ועשׂית בגדי־קדשׁ לאהרן אחיך לכבוד ולתפארת׃
"You are to summon your brother Aharon and his sons to come from among the people of Isra'el to you, so that they can serve me as cohanim -- Aharon and his sons Nadav, Avihu, El`azar and Itamar. You are to make for your brother Aharon garments set apart for serving God, expressing dignity and splendor. (Exo 28:1-2)
In the Havdala prayer (The prayer pronounced at the end of the Shabbat and which serves to distinguish between the Shabbat and the other days of the week) G-d is called: 'המבדיל בין קדש וחול/He That Makes Distinctions Between the Holy and the Profane'.
From the beginning Hashem has been the G-d of distinction. Each plant is created after its own kind and so is each animal. One day (the Shabbat) is set-apart from the other days of the week, and in the human world, man and woman are set-apart by different biological functions. Paul the emissary commented:
Not all living matter is the same living matter; on the contrary, there is one kind for human beings, another kind of living matter for animals, another for birds and another for fish. Further, there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the beauty of heavenly bodies is one thing, while the beauty of earthly bodies is something else. The sun has one kind of beauty, the moon another, the stars yet another; indeed, each star has its own individual kind of beauty.
(1Co 15:39-41 CJB)
Even within the Jewish people, not come under the same torah of the Torah. There is one Torah, but in reflecting Hashem's nature and character, this Torah also makes distinction, and applies differently from person to person. This is something that Western mentality doesn't feel comfortable with but there it is nevertheless. There are sets of rulings and laws that differentiate the High-priest from the regular priest; some that apply solely to those of the tribe of Levy and then to those from the family of Aaron. Certain properties such as kingship pertain to the tribe of Judah, while others only to kings. Finally, certain laws apply to men, others to women, some to soldiers, others to the proselyte, and finally to he who is a stranger in the Land. Hashem judges each of us according to our performance in the station He has assigned to us, so these distinction have nothing to do with the degree of Hashem's love for us.
Paul addresses the subject of murmuring against the station we have been assigned in Hashem's Kingdom in the following words:'...
Has the potter no right to make from a given lump of clay this pot for honorable use and that one for dishonorable? (Rom 9:21)
Modeling after the Torah, our society uses the same types of distinction. Though none of us is above the law, for the sake of the harmonious functioning of our society, for an agreed duration, we invest people with a particular set of authorities that we agree to obey. Such are Presidents, Senators, Governors, judges, the Police Force, the Military, and even within any commercial, religious, or societal venture, some people are vested with certain powers in order to fulfill the agreed upon goals of the group. The only difference between man's world and Hashem's world is that in G-d's world Hashem chooses the goals, the dynamics, and the duration.
In this case Aaron, Moshe's brother, is chosen to be High-priest, and his descendants after him dedicated to become the priesthood of Israel." As such they are set apart for the honor and glory of representing Hashem on earth but as such, they also have to forfeit the privileges of owning land, of having a lucrative activity, and of basically living their lives for themselves like all other Israelites are allowed to do. This decision is made without the agreement of the future generations of the children of Aaron and regardless of their inner character. Levite priests are also given a certain amount of responsibility, and as Hashem's representatives on earth, their lives need be exemplary. They will be punished for indulging in things that the regular Israeli does without fear of punishment. They have to live by the principle of, 'Others may, but I can't!
James, the brother of the Master touched on that issue concerning those who teach the Torah. He said,
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, since you know that we will be judged more severely.' (Jas 3:1).
He says that teachers are judged by a different set of laws. Yes, even in our society, teachers, leaders, law officers, military officers, and government officials are judged by a different set of laws from that of common folks. Politicians appear before the Senate; soldiers before a court-martial, etc ... and at the end of the day (no pun intended) whatever favorable or unfavorable sentence man bestows upon us, we appear before Hashem's Tribunal who renders judgment according to the Laws of the Torah which we are meant to have agreed to live by.
It seems that Hashem loves to have a place for everything and everything in its place. He doesn't seem to like confusion. Even time is confined to a certain order. Mo'adim, Jubilees, Festivals, and Holy Days are immovably set in stone. king Solomon also added his own observations of times and seasons when he said,
'For everything there is a season, a right time for every intention under heaven --a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to discard, a time to tear and a time to sew, a time to keep silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his efforts? I have seen the task God has given humanity to keep us occupied. He has made everything suited to its time; also, he has given human beings an awareness of eternity; but in such a way that they can't fully comprehend, from beginning to end, the things God does.(Ecc 3:1-11)
Whereas we may claim to disdain the principle of distinction between people and would want to declare everyone equal, our society is based on the very principles of distinction mentioned above. Spouses and family members have rights on our person and possessions that are not given to others. It is the natural run of things as we are created after Hashem's image (after Hashem's character and nature).
Why did I muse on this subject today? I do not really know except for the fact that love dealing with observing the ways of my God. One thing I am reminded though is that in Yeshua is fulfilled the prophecy that Israel will be set-apart (given a different status) from the rest of the world in order to become a Kingdom of Priests (Ex 19:6), a distinctive people chosen from the world to serve Him in a certain way. Peter remembered this when he spoke to the mixed (Jews and Gentiles) congregation of Rome in the following words,
But you are a chosen people, the King's cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.(1Pe 2:9)
As such, just as it is with Aaron and his descendants, all those of us who claim to serve the Master, the rabbi from Nazareth, the Messiah from Hashem, have been, through the principle of distinction, set-apart from the world and now hold a favored position with Hashem. While favored, this position holds certain responsibilities and as such, we are to live by a higher set of rules. In essence, as disciples, we must conduct our lives remembering that, "Others may, but we can't'. May we all understand the heavy responsibility that we bear toward the unbelievers when we claim the name of our Master for our own.
Here are some of the things Yeshua demanded of His disciples, elements and lifestyles that were to set them apart from others. Oddly enough these resemble the standards set out for the Levitical priesthood. As the disciples followed the lifestyle prescribed for them by the Master even after His ascension, the Messianic movement grew till it became a great influence on the world until today. Maybe we should learn something from this....
Then Yeshua told his talmidim, "If anyone wants to come after me, let him say 'No' to himself, take up his execution-stake, and keep following me. For whoever wants to save his own life will destroy it, but whoever destroys his life for my sake will find it. (Mat 16:24-25)
Everyone will know that you are my talmidim by the fact that you have love for each other."
If someone wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well! And if a soldier forces you to carry his pack for one mile, carry it for two! When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something from you, lend it to him. "You have heard that our fathers were told, 'Love your neighbor -- and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. What reward do you get if you love only those who love you? Why, even tax-collectors do that! And if you are friendly only to your friends, are you doing anything out of the ordinary? Even the Goyim do that! Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Sell what you own and do tzedakah -- make for yourselves purses that don't wear out, riches in heaven that never fail, where no burglar comes near, where no moth destroys. For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also.(Luk 12:33-34)
These are just a few; I'm sure you can find many others.