Parashat Ki tisa (for you shall lift…) Ex.30:11-34:35
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:16-38
Maftir: Numbers 19:1-22
Shabbat Parah (The Red Heifer)
This is a special Shabbat with the teaching concerning the Red Heifer. With Purim now over it is time to begin to think about Passover and the preparations for this festival. The Torah passage begins with the taking of a census and the giving of the half shekel to support the work of the Temple (or Tabernacle).
In this week’s study we will focus on the copper basin which is discussed in Exodus 30:17-21. Four times the word for “washing” appears in this section. HaShem instructs the priests twice that they must wash their hands and their feet before coming and serving at the Altar. Failure to do this will bring death upon them. Special attention to this passage reveals that although all the services in the Temple required washing, the incense offering that goes up towards the heavens is mentioned separately. Why is this? Because the incense offering is associated with the prayers of the saints (see Rev. 5:8).
This fact teaches one that all the work in the Temple had one primary purpose, to draw close to HaShem. The washing was not a bathing to remove the dirt from the body, but a ceremonial washing that emphasized sanctification. In other words, a desire to be holy and reflect the character of Living
G-d. It is not by accident that the next element that is mentioned is the anointing oil. When one has a desire to draw near to G-d for the purpose of reflecting His character and bring glory to His name, then what one is actually doing is positioning himself or herself for the ministering of the Holy Spirit and His anointing.
It was only after the vessels in the Temple were anointed with this oil that they were ready to be used for service. The same is true for the believer. Service to G-d is a process. It involves the believer being prepared by G-d Himself as a precondition to being used by Him. The washing represented a desire to be cleansed from those things that posed a barrier between man and G-d. When the priest would approach the basin they would pause and confess their sins before HaShem. The reason why only the hands and feet were washed was because the hands represent deeds and actions while the feet represented location and stability. When one is out of the proper location (out of G-d’s will) he or she will lack spiritual stability. This will be reflected in one’s behavior (deeds and actions).
Why not set aside a time each day to consider where you are in regard to HaShem’s will? Ask yourself if your life lacks the spiritual stability that it should have. Examine your deeds and actions to see if they are in line with the commandments of Messiah. It is only when these things are proper that one can expect the anointing of the Holy Spirit to come upon you and empower you so that you can faithfully execute the will of G-d for your life.
Spiritual maturity doesn’t just happen. It is the outcome of a process of preparation that each believer must go through. It requires intimacy with G-d. It is not an accident that our Torah portion states that when the priest did not prepare properly that he would die. A lack of intimacy with G-d does indeed bring about a spiritual death. As Moses told the Children of Israel- “Choose Life!”
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This is such a vital parsha and priceless food for the soul. Now I realise even more the importance of the washing of hands and feet, which is anything but a metaphor, and why Yeshua was so insistent on this ritual. This also leads to the arena of forbidden speech. I don’t think I will ever think of my hands and feet in the same way again, whether they are taken for granted, or how active they were while I was in a discussion or simply thinking…