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MIKRA’EY KODESH
"Holy Convocations"
 Rabbi Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy
 

(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless otherwise noted)

"ADONAI said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra’el: 'The designated times of ADONAI which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated times.'" (Leviticus 23:1)

"Pesach - Season of our Deliverance"

"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes Pesach for ADONAI."
(Leviticus 23:5)

"Yeshua said to them, "This is what I meant when I was still alive with you and told you that everything written about me in the Torah of Moshe, the Prophets and the Psalms had to be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44, CJB)

Next to Isaiah 53, nowhere else is this statement of Yeshua’s more vividly demonstrated than in the Holy Convocations of Leviticus Chapter 23. The opening few lines of that chapter clearly teach that the Biblical Feasts, including Pesach (Passover) to Sukkot (Tabernacles), are "designated times of ADONAI " (verse 4). Historically, the Nation of Isra’el was to act as a repository of the wisdom and Word of HaShem. With his Called-out Ones acting as a "fishbowl", the surrounding nations were to learn about the Creator, the One True God of the Universe, from the everyday activities of the offspring of Avraham. This is one of the primary reasons that the Torah was graciously given to Isra’el.

In both Biblical and Modern Hebrew, the word for "appointed time" is "mo-eyd". Interestingly, this meaning conveys the sense of the "dress rehearsals" that occur before an actual play. In this way, HaShem masterfully designed the mikra’ey kodesh to act as dress rehearsals for his children. "Of what?" you might ask.

The Feasts of ADONAI are dress rehearsals of Messianic Redemption.

Our LORD Yeshua has literally and prophetically fulfilled the first four of the seven feasts mentioned in Leviticus 23; it is my belief that the Torah teaches that he will, likewise, literally and prophetically fulfill the final three at his soon to be second arrival. As the children of Avraham willingly and faithfully lived out HaShem’s yearly cycle of "mo-eydeem", the Spirit of the Holy One graciously opened their hearts to understand that, as his treasured possession, they were responsible to actively pursue a genuine, loving relationship with their "husband". It is this type of personal relationship that HaShem desired from his children, and to this end, the surrounding nations might also see the goodness and mercy of ADONAI, and seek to become one of his treasured possessions. Today, our responsibilities to our Holy God have not changed any more than he himself has changed.

History has demonstrated that in the fullness of HaShem’s timetable he sent his Only Begotten Son Yeshua into the world, to redeem fallen man, and make it possible to have a right relationship with our Heavenly Abba. This Messianic Redemption of ours, which was accomplished through the sacrificial death, burial, and miraculous resurrection of Yeshua our Savior, has been prophetically and historically displayed through the teachings of the Holy Convocations of Leviticus 23. It is, therefore, HaShem’s desire that these teachings become an integral part of our everyday lives, as we walk out the truths of our new identification in Messiah. To be sure, the Torah has demonstrated,

"Then he opened their minds, so that they could understand the TaNaKH" (Luke 24:45)

Shabbat notwithstanding, Pesach is the beginning of the biblical feasts of Leviticus chapter 23. The actual feast known as Pesach spans three separate, yet inextricably-inked feasts: Pesach, observed on the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan, HaMatzah (Unleavened Bread), observed on the fifteenth day of Nisan, and Bikkurim (Firstfruits), observed the day after the Sabbath of HaMatzah.

Commentary Contents:

-Traditional Judaic rejection of Yeshua as Messiah
-Did Yeshua Have a Passover Meal?
-Various other Passover questions, to include inquiries about Passover wine

Allow me to support my local Messianic Synagogue, Kehilat T’nuvah (The Harvest) of Denver, Colorado, by sharing a valuable resource with you. One of our faithful members has a very resourceful Messianic web site called "One in 3 YHVH 3 in One", found at this URL: http://geocities.com/Onein3YHVH3inOne/. His site contains, among other helpful links, a commentary detailing the important timeline of Yeshua’s movements especially observed during the proximity of the Passover. The precise link can be found here: http://www.geocities.com/onein3yhvh3inone/PesachHarmony.html. Please stop by and browse around if you feel inclined to do so. In my opinion, the work entitled ‘Pesach Harmony and Commentary’ is an insightful and well-written read.

(Take a look at this chronological chart [off site] showing what I believe to be a fairly accurate account of the "Passover Week")


Traditional Judaic rejection of Yeshua as Messiah

First let us turn to a somewhat specific list of reasons why Traditional Judaism rejects the belief that Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Messiah of Scripture. This list may prove helpful in addressing Anti-Missionary refutations. The Anti-Missionaries are those who reject, wholesale, the Gospel message and the notion of Jesus as the Christ. In all fairness, and with good intent, Traditional Judaism does NOT reject true belief in God, the One and Only Savior, nor does it reject the Scriptural notion of a personal and coming Messiah. While it is true that Judaism, like any religion, contains within its approaches a wide variety of opinions on some of the key Scriptural topics, spanning the stretch from, say, the Chabad Lubavitchers to the Reconstructionist, Judaism as a whole has historically remained fiercely monotheistic. And rightly so! For as Scripture accurately teaches, "God is One". No, my list is not aimed at Traditional Judaism’s views in general, only at their rejection of Jesus in particular. Two subsections on ‘Jewish belief based on national revelation’, and ‘Jews and Gentiles‘ are included for contextual reasons.

I am in no wise advocating a stereotypical approach to Traditional Judaism. Some Jews reject Jesus; other Jews freely embrace him. And yet others have made the matter personal and hidden so that no one but themselves truly knows their heart’s intentions.

