Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.
Normally, the aftara read with this section of the parasha concerning the golden calf is 1 Kings 18, the section where Elijah challenges the prophets of Ba'al on Mt Carmel. But in certain years when parasha Ki Tisa is situated on the Shabbat after Purim, we read from Ezekiel 36. This particular Shabbat is usually called Shabbat Para Aduma, or the Shabbat of the Red Heifer. Such is the case this year. This is a tradition that dates back to when the Temple was still standing.
In parasha Ki Tisa, we read about the great sin of Israel with the issue of the golden calf. The golden calf could be viewed as the antithesis of the para aduma.
In this parasha, we also read how HaShem did not reject Israel because of this sin, but rather, chose to redeem them just for the sake of His own name. This very idea is echoed in Ezekiel 36, the passage chosen for such a Shabbat.
This non-rejection of Israel principle is a very important one. I have met many a person who told me that God has rejected His people of old, Israel, in favor of His new people, the Christians. They tell me that God did so because of Israel's constant disobedience that finally culminated in the killing of Yeshua.
It is my opinion that anyone who thinks that way has to really consider one thing: If God did so reject His own people whom he called beloved firstborn because of their disobedience, what will He do to those adoptees for their disobedience? Will He not eventually reject them also for their disobedience? With that perspective, I am always reminded of the words of our dear Master and Rabbi Yeshua who said:
For the way you judge others is how you will be judged -
- the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you.
(Mat 7:2 CJB)
Let us now see what this aftara tells us about it.
EZEKIEL THE PROPHET OF THE BABYLONIAN DIASPORA
The word of Adonai came to me: (Eze 36:16 CJB)
Ezekiel was the son of a priest. His whole life he had probably waited for the honor and privilege to have his turn at full service in the Temple. HaShem had something else for him as he was part of the fist deportation.
At the time he was taken, the Temple still stood and the people still had hope that things would turn around. The elders of the people used to come to the prophet to ask him for news from Jerusalem. They expected to hear good news, but all Ezekiel could offer was sad news.
HaShem conveyed graphic imagery of what the iniquity of Judah looked like. He compared it to the ritual state of a menstruating woman.
"Human being, when the house of Isra'el lived in their own land, they defiled it by their manner of life and their actions; their way before me was like the uncleanness of niddah.
(Eze 36:17 CJB)
This idea speaks of HaShem's compassion. The Torah prescribes for couples to separate during the woman's time of menstruation. It is only a temporary separation that is to end after one week. At the end of the week, the couple returns together. Sages have compared this time of separation and reuniting as a time of vow renewal where the separation caused a greater anticipation towards reigniting conjugal activities.
All in all, the imagery of HaShem sending His wife away in separation because of her "impurity" also speaks of the joy of the eventual return!
Speaking of this passage, Rashi says that it is,"... A defilement compared to that of a woman in the days of her impurity. Her husband waits anxiously for the contamination to pass, yearning for the time when he may come close to her once more."
Ezekiel describes the separation in those words:
Therefore I poured out my fury on them, because of the blood they had shed in the land and because they defiled it with their idols. I scattered them among the nations and dispersed them throughout the countries; I judged them in keeping with their manner of life and actions.
(Eze 36:18-19 CJB)
SECONDARY EFFECT OF THE DISPERSION
The Judean dispersion caused the people of the nations to lose respect for the God of Israel, who seemed to have been able to protect His people and His Land. Where was the God who defeated Pharaoh, Sisera, Sennacherib, and many others, but "fell" before Nebuchadnezzar?
When they came to the nations they were going to, they profaned my holy name; so that people said of them, 'These are Adonai's people, who have been exiled from his land.'
(Eze 36:20 CJB)
It is a truth that our actions can defile His Name. We should therefore live lives that sanctify His Name!
But I am concerned about my holy name, which the house of Isra'el is profaning among the nations where they have gone.
(Eze 36:21 CJB)
FOR THE SAKE OF HIS HOLY NAME
"Therefore tell the house of Isra'el that Adonai Elohim says this: 'I am not going to do this for your sake, house of Isra'el, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have been profaning among the nations where you went.
(Eze 36:22 CJB)
Not because they deserve it or because they are better than others, but for the sake of His Name, His reputation, and His witness to the world, He will save Israel.
His salvation of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral lands is supposed to be the witness of His great love, power, and compassion for His children and for the world.
