The Crown of Separation

Be encouraged all of you in lockdown due to the coronavirus. The nation of Israel has also been tightening restrictions that have resulted in a severe lockdown for almost a month. Initially, as a confirmed extrovert, I thought this would drive me crazy, but instead I’ve actually been relishing these days!

For sure, the new lifestyle for this season could be seeking new distractions or even depression or complaining, which I’ve heard some engage in. However, I’ve found the sweet yet powerful presence of G-d so manifest during recent times of worship and waiting on Him, diving into His Word, prayer calls online and long walks, even if they are only around the block.  So lately I’ve considered this corona season a time set apart for refreshing and above all learning to discern the voice of G-d. And this week’s Parashat Ha Shavua, Torah portion of the week, confirms this!

As usual every Shabbat, while reading the Parasha, the L-rd allows certain words or concepts to spark a gentle curiosity, leading to hours of reading and searching the Scriptures. This week’s Parasha “Tsav” describes the commandments of required sacrifices and the ordination of the priests, Aaron and his sons.

“He also placed the turban on his head, and on the turban, at its front, he placed the golden plate, the holy crown, just as the L-rd commanded Moses.” Leviticus 8:9 

Naturally the word crown jumped off the page and a hidden message was revealed for this season. The Bible most often uses the word עֲטָרָה (atarah) or sometimes כֶּתֶר (keter) when referring to a crown, but in this week’s Parasha the word נֵזֶר (nezer) is used. This particular word is a sign of consecration or separation as a Nazarite. We see נֵזֶר again in the following verses:

They made the plate of the holy crown נֵזֶר of pure gold, and inscribed it like the engravings of a signet, “Holy to the L-rd.” Exodus 39:30

Throughout Numbers 6 when the vows of a Nazarite are described, this phrase is used, “All the days of his separation נֵזֶר, he is holy to the L-rd.” 

Psalm 132 speaks of the destiny of the children of Israel.  Of course the born again Christians who are grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel are included in this promise. In this Song of Ascents, the Psalmist vowed, “I will not rest until I find a dwelling place for the L-rd and when I find it, there I will worship the Mighty One of Jacob.”  We always sang this next phrase in the synagogue where I grew up, “Arise O L-rd, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength.”  

Then the L-rd vowed in Psalm 132:12-18, “If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I will teach them, their sons will also sit on your throne forever.  For the L-rd has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place. This is My resting place forever. I will abundantly bless her provision and satisfy her needy with bread.  I will clothe her priests with salvation and her godly ones will sing aloud for joy. There I will cause the horn (strength) of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for My anointed.  His enemies I will clothe with shame but upon himself his crown will shine.”

Upon reflecting on these verses, I found great comfort reading of G-d’s promised provision if we keep His covenant and testimony and that He will keep us strong and that He has prepared a light for His מָשִׁיחַ (Mashiach), Anointed One. G-d will deal with our enemies, even the corona virus, but his crown נֵזֶר will flourish.

After coming out of Egypt, we were in a time of isolation in the wilderness and yet in Exodus 19:5-6 G-d declared, Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

In conclusion, Zechariah 9:16 brings great hope by saying, “And the L-rd their G-d will save them in that day as the flock of His people. For they are as the stones of a crown נֵזֶר, sparkling (lifted up) in His Land.”  

So all this is to say, don’t worry; our G-d has got us covered!  Use this season as a time set apart, consecrated for the L-rd and He will provide for you, keep you strong and cause you to flourish!