Parashah Chol HaMoed Pesach
April 15, 2017 Nisan 19, 5777
By Bob Barrett
This Week’s Readings:
Torah: Exodus 33:12-34:26 Numbers 28:19-25
Haftorah: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Brit Chadasha: John 11:38-57
I had an uncle who was an elementary school teacher. Every year, at Christmas and Easter he would have a party for his students in which he would treat his class to candy canes and chocolate Santas or jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. He would always bring a large box full of these treats to my brother and me. Looking into the box full of jelly beans, I would see all of the colors—red, pink, yellow, white, black—but I was most interested in the green ones, which were my favorite. I would hunt through the others and pick out the green ones. The big picture was all of the jelly beans, but the hidden gems were the green ones.
This weeks Parashah reminded me of that. The big picture in each portion is a well known segment, but each has a hidden gem. Now you would think this being the Shabbat during Passover I would speak on Passover, which is mentioned in the Torah portion and the Brit Chadasha and is alluded to in the Haftorah. But instead, I’m going to point out the hidden gems.
The Torah Portion tells of Moses confronting G-d, wanting to see His glory and being placed in the cleft of a rock while the L-RD passes by. But here is a verse which I think is priceless. Verse 16 says, “For how would it be known that I or your people have found favor in Your sight? Isn’t it because You go with us, that distinguishes us from all the people on the face of the earth?” Think of this. It’s not because we are the best looking, or the richest or the foods we eat. We are set apart because ADONAI goes with us. Do we live our lives in such a way that when others interact with us they can see that G-d is with us?
The Haftarah Portion tells of the dry bones coming together; a well known portion; there is even a song about it. But versus 12-14 give a formula for the end-times resurrection. G-d will open our graves, bring us out of our graves, bring us back to our land, we will know ADONAI, He will put His spirit in us, and we will live. These are definitely important verses on which we should meditate.
The Brit Chadasha Portion tells of Lazarus coming out of his tomb followed by the Kohanim and Pharisees’ plan to kill Yeshua and mentions the Passover is approaching. Within this portion we learn the fear was that if they let Yeshua “go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our holy place and our nation.” Caiaphas adds, “it is better that one man die for the people rather than the whole nation to be destroyed…but also so that He might gather together into one the scattered children of G-d.” The crucifixion was not because the rulers were jealous of Yeshua or for blasphemy or that they thought He was a false messiah, but for their fear of Roman punishment if He became too powerful among the people. And is Caiaphas’ prophesy that Yeshua would die for the nation “so that G-d might gather together into one the scattered children of G-d” an illusion to the resurrection of the dead? Remember, this follows the story of Lazarus rising from death.
As we study scripture—as we live out scripture—we should not be overwhelmed by the big picture but we should look for little gems hiding within the main text. They can bring us closer to knowing G-d.