Shabbat Chol HaMoed
This Shabbat we read a special Torah portion. Twice a year, during the seven day period of Unleavened Bread and during the seven day period of Succot—Festival of Tabernacles—we switch from the regular Shabbat Torah portion and read from the book of Exodus (Ex. 33:12-34:26). In this passage Moses asked HaShem to send whom G-d promised the children of Israel so they can enter the land. To whom is Moses referring? The answer is the Messiah. It is important to note that within this context Moses also asks G-d to show him His Glory. What is one to learn from these two requests of Moses? That it is the tasks of the Messiah is to reveal the Glory of G-d to the world (see Isaiah 6:3).
Many scholars see the children of Israel entering into the Promised Land as a typological event that pictures the people of G-d entering into the Kingdom. Therefore Moses asks for G-d to send the Messiah because he knows that it is Messiah’s job to establish the Kingdom of G-d upon the earth. It is in the midst of this Kingdom that the Glory of G-d will be experienced by all of its inhabitants.
In regard to the portion that is read from the prophets during Shabbat Chol HaMoed Ezekiel is chosen. During the Festival of Unleavened Bread we read Ezekiel 37:1-14 (Valley of Dry Bones) and during Succot we read Ezekiel 38:18-39:16 (War of Gog and Magog). It is obvious that the Messiah is connected to both of these prophesies from Ezekiel; for it is the Messiah that will bring the restoration of Israel (Valley of Dry Bones) and defeat the enemies of Israel during the battle of Armageddon (War of Gog and Magog) prior to establishing His Kingdom.
Why do we read about these important events during these two seven day festivals? Because the number seven is used in Hebrew numerology in order to convey “holiness” to the reader. Holiness is revealed only through the work of Messiah. Moses knew that Israel could not arrive to her final destination without Messiah’s coming; therefore he asked G-d to send the Messiah so that Moses could complete the work of redemption. Ultimately redemption involves resurrection experience (Valley of Dry Bones). This resurrection experience is what gives us a new life. The question that must be asked is “how will this new life be expressed?” The answer is seen in the next section from Ezekiel- War of Gog and Magog. In this war evil is defeated. This victory is what new life should reflect. A person should live a life where evil, i.e. sin, is defeated and holiness, the Glory of G-d, is manifested in their behavior.
As you observe this special Shabbat, ask yourself if the teachings of these passages are truly seen in your life? Shabbat Shalom.
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