But HaShem knows. And since the lines of demarcation, however, have been drawn it is time that as major religious factions Christianity and Messianism begin to understand why some Traditional views within a major faction such as Judaism are the way they are. To be sure, many Anti-Missionaries have taken an offensive (as opposed to defensive) approach to Christianity and/or Messianic Judaism by offering Traditional Judaism as a well-thought out refutation to the [New Testament] Gospel.

Traditional Judaism has the right to reject or accept the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah. All men have this religious right of free choice. But this feature is what makes the Gospel so wonderful! It is by free choice that we as mankind choose to embrace Yeshua as Messiah! And it is this important choice that opens the invitation to the very presence of HaShem into our lives as personal LORD. To be sure, as I have stated elsewhere in my commentaries:

HaShem’s intent is to draw us close to him in genuine, loving fellowship. To this end, he has designed the entire flow of the Torah to lead us to the goal of developing the kind of trusting faithfulness that produces obedience and surrender to his Son, Yeshua HaMashiach!  This is what Rav Sha'ul meant when he said in Romans 10:4 that "Christ is the end of the Law".  Here, as quoted from the KJV, the word "end" MUST mean "goal" in order for the verse to make any sense!  If Christ is the "cessation" to the Law then Christ himself is a liar since he specifically stated in Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17-20 that he did NOT come to abolish (KJV: "destroy") the Law!  A Bible commentary which explains the verses in Romans as "ending the Law" is a commentary which seriously misunderstands the continuity of the Law (Torah) as well as the mission and purposes of the Messiah, and ultimately the eternal Plans of God himself.

Once again let me state in no uncertain terms: "The entire flow of the Torah leads us to the goal of developing the kind of trusting faithfulness that produces obedience and surrender to Yeshua". 

Here now is a general list and explanation of why Jews don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah. The material contained here in this outline will contradict what I personally believe to be Truth. But for the sake of my argument, for the next section I must speak as a non-Christian, as a non-Messianic Jew. I am only sharing this with you here for reference sake. I do NOT espouse to the arguments here. I am proud to be a Messianic Jewish man, having faith in Messiah as both Son of God and Son of Man.

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Why Jews don't believe in Jesus

For 2,000 years, Jews have rejected Christianity. Why?

Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because (click on a topic to go directly to that thread):

Sub Index:

1) Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.

2) Christianity contradicts Jewish theology.

3) Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah.

4) Biblical verses "referring" to Jesus are mistranslations.

5) Jewish belief is based on national revelation.

6) Jews and Gentiles

7) Bringing the Messiah

It is important to understand why Jews don't believe in Jesus. The purpose is not to disparage other religions, but rather to clarify the Jewish position. The more data that's available, the better-informed choices people can make about their spiritual lives.

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1) JESUS DID NOT FULFILL THE MESSIANIC PROPHECIES

What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:

A. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).

B. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).

C. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)

D. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel - uniting the entire human race as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world -- on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).

The historical fact is that Jesus fulfilled none of these messianic prophecies.

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2) CHRISTIANITY CONTRADICTS JEWISH THEOLOGY

A. GOD AS THREE?

The Christian idea of Trinity breaks God into three separate beings: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).

Contrast this to the Shema, the basis of Jewish belief: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE" (Deut. 6:4). Jews declare the One-ness of God every day, writing it on doorposts (Mezuzah), and binding it to the hand and head (Tefillin). This statement of God's One-ness is the first words a Jewish child is taught to say, and the last words uttered before he dies.

In Jewish law, worship of a three-part god is considered idolatry -- one of the three cardinal sins which a Jew should rather give up his life than transgress. This explains why during the Inquisitions and throughout history, Jews gave up their lives rather than convert.

B. MAN AS GOD?

Christians believe that God came down to earth in human form, as Jesus said: "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).

Maimonides devotes most of the "Guide for the Perplexed" to the fundamental idea that God is Incorporeal, meaning that He assumes no physical form. God is Eternal, above time. He is Infinite, beyond space. He cannot be born, and cannot die. Saying that God assumes human form makes God small, diminishing both His Unity and His Divinity. As the Torah says: "God is not a mortal" (Numbers 23:19).

Judaism says that the Messiah will be born of human parents, with normal physical attributes just like other people. He will not be a demi-god, and will not possess supernatural qualities. In fact, an individual is alive in every generation with the capacity to step into the role of the Messiah. (see Maimonides - Laws of Kings 11:3)

C. INTERMEDIARY FOR PRAYER?

Basic to Christian belief is the idea that prayer must be directed through an intermediary -- i.e. confessing one's sins to a priest. Jesus himself is an intermediary, as Jesus said: "No man cometh unto the Father but by me."

In Judaism, prayer is a totally private matter, between each individual and God. As the Bible says: "God is near to all who call unto Him" (Psalms 145:18). Further, the Ten Commandments state: "You shall have no other gods BEFORE ME," meaning that it is forbidden to set up a mediator between God and man. (see Maimonides - Laws of Idolatry ch. 1)

D. INVOLVEMENT IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD

Christianity often treats the physical world as an evil to be avoided. Mary, the holiest Christian woman is portrayed as a virgin. Priests and nuns are celibate. And monasteries are in remote, secluded locations.

By contrast, Judaism believes that God created the physical world not to frustrate us, but for our pleasure. Jewish spirituality comes through grappling with the mundane world in a way that uplifts and elevates. Sex in the proper context is one of the holiest acts we can perform.

The Talmud says if a person has the opportunity to taste a new fruit and refuses to do so, he will have to account for that in the World-to-Come. Jewish rabbinical schools teach how to live amidst the bustle of commercial activity. Jews don't retreat from life, we elevate it.

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3) JESUS DID NOT EMBODY THE PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS OF MESSIAH

A. MESSIAH AS PROPHET

Jesus was not a prophet. Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the time of Ezra (circa 300 BCE) the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, thus prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets -- Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.

