דבר אל־בני ישׂראל אישׁ או־אשׁה כי יעשׂו מכל־חטאת האדם למעל מעל ביהוה ואשׁמה הנפשׁ ההוא׃
והתודו את־חטאתם אשׁר עשׂו והשׁיב את־אשׁמו בראשׁו וחמישׁתו יסף עליו ונתן לאשׁר אשׁם לו׃
"Tell the people of Isra'el, 'When a man or woman commits any kind of sin against another person and thus breaks faith with Adonai, he incurs guilt. He must confess the sin which he has committed; and he must make full restitution for his guilt, add twenty percent and give it to the victim of his sin. (Numbers 5:6-7)
TRESPASSING AGAINST HASHEM.
What does it mean to trespass against HaShem? Can we really offend or hurt Him? Can we do Him physical harm? The answer might be found in the ideas of sin and guilt offerings. Sin offerings are required when an individual commits a sin against God unintentionally. Guilt offerings are set for specific transgressions like violating the sanctity of God’s altar, breach of trust, or when a person is unsure whether he has sinned or which sin he has committed. As such, we learn that we offend or hurt HaShem by violating the covenant he has set with us by breaking His commandments. Another way that we commit a trespass against the Almighty is when we hurt or wrong one of His children made in His image.
Rabbi Sforno has a particular twist on this verse. He says that this verse refers to one who steals from a convert to Judaism. Rabbi Sforno's rationale is quite simple. A natural Jew is born into Judaism. He has in a sense very little choice about his destiny. Being born into a Jewish family, from birth he inherits the covenant made with his fathers. A convert on the other hand makes a personal decision, a conscious choice to put himself under the yoke of the Torah. He did so because he heard of the beautiful Torah concepts and ideas, then he hungered and thirst for them as one who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Our Master Himself conveys a special blessing to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
"How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! for they will be filled." (Mat 5:6 CJB)
When we wrong such a person, we cause them to feel disillusioned; we set ourselves as a stumbling block in the way of the blind, which the Torah defines as a sin.
" 'Do not speak a curse against a deaf person or place an obstacle in the way of a blind person; rather, fear your God; I am Adonai. (Lev 19:14 CJB)
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DISCIPLESHIP
When we proclaim ourselves as believers, as followers of the Messiah, we take upon ourselves the duty and responsibility of representing Him in his great advocacy mission of redemptive hope. He came as the Light to the world, so we should be His Light to the world (Mat 5:14). He did not come to judge, so He has not sent us to judge!
I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who trusts in me might not remain in the dark. If anyone hears what I am saying and does not observe it, I don't judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (Joh 12:46-47 CJB)
IMITATION = DISCIPLESHIP
It has been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. As Jews, we should be honored in this day and age that so many of the gentiles are hungry for the Torah that HaShem has given us. It means that we might actually have done something right.
From the first century CE to the fourth, so many gentiles turned to the God of Israel and our Scriptures that we actually got taken over. Even today, many non-Jews are hungry to follow the God of Israel. It is therefore our responsibility to accept these and teach them just like the early disciples did in the first century CE.
CEREMONIAL VS INTERPERSONAL COMMANDMENTS
As our Master and Rabbi Yeshua taught us, it is important to practice the ceremonial commandments, such as eating kosher and remembering the Shabbat, but the best testimony that we can be in the spirit of HaShem is always through the sample of our lives. It is brought through the type of relationship that we conduct with others. It is also brought through honest business practices, charity, compassion, altruism, and showing mercy, patience and understanding.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things. (Gal 5:22-23 CJB)
A HIGHER STANDARD.
High-Priests were held to a higher standard than priests, and priests were held to a higher standard as the regular Israeli. Even today, as we are called a royal priesthood, we are held to the highest standard. We need to always think, “Others may, but I can’t!”
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 CJB)
It’s like a relationship between people, the closer they are together, the more they have the potential to hurt each other. As we come close to HaShem through holiness, we must take care not to break His commands.
A DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL?
I was talking with someone one day. This person was complaining that it seemed that the world had a double-standard when it came to Israel. “Yes, it is true!” I answered. “And we should take it as a compliment. It is leaders and teachers who are held to a higher standard.”
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, since you know that we will be judged more severely. (Jas 3:1 CJB)
I continued and said, “That they hold us to a different and higher standard should be seen as a compliment. Being who we are, we are held to that higher standard of the Torah, the higher standard of the Almighty God.
THE HIGHER STANDARD OF YESHUA.
As Yeshua taught His disciples, He was creating a group of believers whom He held to a standard higher than even that of the priests and the teachers of Israel. He said,
For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P'rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven! (Mat 5:20 CJB)
In Matthew 5, 6, and 7, He enumerated all sorts of examples of commandments for which He instituted a higher form of obedience.
NOTES FROM A MEDICAL INTERPRETER.
One of my days jobs is being a medical interpreter. Medical interpreters are taught to not only accurately interpret words in another language, but to also exactly emulate the spirit, the intonations, the mood, and even the facial expressions of the speaker they interpret for. We are required to do so whether we agree with what is being said or not. It is our job; it is our responsibility; our duty, and our mandate.
Thus is discipleship to the Master. While sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, He counts on us to accurately interpret His Words, and also to exactly emulate the spirit, the intonations, the mood, and even the facial expressions in which they were originally given. As disciples, we are required to do so whether we agree with what is being said or not. It is our job; it is our responsibility; our duty, and our mandate.
MAY WE ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT WE REPRESENT THE BETTER, HIGHER, AND GREATER STANDARDS OF THE KINGDOM OF THE KING OF KING AND THE LORD OF LORDS.
MAY WE BE ITS FAITHFUL AMBASSADORS, PRESENTING ITS BEAUTY THROUGH LIVES IMBEDDED AND IMBIBED IN THE PRECEPTS OF ITS TORAH.