Weekly Torah Commentary – Tzav March 23, 2018

Torah reading:  Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36

Haftorah reading: Jeremiah 7: 21-28, 9:22-23

“Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out”  Leviticus 6:6

FireAltar

Many people find the study of Leviticus difficult as it deals with the sacrificial system, the Tabernacle and the priesthood.  What we need to understand is that every aspect of the physical Sanctuary has its counterpart in the sanctuary of God within us – our spirit.

The altar on which the continual fire was to be set was a visible physical one. As applied to us in the spiritual sense, this verse means that the fire of our love for God, though it cannot be measured outwardly, must nevertheless be outward.  Our love for God is to be of such a nature that it is evident to others in the way we live.

If a ‘fire for God’ burns continually in our spirit, what flows from that fire will be true righteousness, effective service.  A truly spiritual life is contagious.  It provokes others to reach out to a higher level of living for God.

Good works alone do not always testify to good character; but good character will always produce good works.  It is primarily the condition of our hearts that God is after.   Many good works can be done for ulterior or self-serving motives, or simply out of routine without thought of glorifying God.

Nothing great is ever accomplished in life without passion. Nothing great is ever sustained in life without passion. Passion is what energizes life. Passion makes the impossible possible. Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to honor God with my life today.” Without passion life becomes boring, monotonous and routine.

Passion is what mobilizes armies into action. Passion is what causes explorers to boldly go where no man’s gone before. Passion is what causes scientists to spend late night hours trying to find the cure to a dreaded disease. Passion is what takes a good athlete and turns him or her into a great athlete who breaks records.

Passion is an essential ingredient in a successful life – in the natural world and in the spiritual world. God created you with the emotions to have passion in your life and He wants you to live a passionate life.

Being passionate about God has nothing to do with either your personality or your age. Some of the most spiritual and inspiring people I’ve known – from fifteen to ninety-five – were as unique and different from each other as they could be, but in one characteristic they were all the same – they were passionate about God.  Their passion impacted me, inspired me, convicted me.  Have you met people like that?

Perhaps you may say, ‘I remember when I was passionate about God but I must admit I’m not quite that way now.’

Here are seven ‘passion killers’. Which one has robbed you of your passion?

1- Imbalance between your natural life and your spiritual life.  If all of your energies are spent on being busy, busy, busy with no time for God, you’ll lose your passion for God and passion for life.

2- unused talent – Talents are gifts from God. He did not give you special abilities just to sit on them and do nothing about it. Use it or you’re going to lose it.  This principle is easily seen in terms of the physical body. Unused muscles atrophy.

3-unconfessed sin – Few things rob your joy, your confidence and your passion, more quickly than guilt. You can’t feel guilt and passion at the same time because guilt by its very definition robs you of passion. Confess it, repent and ask forgiveness.

4-unresolved conflict – Conflict drains the passion right out of you. Do you ever start a day and it’s going to be a great day. You’re awake from the moment you get up.  You’re on the way out the door and you get in an argument with your husband, your wife or your teenager. All the zip goes out of your doo-dah. It’s like the air going out of a tire. Your passion disappears just as quickly. If you want the passion to be restored in your heart, in your life, you have to forgive. You have to let it go.

5- lack of community. Some lose their passion for God because they’re not spending time around other people who have a passion for God.  We need each other. We all stumble at times. So we all need people to help us up in our lives. The book of Ecclesiastes says it this way: “Two are better than one… because if one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”  Eccles. 4:9-10  If you want to keep your passion for God alive, you need to hang around people who are passionate for God !  It’s just that simple!

6- an unclear purpose –  Forgetting the purpose for your life is a sure way to kill your passion for life and for God. If you don’t know the purpose for life, why bother? Why put forth the effort? Why get out of bed? Life without purpose is activity without direction; it’s motion without meaning. Life without purpose is trivial, petty, and pointless.

Passion is waking up in the morning and jumping out of bed because you know there’s something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that God made you for and you’re good at; something that’s bigger than you are and you can hardly wait to get at it again. It’s something that you’d rather be doing more than anything else.