B. DESCENDENT OF DAVID

The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father -- and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David!

C. TORAH OBSERVANCE

The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvahs remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states its commandments are no longer applicable. (see John 1:45 and 9:16, Acts 3:22 and 7:37)

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4) MISTRANSLATED VERSES "REFERRING" TO JESUS

Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text -- which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.

A. VIRGIN BIRTH

The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from a verse in Isaiah describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as "virgin." This accords Jesus' birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.

B. CRUCIFIXION

The verse in Psalms 22:17 reads: "Like a lion, they are at my hands and feet." The Hebrew word ki-ari (like a lion) is grammatically similar to the word "gouged." Thus Christianity reads the verse as a reference to crucifixion: "They pierced my hands and feet."

C. SUFFERING SERVANT

Christians claim that Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus.

In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews ("Israel") are regarded as one unit. The Torah is filled with examples of the Jewish nation referred to with a singular pronoun.

Ironically, Isaiah's prophecies of persecution refer in part to the 11th century when Jews were tortured and killed by Crusaders who acted in the name of lord Jesus.

From where did these mistranslations stem? St. Gregory, 4th century Bishop of Nanianzus, wrote: "A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire."

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5) JEWISH BELIEF IS BASED SOLELY ON NATIONAL REVELATION

Of the 15,000 religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation -- i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He'll tell everyone, not just one person.

Judaism, unique among all of the world's major religions, does not rely on "claims of miracles" as a basis for establishing a religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of "miracles" to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).

Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):

The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone's belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.

"What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others... as it says, 'Face to face, God spoke with you...' The Torah also states: 'God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us -- who are all here alive today.'" (Deut. 5:3)

Judaism is not miracles. It's the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child.

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6) JEWS AND GENTILES

Judaism does not demand that everyone convert to the religion. The Torah of Moses is a truth for all humanity, whether Jewish or not. King Solomon asked God to heed the prayers of non-Jews who come to the Holy Temple (Kings I 8:41-43). The prophet Isaiah refers to the Temple as a "House for all nations." The Temple service during Sukkot featured 70 bull offerings, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world. (In fact, the Talmud says that if the Romans would have realized how much benefit they were getting from the Temple, they'd never have destroyed it.)

Jews have never actively sought converts to Judaism because the Torah prescribes a righteous path for gentiles to follow, known as the "Seven Laws of Noah." Maimonides explains that any human being who faithfully observes these basic moral laws earns a proper place in heaven.

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7) BRINGING THE MESSIAH

Indeed, the world is in desperate need of Messianic redemption. War and pollution threaten our planet; ego and confusion erode family life. To the extent we are aware of the problems of society, is the extent we will long for the redemption. As the Talmud says, one of the first questions a Jew is asked on Judgment Day is: "Did you yearn for the arrival of the Messiah?"

How can we hasten the coming of the Messiah? The best way is to love all humanity generously, to keep the mitzvahs of the Torah (as best we can), and to encourage others to keep them as well.

Despite the gloom, the world does seem headed toward redemption. One apparent sign is that the Jewish people have returned to the Land of Israel and made it bloom once again. Additionally, a major movement is afoot of young Jews returning to Torah tradition.

The Messiah can come at any moment and it all depends on our actions. God is ready when we are. For as King David says: "Redemption will come today -- if you hearken to His voice."

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Did Yeshua Have a Passover Meal?

The question begs to be answered: Did Yeshua and his disciples keep the Passover at the appointed time?  Wayne Jackson of ChristianCourier.com has put together a concise and well-reasoned answer for us to examine.  Later on I will also include valuable comments from my e-friend Eddie Chumney of "The Hebraic Roots of Christianity Global Network".

First, it appears clear that Yeshua and his disciples did eat the Passover supper. Two things make this apparent.

The LORD promised the disciples that he would “keep the Passover” (Mt. 26:18), which is the equivalent of “eat the Passover” (Mk. 14:14). He appointed the place for that event and gave instructions for the preparation (Mk. 14:12ff). The Synoptic texts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) then harmoniously flow toward the evening of that very day, and depict Yeshua as “eating” with the disciples (Mt. 26:21; Mk. 14:18).

Secondly, we affirm that the Torah of Moshe is binding for all time, and Yeshua was very careful to do all that the Torah commanded (Mt. 5:17-18; Jn. 8:29). Since the Passover was a part of the Torah’s requirement, Yeshua obviously partook of this feast. The testimony of the Synoptics is clear and decisive that Yeshua and his disciples observed the Passover.


The Problem

While John 18:25 seems to be problematic, there are possible solutions that relieve the narrative of conflict. The passage reads as follows:

“Then they led Yeshua from the house of Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was early. They themselves did not enter the praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover.”


On the surface, this seems to suggest that the Passover had not been celebrated as yet. What shall be said of this confusing situation?


Possible Solutions

Respectable scholars have proposed several solutions to this problem.

First, some have contended that the meal Yeshua ate with the disciples, commonly called the “last supper” was another sort of meal, but not the Passover. Burton Coffman, based upon his view of John 18:28, says there is “no way” this could have been the Passover (Commentary on John, Abilene: ACU Press, 1974, p. 425). Unfortunately, this view conflicts with the testimony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (see above). As one prominent scholar has observed, “hardly a single Bible expositor of note today” agrees with this opinion (Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951, p. 654).

Second, some have argued that Yeshua ate the Passover supper a day earlier than the Jews normally did. Sadler contends, for example, that Christ had the authority to do this because he was “greater than” the Law, the Sabbath, and the Temple (M.F. Sadler, The Gospel of Matthew, London: George Bell & Sons, 1908, 400).

