Torah Portion Highlights – February 2016




Mishpatim – Judgments      

Mishpatim contains the first clear set of commandments, judgments or ordinances, given by God, which detail how He desires His covenant people to live. They illustrate that the God of Israel is passionate about justice, honesty, and morality.

In the flow of ordinances we find mention of the three major annual Feasts: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). The New Testament records the wondrous fulfilment of the first two in Yeshua, Mashiach ben Yosef – Messiah son of Joseph. Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, however, is a prophetic celebration of the End of the Age, when God will gather in His final, full harvest and there will be joy unspeakable at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9) when Yeshua returns to reign as Mashiach ben David – Messiah son of David .

At the close of the portion we see Moses once again ascending the holy mountain, which still is covered with a thick cloud of God’s Presence. He will receive the stone tablets inscribed by the “finger of God” (31:18) with the Ten Words—the encapsulation of the Torah of God. We can imagine the intense delight Moses enjoyed for 40 days and nights as he basked in the glory of the Presence of God; as he saw Him “face to face” and re- ceived further instruction to share with His people.


 Terumah – Heave Offering

When Moses was called once more to ascend Mount Sinai, the Israelites no doubt watched in awe as he disappeared into the cloud and fire of God’s Presence. What great revelation would he now receive on behalf of the Almighty’s newly formed Covenant People? This week’s portion, Terumah, tells us that God had a very practical construction project in mind. He presents Moses with the blueprint containing detailed instructions including materials, items of furniture and their design. He wanted Israel to build Him a home! “Exactly as I show you – the pattern of the Tabernacle [Mishkan] and the pattern of all its furnishings – so shall you make it” (25:1-9).

The word ‘neighbor,’ shakhen, is from the same root as Mishkan, which indicates the close proximity God wants to enjoy with His people. Supplies for the construction of the Mishkan are to be given by the people as a free-will gift (terumah– uplifted donation/heave offering). Terumah is derived from the root “to be exalted and lifted up” – to be set apart for higher purposes. Any donations, tithes, or terumot given happily and freely lifted up to the Lord, including our hearts and lives, are set apart for His higher purposes.


 Tetzaveh – You Shall Command  

In the portion Tetzaveh the name of Moses is not mentioned. The primary focus now shifts to his brother, Aaron, whom God appoints as High Priest. Aaron and his sons are to be instituted and anointed to serve as kohanim (priests) before God in the Holy Tabernacle of His Presence. Moses irrefutably is the leader of the people, as well as God’s prophet and teacher of Torah (His instruction and guidance). Now, in the office of High Priest, Aaron is given the place of intermediary between God and His people in the procedures of worship and service in the Mishkan.

A beautiful prayer in the Daily Prayer Book, the Siddur, entitled: Yah Eli (Yah is my God), contains a poetic paragraph describing the connection between the Tabernacle and the heart: “The Lord of Hosts, with abundant miracles He connected His entire Tabernacle; in the paths of the heart may it blossom. The Rock, His work is perfect! Eternally will I praise You saying, ‘Praiseworthy are those who dwell in Your house’.”

We see a lovely echo in Ephesians: “…Yeshua the Messiah is the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God, by the Spirit” (2:22).

Ki Tissa – When You Take  

The primary focus of Ki Tissa, is Shabbat, the Sabbath. The most dramatic feature, however, is the idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf. Through this sin of idol worship the redeemed people of God cut themselves off from His Presence.

In the pattern of the Scriptures before and after their idolatrous worship [Tabernacle – Shabbat – Sin of Golden Calf – Sabbath – Tabernacle] we see that, together with the intercession of Moses on their behalf, the Lord already had provided a two-fold way of repentance and return. One, the Sanctuary of His Dwelling with the worship and services of the priests and, the other, the Sabbath, when His people, as a kingdom of priests, also can serve God in a special way in the “small sanctuaries” of their homes.

In the pattern noted above another concept is highlighted— the connection between “holy place” and “holy time”. Both are obviously of great importance, but God emphasizes that Shab- bat takes precedence over the Sanctuary. This special day is the first thing He calls holy. The “Sanctuary in Time” that we are to build takes priority over the construction of the physical Temple. God Himself sets the example, as we see at the time of the Creation: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He ceased from all the work of creating that He had done” (Genesis 2:3).

God says: “Be still and know that I Am God!” (Psalm 46:10). We need to “still” our busy minds and restless hearts and rest in His Presence. When we meet with Him at these appointed times in the rest and peace of the Lord of the Sabbath, Yeshua, we come to know our Father God with ever-increasing intimacy. Then we are enabled all the more to see and to savor His Presence in our lives.

~Keren Hannah Pryor 

Based on A Taste of Torah  available via

©  Keren Hannah Pryor –, 2014

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