Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, April 11, 2020 

Shabbat Shalom and Chol-HaMo’ed Same’ach (Happy Half-Holiday),

Raymond Finney has written a 3 part series on the resurrection of Yeshua.  It is excellent and I’m going to put them both out in advance of Resurrection Sunday.  That’s because on Resurrection Sunday we begin counting the omer.  I’m explain more about that in the next RR.  Blessings for a happy Passover and Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Michael.

Within the land of Israel, Jewish people follow the biblical mandate to keep one holy day at the beginning of Pesach and one holy day at the end.  The middle days are called “Chol HaMo’ed” or half-holidays.  Leviticus 23:7 On the first day you are to have a holy convocation and you shall do no regular work…. 8b On the seventh day is a holy convocation, when you are to do no regular work.”

However; outside the land of Israel, the rabbis developed a custom of celebrating two days at the beginning and two days at the end (extending the holiday to 8 days).  Let me explain.  

Rabbi Trail:  When I was young, I would ask, “Why do we celebrate two days instead of one day like the Torah says?”  The usual answer to all my questions was simply, “Rabbi said.”  We have to have faith in more than “rabbi said.”  Our faith must be in the promises of God.  Many scriptures contain promises, and many of those promises have already been fulfilled, but not all of them, yet.  End RT.

After the “rabbi said” answer, this is what I got….  This was done to be sure the correct day was celebrated.  The signal to begin the holiday was to light a fire in Jerusalem and from mountain top to mountain top the signal was sent until it went around the (known) world.  Jews living a long distance from Jerusalem were concerned that they might not get the signal until a day late, so they started the custom of celebrating two days to help insure the correct day was one of them.  

Rabbi Trail:  The rabbis consider God’s commands from the Torah to be a fence.  If we cross the fence, that is breaking God’s law (aka “sin”).  To avoid ever breaking God’s law, the rabbis created a “fence within a fence,” a set of stricter standards than God’s law.  Their thinking was that if we don’t cross their fence, we will never even come close to crossing God’s fence.  Yeshua took exception to their efforts when He said, Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, Torah scholars and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint and dill and cumin, yet you have neglected the weightier matters of Torah—justice and mercy and faithfulness. It is necessary to do these things without neglecting the others. 24 O blind guides, straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, Torah scholars and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and uncontrolled desire.  (And Yeshua doesn’t stop there, but I will.  You can keep reading if you like.). End RT.

At Shomair Yisrael, we follow the Israel calendar (like those living in the land).  For us, Passover will end at sundown on Wednesday night, April 15th.  Now you know the long answer to the simple question, “When will Passover be over?”

Now we conclude our study of Psalm 91…

Psalm 91:16 “With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

Could there be a better ending?  God promises long life and the revelation of His “Yeshua.”  We started with abiding under God’s shadow, in His presence, and now, here we are, receiving a promise of long life and Yeshua.  Fantastic!  

Rabbi Trail:  “Fantastic” is a Hebrew word borrowed from English. (So is “bingo” as in “you got it right.”)  The pronunciation changes slightly in Hebrew.  The “a”s are more British, as the British say “aunt” while we (also English speakers) in America say aunt like it’s ant.  (The British also say “fast” as in father, while in America we say “fast” as in absolutely.  Now say it Hebrew style, “Fantastik.”  (It helps to put the accent on the last syllable.). End RT.

God promises long life, but some people don’t live long at all.  How do we reconcile that?  Well, there’s life and then there’s life after life.  There’s life in this world, but that is not all there is.  Long life could also be called eternal life.  We are promised that in God’s presence.  It is available to those who follow the pattern detailed in Psalm 91 and in the rest of Scripture.  

Follow God, get the blessing.  It’s not complicated.  Shabbat shalom.