Moreover, there was TaNaKH (Old Testament) authority for changing the Passover time under appropriate circumstances. The feast could be observed on the 14th day of the second month (instead of the first) by those who had been away on a trip, or those who had been ceremonially unclean, at the regular time (cf. Num. 9:9-12).

The problem with this view, however, is that it appears to conflict with other explicit New Testament information that indicates the LORD and his disciples ate the Passover on the first day of unleavened bread (Mt. 26:17; Mk. 14:12), the normal day for the supper.

Third, it is possible that the Jews at large had eaten the Passover meal already (i.e., on the assigned day), but that these Hebrew leaders (Jn. 18:12), due to their frenzied activity in attempting to deal with Yeshua, had postponed eating the supper. William Hendriksen seems inclined to this view, and he believes that H. Mulder has argued the case in convincing fashion (Hendriksen, Commentary on John, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1953, II, 403).

Fourth, a few scholars have contended that John’s record, versus that of the Synoptics, reflects the use of two slightly different calendars. Leon Morris sees this as the most likely solution to the enigma. He writes:

“The most natural reading of the Synoptics shows the meal there to be the Passover. The most natural reading of John shows Yeshua as crucified at the very time the Passover victims were slain in the temple. While it is undoubtedly possible so to interpret the evidence as to make both tell the same story it seems preferable to see them as following different calendars. According to the calendar Yeshua was following the meal was the Passover. But the temple authorities followed another, according to which the sacrificial victims were slain the next day” (The Gospel According to John, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971, p. 785).


This theory appears to have few supporters. (Yet see: Harold Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977, pp. 76-90.) For a contrary statement, see: Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982, p. 376, and Geldenhuys, pp. 654ff.)

Fifth, the Greek word for Passover is pascha. The term is used in three different senses in the Bible.  Sometimes the word stands for the Passover sacrifice, the lamb itself (Mk. 14:12; Lk. 22:7; 1 Cor. 5:7).  On other occasions pascha can denote the meal that was eaten on the 14th of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar (Mt. 26:18-19; Lk. 22:8, 13; Heb. 11:28).

But it is also the case that the term pascha can refer to the entire eight-day period which included the feast of unleavened bread – thus from the 14th of Nisan to the 21st). Note this passage:

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten” (Ezek: 45:21; cf. Lk. 22:1, 7; Acts 12:3-4).


F.W. Danker notes: “Popular usage merged the two festivals and treated them as a unity, as they were for all practical purposes” (Greek-English Lexicon, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000, p. 784).

According to well-known author Eddie Chumney (The Seven Festivals of the Messiah, see his website: http://www.hebroots.com/heb_root.html#Heritage) Yeshua ate the Passover (Luke 22:15). This Scripture passage refers specifically to the Lamb. Frequently, there were two sacrifices during the Feast of Passover. One lamb is the Passover lamb and the other lamb is called the Chagigah or peace offering.  These sacrifices are referred to in Deuteronomy (D’varim) 16:2 where God required that the sacrifice be from both the flock and the herd. This was interpreted to mean that two sacrifices were needed. The Chagigah (the additional lamb) was offered in addition to the Pesach (the Passover lamb). The Pesach was required, but the Chagigah was not because it was a freewill offering.

During the days of Yeshua, in order to have a Seder, you needed to register at a rabbinical court in the temple (Beit HaMikdash), and you must have at least 10 and no more than 20 people. Each group of pilgrims who came to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim had one representative carrying a lamb without spot or blemish (Exodus [Sh’mot] 12:4-5). An assembly of at least 10 people (known in Hebrew as a minyan) was required to participate in the ceremony.

Each group of people entered the temple (Beit HaMikdash) with their lamb. They were instructed, "You must slay the lamb, not the priests." The priests caught the blood and ministered the blood according to the Scriptures. The only place where a Passover (Pesach) lamb could be killed was in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim). Therefore, those who couldn't come to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) to keep the Passover (Pesach), but still wanted to keep the meal, would have to have a substitute for the Passover (Pesach) lamb. That substitute was the shank bone of a lamb. It has a special name in Hebrew: zeroah, or arm. Yeshua was referred to as the zeroah or arm of the LORD in Isaiah (Yesha’yahu) 53:1. The shank bone or zeroah will be a remembrance of the lamb that was slain.

The Passover (Pesach) requirement is that you must eat until you are full. The entire lamb must be consumed before midnight on the fifteenth of Nisan. If you had only 10 people, you would not want to have two lambs because they could not be totally eaten in time. This would violate the commandment (mitzvah) that the lamb was to be eaten before midnight (Exodus [Sh’mot] 12:8). If you had 20 people, one lamb would not be enough to make everyone full, and this would also violate the commandment (mitzvah) given by God. Therefore, if you had 20 people, you would need two lambs.

Once again, Yeshua ate the Passover (Luke 22:15). You can have a Seder without a Pesach (or Passover lamb), but you cannot have a lamb without a Seder. Also, since Yeshua was the Passover Lamb of God (John [Yochanan] 1:29), He had to come to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) from Bethany not only to be the Passover (Pesach) lamb, but also for the Seder (Mark 14:3,12-16). So, Yeshua was having a Passover lamb (Luke 22:15), and it was a Seder. Today, there is no temple (Beit HaMikdash), so the Passover Seder is held on the fifteenth or sixteenth of Nisan. The Seder on the fifteenth is called the First Seder, and the Seder on the sixteenth is called the Second Seder.

In Mark 14:12, it is written, "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover [the Pesach lamb]...." The word translated as 'first' is the Greek word protos, which means "before, earlier, and preceding." Because there was a temple (Beit HaMikdash) in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) in the days of Yeshua, the First Seder would be on the fourteenth of Nisan, and the Second Seder on the fifteenth. The Seder could be held on either night. Yeshua had His Passover (Pesach) Seder by midnight on the fourteenth of Nisan (remember that the fourteenth of Nisan begins at sundown, which is roughly six hours prior to midnight), and was crucified the next afternoon at 3:00 p.m., which is still the fourteenth of Nisan.

The high priest (Cohen HaGadol) kills the Passover (Pesach) lamb for the nation of Israel at 3:00 p.m. on the fourteenth of Nisan. At sundown, the fifteenth begins, so Yeshua would have to eat His Passover lamb by midnight of the fourteenth of Nisan, which is prior to the time that the high priest kills the Passover lamb for the nation. To further prove this, in John (Yochanan) 18:28, when Yeshua was brought before Pilate, Caiaphas the high priest (Cohen HaGadol) wouldn't enter the judgment hall of the Gentile ruler because he would be defiled and couldn't eat the Passover lamb. So, this event must have taken place on the morning of the fourteenth of Nisan because the high priest had not yet eaten the Passover. If he were defiled, he would be defiled for one day. Since Yeshua had already eaten the Passover by the time He was seized and taken before Caiaphas and Pilate, He had to have eaten the Passover with the disciples on the evening of the fourteenth. Thus, we can see how Yeshua ate a Passover meal and could still fulfill being the Passover Lamb of HaShem by being killed at 3:00 p.m. on the fourteenth of Nisan.


Pushback: Could the Passover in John’s Gospel be Something Other Than the Chagigah?

There were several “feasts” during this period (see 2 Chron. 30:22); the one mentioned in John 18:28 may have been on the day following the main Passover supper. It was called the Chagigah (sacrificial meal). Many respectable scholars, e.g., Lenski and Edersheim, defend this view. Edward Robinson has a clear and detailed explanation of this position that is worthy of serious consideration, and, in this writer’s judgment, this argument carries the greatest weight of evidence (Harmony of the Gospels, London: Religious Tract Society, 1879, pp. 135ff; see also Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, n.d., pp. 296-98; Geldenhuys, pp. 656ff).

As mentioned above, some scholars hold that the Passover coincided with the Last Supper and interpret John’s gospel in such a way as to be consistent with this. Such an interpretation makes two claims: The first claim is that the Passover in John 18:28 refers not to the Passover but to the chagigah (festival sacrifice) which was eaten joyfully on the afternoon the day after the Passover sacrifice.

I do not believe that John’s Gospel reports a different date for the crucifixion from the Synoptics; rather, the meal of John 13:1 was the Seder, and it took place on Thursday night; but “the Pesach” in this verse refers to other food eaten during Pesach, specifically the chagigah (festival sacrifice) which was consumed with great joy and celebration on the afternoon following the Seder. This is the Pesach meal which the Judeans gathered outside the Pilate’s palace would have been unable to eat had they entered, because their defilement would have lasted till sundown. If “the Pesach” meant the Passover lamb, defilement in the morning might not have been a problem, since the Seder meal took place after sundown (David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992, pp. 206-207).

More plausibly, “to eat the Passover” in John 18:28 may refer, not to the Passover meal itself, but to the continuing feast, and in particular to the chagigah, the feast-offering offered on the morning of the first full paschal day (cf. Num. 28:18-19). This could explain the Jews’ concern: ritual purification could be regained by nightfall, but not by the morning Chagigah (D. A. Carson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. F.Gaebelein, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984, Vol. 8, p. 531).

The second claim is that the preparation of the Passover in John 19:14 refers to the preparation day of the first day of unleavened bread in the Passover season, John 19:31, which is of course an annual Sabbath or Holy Day.

This particular Preparation Day was also the first day of Pesach (David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992, p. 209).

This interpretation of John’s gospel is proposed by those who believe that there was no disagreement amongst the Jews over when the Passover should be kept and that the Last Supper coincided with this. (This tends to be those who believe in a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection.) Of course, this would place the Last Supper at the end of the fourteenth. But it has already been established that the Last Supper occurred at the beginning of the fourteenth so this issue does not affect any of the chronologies.

In conclusion we must say that we may not be able to determine the precise situation alluded to in John 18:28. Nonetheless, there are sufficient possibilities to establish the fact that no insuperable difficulty exists to challenge our confidence in the sacred text.


Between the Evenings

The Hebrew phrase beyn ha'arbayim is translated as "in the evening" above. However, the literal translation of this expression is "between the evenings," as Jay Green's English rendering of the Old Testament, entitled A Literal Translation of the Bible (LTB), shows:

EXODUS 12:6 And it shall be for you to keep until the fourteenth day of this month. And all the assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings [beyn ha'arbayim]. (LTB)
 
Most modern versions of the Bible render beyn ha'arbayim either as "at twilight" or "at dusk." This phrase occurs 11 times in the Old Testament (Exo. 12:6; 16:12; 29:39; 29:41; 30:8; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:3, 5, 11; 28:4, 8). The first occurrence, Exodus 12:6, is in reference to the time God commanded the Passover lambs to be slain. Those who believe that the Passover lambs were killed on 14 Abib between sunset and total darkness reckon the first evening as sunset and the second evening as nightfall.

But is this interpretation correct? Does beyn ha'arbayim refer to this brief period of time? Is there any way to clearly define "between the evenings" from the Bible?

In reality, the debate over the timing of the original Passover sacrifice and meal boils down to one very basic question: What is meant by the Hebrew phrase beyn ha'arbayim? What time period does "between the evenings" cover?

Anciently, the Samaritans believed that "between the evenings" was the time from sunset to dark. Because of this belief, they sacrificed the Passover just after sunset, as 14 Abib was starting. They then ate the Passover meal later on the night of the 14th. Allegedly, the Sadducees held the same views on Passover as did the Samaritans.

On the other hand, the Jews have always reckoned "between the evenings" as the afternoon, literally the time between the decline of the sun after noon (the first evening) until the setting of the sun to end the day (the second evening). Therefore, until the destruction of the Second Temple, the vast majority of observant Jews killed the Passover on the afternoon of the 14 Abib, and ate the Passover meal later in the night, at the start of 15 Abib.

There is really no need to debate this issue, for the Bible clearly tells us when "between the evenings" is. In Exodus 29:38-41, God gives Israel instructions regarding the daily sacrifice:

EXODUS 29:38 And this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs daily, sons of a year; 39 the one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the second [hasheni] lamb you shall offer between the evenings [beyn ha'arbayim]. 40 And a tenth of fine flour anointed with beaten oil, a fourth of a hin, and a drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine, for the one lamb. 41 And you shall offer the second [hasheni] lamb between the evenings [beyn ha'arbayim]; you shall do it like the morning food offering and its drink offering, for a soothing fragrance, a fire offering to Jehovah. (LTB)


Although many English translations render hasheni as "the other" in verses 39 and 41, any good Hebrew concordance will show you that it literally means "the" (ha) "second" (sheni). Most Jews accept that God still reckons days from sunset to sunset (cf. Lev. 23:27, 32). The divine instructions shown above make it clear that the priests were to offer two lambs every day. God told Moses that the first lamb was to be sacrificed in the morning, and the second lamb was to be sacrificed "between the evenings." To be the second offering of the day, the lamb sacrificed "between the evenings" had to be slain before sunset!

If "between the evenings" occurs anytime after sunset, then this command could not have been properly carried out by the Israelites. At sunset, the old day has ended and the new day has begun. So under the Samaritan definition of "between the evenings," the evening sacrifice would be first and the morning sacrifice second!

The Jews, however, correctly understood what God meant by beyn ha'arbayim. According to noted Jewish historian Alfred Edersheim, "Ordinarily it [the evening sacrifice] was slain at 2.30 P.M., and offered at about 3.30" (p. 174, updated ed., The Temple: Its Ministry and Services).

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Various other Passover questions, to include inquiries about Passover wine

A long time e-friend of mine has submitted various Passover related questions that I have chosen to use for this final section of my Passover commentary. Perhaps you the reader have had similar questions rolling around your head. I have left the original questions and answers untouched (there are spelling errors and typos). Enjoy this inside peek into the life of my daily routine.

His questions (Q:) appear as regular font, alignment LEFT justified, with my answers (A:) appearing in alignment CENTER italics immediately following each question.

Q: Dear Honorable Rabbi:

I hope I am not bothering you with my questions. I know you are rather busy.

A: "I am never so busy that I cannot answer e-mails."

Q: If you may, please consider the following ideas concerning Pesach. Of all the folks I read after, I respect your opinions the most concerning TaNakH observance.

A: "Thank you for your kind opinion."

Q: There is a great debate concerning wine vs grape juice going on amongst TaNakH observant Christians. The logic goes like this: since Grape Juice has yeast (leaven) in it, and supposedly wine doesn't (actually, it does--I've done the research) grape juice should not be used for Pesach. This has caused me more questions than answers. Is there any clear SCRIPTURAL commandment?

A: My thoughts...

"Firstly, the wine that is served at Passover meals has undergone the strictest of supervision by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (UOJCA), before they will place a "Kosher for Passover" stamp on it. I can rest assured that according to their consciences and subsequently mine, that it is indeed consumable for Passover purposes. I have no reason to question their stamp of authenticity. If I do, then every other product with the stamp "K", "U", or "P" on it is likewise questionable for Jews worldwide, both Messianic and non."

Q: 1) What (Biblically) is leaven? Some say yeast. Does that include baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and baking powder (a mix of carbonate, acid and starch)? What did people actually use as leaven in ancient days? How did they cultivate, gather, store it? (Should one remove Alka-Seltzer from one's house during the Feast of Unleavened Bread...)

A: "The Encyclopedia Judaica explains that biblical yeast was not altogether different than the yeast of today. After all, yeast is a natural product, not something that modern science has created. Yeast consists of any of a group of minute, one-celled ascomycetous fungi, which produce alcoholic fermentation in saccharine fluids. As such, they grow very quickly in a liquid containing sugar. This speaks of HaShem's design not the scientology of synthetics. An informative article on leavening agents can be viewed at this link: Kitchen Science - Leavening Agents. In my opinion, one should indeed remove Alka-Seltzer in order to properly fulfill the mitzvah."

Q: 2) Since the commandment concerning leaven (seems to me) focuses exclusively on bread and on (however ancients did this) stockpiles of "leaven" itself, isn't the wine vs grape juice debate Scripturally meaningless? Isn't applying the commandment to other than stockpiles of leaven and leavened dough (bakery products) applying the commandment where there is no commandment?

A: "Yes, the mitzvah primarily has to do with the baked goods. But the mitzvah does say to remove all leaven from your houses (Ex. 12:19-20). I believe that a sincere approach includes removing anything which will defile the conscience."

Q: 3) Scripture commands (this is ignored by those in the debate) no UNCIRCUMCISED person may partake of the Pesach. This raises a whole slew of other questions.

A: "Yes, it does. Uncircumcised meant (back then) literally and ceremonially. Today, as Christians, this could be applied to the true circumcision which was not made with hands. In essence when churches exclude non-believers from partaking in the LORD's Supper (a type of Seder) they are borrowing theology from your recognized statement (see Ex. 12:43-49). The idea is that anyone who partakes of the Deliverance celebration of HaShem must internalize the truth of what he is indeed doing! To partake lightly is to invite harm and possibly even death (reference the context of 1 Cor. chapter 5, and specifically 11:17-34)."

Q: 4) Since we are COMMANDED (Christians) to keep "the Lord's Supper" (this raises even more questions concerning the "Love Feasts" held apparently on a daily basis which are also referred to as "the Lord's Supper" vs the yearly Pesach), and no uncircumcised person must partake, doesn't this seem to be an injunction (heavily implied, anyway) that all born again believers, (Gentiles, too) are to officially (outwardly) enter into and declare their allegiance with the Commonwealth of Israel? Didn't Shaul eventually circumcise Titus?

A: "Yes, your insights are correct. We (the Church) are fully part of the Commonwealth of Isra'el whether we want to admit it or not, and despite our actions to demonstrate otherwise! When Messiah returns there will be an ample amount of reeducation on the part of many a believer, both Jewish and non-Jewish."

Q: 5) Didn't Ywhw command the priests NOT to drink alcoholic beverages before entering into Temple Service? Isn't that (in part--also the illegal incense) why Aaron's sons died? Wouldn't that make alcohol for Passover strictly forbidden? And if it is so for the Priests--born again believers ALL being Priests after the order of Melchizadec, what does that imply? It seems Ywhw takes a DIM view of alcohol, considering it a DEFILING agent, if you ask me...

A: "A specific injunction or prohibition should not be liberally applied to every other situation which bears resemblance to the original one. In other words, if HaShem told the priests not to drink alcohol before entering into Temple Service, does that make it applicable to today's Seder service? I should like to think that this is Scriptural interpolation rather that extrapolation. We don't have license to read into the past, what we know or suppose today (Example: Genesis 18:1-8 *the rabbis try to make a case for Avraham not having served his three guests milk and meat together, by supposing that there was the standard rabbinical waiting period of three hours between the two courses. Of course their speculation is absurd since the Torah makes no mention of any such gap!). The Torah has nothing inherently bad to say about alcohol, only drunkenness. Once again, alcohol is mostly a matter of the individual conscience. Do I drink it? Only on special occasions (such as Passover, Communion, special social gatherings, etc). I do not prefer the taste of malt beverages. If my brother sees Rabbi Ariel with wine in his glass, and this sight causes him to stumble, then I must be careful of the social image that I am sending."

Q: I can't find it in scripture, but I seem to remember in the OT God commanding ALL the Jews to be priests and to proselytize the ENTIRE world to Judaism--no exceptions.

A: "That's a new one to me :-)"

Q: In the days of the Golden Calf, God excluded non-descendents of Aaron, and later non-descendents of Zodak (because they remained faithful to God during rebellions.) I remember somewhere God promising to assign each Gentile who converts to Judaism to one of the twelve tribes.

A: "In Ezekiel 47, a prophecy goes forth which tells of the future regathering of the entire 12 Tribes. When the chapter begins to draw to a close, it mentions that their allotments (of land) are to be shared with the "strangers who dwell among you". The Hebrew word translated as "stranger" is the same one used in our Exodus passage to describe someone who dwells as a citizen of the Community of Isra'el: "geyr". Conclusion: all who name the name of Yeshua as Messiah are citizens of God's Community of believers--his Community called "Isra'el". Anyone of this community who wishes to be cut off or excluded from being called as such, is deceiving himself. We either dwell together as one unified people, or we are left out in the spiritual cold. We cannot have it both ways."

Q: Anyway, I am persuaded all converts are to assimilate into Israel. Shaul says that the blessings OF ABRAHAM--which includes God making a person Jewish, a gift from God, may COME UPON THE GENTILES--Galatians--and that God has made them both--Jew and Gentile--ONE new man, NOT two different types of men, but ONE only: Ephesians, Colossians. Since God never made a Jew into a Gentile; the opposite transformation is our only possibility.

A: "Etymologically, this is very true: Gentiles become "Jews" (in the biblical sense of belonging to the larger group of "Yah-praisers", i.e., "Yah-hodeyah-ites", commonly called "Jews!"). Jews don't become Gentiles, except in the unfortunate case that they lose their cultural, and spiritual inheritance which is associated with Judaism, i.e., they assimilate into Gentile culture and beliefs. When this happens, even HaShem decrees that they are indeed "scattered unto the heathens". But even this doesn't make him into a full Gentile. Being Jewish entails a great responsibility that is intimately tied into witness. This is the plan and purpose of HaShem: witness and revelation. A Jew is supposed to be a "God-revealer". "To whom?", you may ask. To the rest of the world. Christians have this responsibility as well, and in that sense, they are JEWS." Have you read my article on "Who is a Jew?"

Q: The fact that Joel insists Yeshua will command drought upon all Gentiles who refuse to observe at least the Feast of the Tabernacles and the command to send representatives to Jerusalem cinches me that the Law has NOT passed away. I am also persuaded that the Abrahamic covenant is still in effect. Indeed, it is the ONLY covenant in existence AT ALL EVER, bought by the Blood of the Lamb. After all, Abraham's blessing revolved around the promise Yeshua--the Savior--would come (future tense) and make Abraham worthy of all the blessings via His Perfect Sacrifice. Abraham believed on the Cross of Calvary. He was the first "Christian." Didn't Jesus say, "Abraham saw My Day and was glad..."?