THE BIG QUESTION
Many wonder, why is there a promise for Israel's salvation without mention of repentance?
Rabbi David Kimchi taught that Messiah will come without Israel's repentance beausie the end of days is at an appointed time. At the time of Messiah's coming, however, the Lord will send the first signs of Messiah. Rabbi Kimchi then says, "Once the footsteps of Messiah are heard, the majority of Jews will be galvanized into repenting, and the final stages of redemption will come."
I will set apart my great name to be regarded as holy, since it has been profaned in the nations -- you profaned it among them. The nations will know that I am Adonai,' says Adonai Elohim, 'when, before their eyes, I am set apart through you to be regarded as holy. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you from all the countries, and return you to your own soil.
(Eze 36:23-24 CJB)
THE WATERS OF PURIFICATION/YESHUA THE RED HEIFER
The prophet then alludes to the purifying waters Red Heifer.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your idols. (Eze 36:25 CJB)
The ritual of purification from impurity involves waters with the ashes of a red heifer. The Targum Yonathan, a commentary paraphrase of the Torah quotes Ezekiel 36:25 in this way: "And I will forgive your sins as though you had been purified by the waters of sprinkling and by the ashes of the heifer sin-offering, and you shall be cleansed of all your defilements."
The red heifer was offered outside the Temple just like Yeshua was executed outside the Temple. For this reason, the Book of Hebrews makes allusions to Yeshua fulfilling the role of the red heifer, thus He is the One who eventually purifies us at the end of times. (For more information on this listen to the teaching on Yeshua the higher red heifer clicking the link below.)
For the cohen hagadol brings the blood of animals into the Holiest Place as a sin offering, but their bodies are burned outside the camp. So too Yeshua suffered death outside the gate, in order to make the people holy through his own blood. Therefore, let us go out to him who is outside the camp and share his disgrace.
(Heb 13:11-13 CJB)
The promise of a new heart:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (
Eze 36:26 CJB)
The promise of His Spirit:
I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them. (Eze 36:27 CJB)
You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors. You will be my people, and I will be your God.
(Eze 36:28 CJB)
He is the only One One who can save us from our sins, uncleanliness, bad habits, bad thinking, selfishness, pride, murder, and from all the uncleanliness that inhabits our hearts.
I will save you from all your uncleanliness. I will summon the grain and increase it, and not send famine against you.
(Eze 36:29 CJB)
Promises of abundance in the Land:
I will multiply the yield of fruit from the trees and increase production in the fields, so that you never again suffer the reproach of famine among the nations.
(Eze 36:30 CJB)
A true repentant spirit loathes its former actions and practices:
Then you will remember your evil ways and your actions that were not good; as you look at yourselves, you will loathe yourselves for your guilt and disgusting practices.
(Eze 36:31 CJB)
This is all for His Name's sake!
Understand,' says Adonai Elohim, 'that I am not doing this for your sake. Instead, be ashamed and dismayed for your ways, house of Isra'el.'
(Eze 36:32 CJB)
"Adonai Elohim says, 'When the day comes for me to cleanse you from all your guilt, I will cause the cities to be inhabited and the ruins to be rebuilt. The land that was desolate will be tilled, whereas formerly it lay desolate for all passing by to see. (Eze 36:33-34 CJB)
All for a witness to the Lord:
Then they will say, "The land that used to be desolate has become like Gan-`Eden, and the cities formerly ruined, abandoned and wasted have been fortified and are inhabited!" Then the nations around you that remain will know that I, Adonai, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted what was abandoned. I, Adonai, have spoken; and I will do it.'
(Eze 36:35-36 CJB)
One of the great ideas was for the people of Israel to populate the world so that they could teach all about their God. These efforts have been hampered by many persecutions so that today the Jewish people represent maybe 1/2 of a percent of the world's population. In spite of this, the Abrahamic religious system and culture counts for 2/3, if not 3/4 of the world.
Somehow this is a great accomplishment.
PRAYING IN THE WILL OF GOD
"Adonai Elohim says, 'In addition, I will let the house of Isra'el pray to me to do this for them: to increase their numbers like sheep -- like flocks of sheep for sacrifices, like the flocks of sheep in Yerushalayim at its designated times, in this degree will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am Adonai.' " (Eze 36:37-38 CJB)
MAY IT BE SOON HASHEM, EVEN IN OUR DAYS!