Parashat Va’eira (and I appeared) Exodus 6:2-9:35 ; Haftarah: Rosh Chodesh Shevat Isaiah 66:1-24


Parashat Va’eira (and I appeared) Exodus 6:2-9:35

Haftarah: Rosh Chodesh Shevat Isaiah 66:1-24

There is a special reading from the Prophets this Shabbat because this Shabbat marks a new month, the month of Shevat. The reading is the last chapter of Isaiah and its subject is proper worship. According to the Scriptures one of the most important parts of worship is sacrifice. Verse three reveals that the emphasis of the offering is not just what is offered to HaShem, but even more important than that which is offered is the one who offers the sacrifice. It is not a question of who is making the offering; that is, a king or someone who is important, but rather the thoughts and actions of the one making the offering. Even though one offers the right thing, if the heart of the person is not correct before the L-rd, it will be rejected as though someone offered a forbidden thing to HaShem.

It is also true that if one lives / behaves in any way that he wants and then goes to make an offering before G-d, once again even if what he is giving is proper it will be rejected. In other words it is impossible to separate the offering from the one making the offering. Isaiah gives the example that one could offer up a meal offering, but if the heart of the person is not right, HaShem will see it as the blood of a pig. These are very strong words indeed.

This reading from the Prophets should cause one to reflect long and hard about himself before praying to the L-rd and asking for something. As Yeshua taught, perhaps one needs to set his offering aside and seek forgiveness from someone first? Perhaps one needs to repent to HaShem before offering Him a word of praise? This haftarah simply reminds us that all too often we are too casual about worship and our prayer life.

How does one know if his heart is not right before the L-rd or that his deeds are improper? It is not an accident that HaShem says those that He will bless are those who are zealous for His Word. For one reads in verse two,

“…and to this one I will look, to the humble and broken in spirit and who is zealous for my word.” Isaiah 66:2

The word which is translated “zealous” is often times translated “pious”. This Hebrew word literally means to tremble with fear. This word does not refer to a fear that paralyzes a person, but causes him to do that which he is being commanded. Hence one that fears or is zealous for the word of G-d will be most careful to adhere to the word of G-d in absolute obedience. In verse five the reader is told that the one who practices this will be hated and people will want to distance themselves from such an individual; but when G-d is glorified, then it will be the one who was zealous for His word that will rejoice and be glad and the scoffer of His word that will be shamed.

Here is some great advice— make your worship grounded in the word of G-d and not in culture, ethnicity, or what is popular today. Do not base worship on what will be the response of individuals, but on the response of G-d. If you do this, I promise your worship will be most different from the “worship” that is going on throughout the world today.

Shabbat Shalom

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