WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING
Torah Portion: Parashat Emor ("Say, Speak!")
Shabbat: May 6, 2023 Iyyar 15, 5783
Torah: Lev. 21:1-24:23
Prophets: Ezek. 44:15- 44:31
New Covenant: 1 Pet. 2:4-10
TODAY’S PRAYER OF AGREEMENT
Paul’s prayer in Colossians
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”. Colossians 1:9-14
There may come a severe test of your faith, when it would be better to give up your life than to deny God's will, since God's truth is so valuable that to repudiate it would be worse than death itself... A verse from the Torah reads: "You shall not profane my holy name, that I may be made sacred among the people of Israel" (Lev. 22:32), which the early sages said provides the basis for "kiddush HaShem" (קידוש השם), a phrase that means honoring God's truth even if that might require giving up your life to do so. (On the other hand, denying God's truth or blasphemy is called "chillul HaShem" [חילול השם] a phrase that means disregarding God's authority over our lives.) Sanctifying God's name means we regard our relationship to God to be an end in itself - our ultimate concern - and there is therefore nothing higher that may challenge our duty before heaven. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). Indeed our mortal life in this fleeting world is a means to the end of reaching our eternal destiny, and esteeming the means above the end is therefore idolatry. In other words, we exist only because of God, and when we live according to God's truth, we take a firm stand against corrupt culture by denying its its godless ideology, its benighted value system, its phony relativism, its arrogant skepticism, and so on. Our faith may lead us into collision with the world and its spurious power structures: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Taking a stand for transcendental truth will make you an outsider to the "crowd" and its endless idols and vanities. Indeed a person of genuine moral conviction may be labeled an "enemy of the state," may be persecuted as a "terrorist," and may even suffer martyrdom. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego rightfully defied the king's decree to bow down before the "golden image," and they confessed that they were willing to die rather than betray the truth of the LORD of Israel (see Dan 3). This is a prime example of kiddush HaShem, of honoring the truth of God even at the risk of losing our lives. For many Jews, reciting the Shema is a solemn declaration that we esteem the truth of God above all things, that God alone is our ultimate good, and that we must be willing to surrender our lives rather than to deny the greatness and glory of His Name. May tzaddikim have died with the Shema on their lips...
"Because your lovingkindness is better than life,
my lips will praise you."
(Psalm 63:3) hebrew4christians.com