A: "In fact to strengthen your argument, when the Torah says that Avraham "saw" Yeshua's day, the Hebrew of the text is actually teaching that he saw the "sacrifice being offered on Mount Moriah"! We translate the Hebrew phrase "ADONAI yireh" as "God will provide". But a literal rendering is "God is seen", or "God has been seen here"! Given our knowledge of the relationship between Mout Moriah and Mount Calvary, the context of Genesis 22:7-18 and coupled with Yeshua's own testimony of John 8:39-59, we can begin to understand just what Avraham saw on the mountain that day!"

Q: Which makes Abraham (a Babylonian; Babylon being a symbol of the World, Satan's culture in general--an Iraqi--from the city of Ur-which exists to this day in Modern Iraq) the first OFFICIALLY recognized Gentile to convert to Judaism, (come out of and leave the World's Satanic culture and re-adopt God's culture, see Revelations) which (Biblically) seems to be IDENTICAL with Christianity, trusting in the Savior. In the OT they trusted He would come, in the NT we trust He DID (past tense) already come. Judaism and Christianity trust in the same Event, the same Lord, the same Sacrifice to make us partakers of the same Covenant, bought by the same Blood of the same Lamb. They are one and the same. So shouldn't we be coming out and being separate from the same Babylon and pilgramiging to the same Heavenly City Abraham looked for?

A: "Ameyn! Very nicely stated!"

Q: I am convinced a whole lot of foolish divisiveness in the Body of Christ would end tomorrow if God's Children would see this clearly expressed Biblical truth. I just can't get into my head how folks get TWO religions and TWO peoples out of this...

A: "You and me both, my scholarly friend."

Q: Actually, I am of the opinion that God is Jewish, Adam was a Jew who sold his sonship (like Esau), became a child of the Devil; and all Adam's (Satan's) Children that repent and re-receive Yeshua's gift of re-established sonship with God simply end up back where God had started us from. Remember the prodigal sons? They had ONE father. The wayward's sonship was restored with the SACRIFICE OF THE FATTED CALF. The homeward son was then entreated to enter into the celebration and partake of the calf (Pesach?) also.

A: "Nice drash (homiletic exposition of Scripture) on the history of humankind."

Q: Redemption means to restore, to begin (the right way) a second time. Isn't Yeshua (a Jewish man--Who chose assignment to Juda, no less) "the LAST Adam..."? Babylon (World kingdom) is Satan's culture, and the Levitical Law is God's culture (the culture we lost when Adam rebelled) and AdamFinal (Yeshua) restored us to, officially beginning with Abraham.

Shaul says one is not a true Jew who is one outwardly, but inwardly, via sanctification of the Holy Ghost through Yeshua's Blood.

A: "The literal Greek of this verse in Romans 2:29-29 suggests that a true "Jew" is not one who is [merely] outward, but that a true "Jew" is [also] one who is inward. The use of brackets in this case demonstrate that outward and inward work hand in hand to properly define "who is a Jew". So cases can be made on both sides of the fence, as to Christians being "spiritual Jews", while at the same time "cultural Jews" can actually forfeit their "Jewishness" based on a lack of true inward belief in the quintessential Jew named Yeshua!"

Q: Accepting Jesus Christ is what makes a person Jewish, Christian, a Child of the Living God. (We ain't got two different fathers). This is no way neglects the specific prophecies concerning the flesh (physical descendents) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

A: "Good observation."

Q: That's my rant for today. PS I read the word "wine" in the Textus Receptus (New Testament) Yeshua drank was "sapa." "Sapa" is non-alcoholic. Do you know if this is true?

A: Firstly, it must be noted that in every single instance of the word 'wine' in the synoptic gospels, the same Greek word is used:

(Strong's): 3631 - oy'-nos = a prime (or perhaps of Hebrew origin) [3196]; "wine" (literally or figuratively); wine

Exclusively in the book of Acts (and only once at 2:13), this Greek word is used:

(Strong's): 1098 - glyoo'-kos = akin to [sweet], sweet wine, i.e., (properly) must (fresh, juice), but used of the more saccherine (and therefore highly inebriating) fermented wine; new wine

Romans has one use of 3631 above, at 14:21.

Ephesians has one use of 3631, at 5:18.

1 Timothy has this Greek word at 3:3:

(Strong's): 3943 - par'-oy-nos = from 3844 and 3031; staying near wine, i.e., tippling (a topper); given to wine

1 Timothy has one two uses of 3631 at 3:8, and 5:23.

Titus 1:7 has one use of 3943.

Titus 2:3 has one use of 3631.

1 Peter 4:3 has this cognate of 3631:

(Strong's): 3632 - oy-nof-loog-ee'ah = from 3031 and a form of the base of 5397; an overflow (or surplus) of wine, i.e. vinolency (drunkenness); excess of wine

All instances of wine in the book of Revelation are 3631.

In connection with 1 Timothy 5:23, water of that period was often impure, a disease-carrier; wine (3631) was less likely to be so. Wine itself was usually served diluted with three to six parts water. Medicinal and ceremonial use of wine has Scriptural support (look up the above references from the above); getting drunk has Scriptural opposition. Normal use of wine at meals has Scriptural support, also use of strong drink for special festivals, and for easing final pain at death or in times of great grief (e.g. Proverbs 31:6,7). Obviously, these general principles would not apply to someone who has a problem with alcohol.

(End of questions and answers)

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"Chag Sah-meach Pesach!"
(Happy Festival of Passover!)
For further study, read: Ex. 12:21-51, Num. 28:16-25, Josh. 3:5-7, 5:2-6:1. 6:27; Is. 52:13-53:12; Mt. 26-28; Mk. 14-16; Luke 22-24; John 13-21; 1 Cor. 5:6-8

Rabbi Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy 

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