Season of our Freedom. A free society is a fair society.
The people were commanded to bring a tenth of all their produce to an appointed place and store it so that Levites who had no land of their own and also foreigners, widows and orphans could be supplied with all their needs.
Every seven years any loan would be cancelled. This applied only to the Israelites. It dd not apply in the case of a loans to a foreigner. This did not mean that someone could shrink from lending to his needy brother Israelite when the seventh year was approaching. The loan should be generously made even if the year of the cancellation of debts was near. Hence poverty arising out of crippling debt could be eliminated.
If any Hebrew found themselves in a position where they needed to sell themselves to survive, they are to serve six years but on the seventh year are to be set free. They are not to be sent away empty-handed but full of the things they might need to start their life again as free people. However, if they don’t want to go because they love their master, whether they are male of female servants, the owner is to take an awl and pierce it through the servant’s ear onto a doorpost of the house and they will be a servant in that household forever.
Firstborn animals from the flock or herds are to be kept as a sacrifice to God. Firstborn sons are not to be put to work. The blood of any sacrifice is not to be eaten.
We are reminded again of the ordinances of Passover to commemorate the departure from Egypt. A lamb must be sacrificed and unleavened bread eaten for seven days.
Counting of the Omer and Shavuot (Feast of weeks)
When the first grain is harvested we count seven weeks and then the fiftieth day is Shavuot which is a festival of seven days of rejoicing.
This is to be celebrated each year as a time of rejoicing for seven days when all the produce is gathered in.
These were the three occasions the people were to appear before the Lord
Haftarat Shemini Shel Pesach הפטרת שמיני של פסח
The Haftarah portion associated with this week’s sidra is Isaiah 10:32-12:6. Redemption is the link between the Torah and Haftarah portions.
It is recognised that the Exodus from Egypt is the precursor of a much greater redemption. This passage speaks of a Redeemer yet to come from the line of Jesse – David’s father.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him and through him the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea Isaiah 11:9
This redemption will coincide with God regathering his people, not just from Egypt but from every land into which they have been exiled. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people – Isaiah 11:18 – which sounds remarkably like the return to Israel of the Jewish people which we are witnessing today.
There will be great joy and rejoicing in that time because God will be among us Isaiah 12:6
We can understand with hindsight that that the descendent of the House of David who will be filled with wisdom and understanding, and the Spirit of the Lord is none other than Yeshua the Messiah.
We can also be sure that the return to Israel of the Jewish people is prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes. The only question we might raise is that the Land of Israel to which people are returning is not at present a godly place. Just as when we were in the wilderness we ran after all sorts of idols which are not indigenous to our people. Israel boasts of being the gay capital of the Middle East and the immorality and corruption raises eyebrows even from people who come from liberal countries.
One of the idols that Israel is worshipping is the idea that peace with its neighbours and peace internally will be achieved by granting concessions to those who oppose its existence.
Israel will only be at peace when she turns to God and God will continue to raise up enemies until such time.
Scripture makes it clear that the turning to God will take place after the physical restoration. Then God will sprinkle clean water on us and cleanse us from all our sins Ezekiel 36:24,25 .The physical restoration comes first, then the spiritual.
Will that happen automatically? I think we all have a part to play in fulfilling it.
The greatest danger is that we may die before we see it.
So, the message for today is ‘Put your trust in Yeshua and you will be saved’. Acts 16:31 (TLV)
This article originally appeared on the BMJA website, April 22, 2022, and reposted with permission.