7- an undernourished spiritual life – you must intentionally nourish your spirit. If you don’t do it nobody else is going to do it for you. How do you do that?  Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Deut. 8:3

Do you know you can have a vibrant, energetic body but a shriveled up, puny spirit on the inside?  Reality check! Our human bodies have a time limit; our spirits don’t. Death is but the transference from the physical realm to the spiritual realm where true life awaits us.  Taking care of our physical body but neglecting our inner spirit is consummate foolishness. We must feed our spirits by reading and meditating on God’s Word, by prayer and personal quiet times alone with Him.

In Tune with Torah this week = How many of these ‘passion killers’ spoke to you? Will you do something about it?  To be a light to others, there’s got to be some fire in you!  This shabbat, make an honest assessment of yourself.  Are you passionate about God? Does the fire of His love affect the way you live?

Shabbat Shalom

 

 

 

Weekly Torah Commentary — Tzav March 14, 2014

TZAV Leviticus/Vayikra 6 – 8

In this week’s Torah commentary we read God’s command to Moses that the fire on the Sacrificial Altar must never be extinguished or allowed to go out.

“The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” (Leviticus 6:6)

We learn in Torah that God dwells in the hearts of those who love Him and keep His commandments and that His visible dwelling in the Tabernacle in the wilderness was a sign to Israel of His desire to live through them; that the nation would be a living tabernacle of His presence in the world.

We also know that everything in Torah has a message for us today, even those areas where it may seem difficult to find the relevance; areas like the sacrifices. This week’s Torah portion, as did last week’s, gives us yet another insight into the connection between the Tabernacle of old and ourselves.
The verse quoted above, states that the fire kindled on the Sacrificial Altar was to burn continually and was never to go out. If God dwells in your heart and in mine – and He does – then it follows that the fire of love for Him must be continually alive and burning within us as well.

Because the Sacrificial Altar was in the outer courtyard of the Tabernacle, the nation could see the smoke ascending to the heavens at all times. It was not a hidden fire by any means! Neither is our fire meant to be hidden! The fire of the ardent love of God in our hearts must be seen in an outward and open manner. How? By our behavior, by our demeanor, by our words, by our actions and reactions; in other words, by our daily life activities and decisions. Others should be able to know that we love our God.

How do we keep the love aflame?

First and foremost, the fire of love for God will not burn brightly in the person who spends little time in His presence. It is not enough to simply participate in ‘formal prayer’ or ‘book prayer’. Certainly ritual has its place, but it is not enough. The Torah says clearly that God wants us to know Him and to walk in His ways.

I ask you – how well would you ‘know’ your spouse if all you ever did was exchange formulated words each day, taken from a book someone else put together for your use?

It is difficult, if not impossible, to develop a burning love for God without spending regular time in ‘personal prayer’ – by that I mean, speaking to God in your own words, meditating on passages from the Torah, the Psalms, the Prophets, and listening for what He described to Elijah as ‘the still, small voice within.’

Some would say that God does not speak to us today. I vehemently disagree. He is speaking to us all the time. The question is: are we listening? Perhaps the bigger question is: have we learned HOW to recognize His voice in the midst of daily life?

Just as Shabbat goes out this week, the festival of Purim begins, commemorating the time when Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from destruction through prayer, fasting and approaching the King personally to present her request. She is a model of exactly what we have been discussing. Nowhere in the book of Esther do we read that she resorted to formula prayers. She prayer in her own words, crying out to God for the deliverance of her people from the decree of death. In turn, God showed her exactly what she was to do to participate in the deliverance He would grant in answer to her prayers.

Let us like Esther, learn to take every petition, every concern, every desire to Him in prayer.

In Tune with Torah this week = renewing our commitment – or making a new one – to spend at least ten minutes each day, hopefully more, conversing with God in our own words; talking with Him as with a best friend, for in fact, there is not better Friend than Him. And taking time to sit quietly, learning to listen to His still, small voice within us.

Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach