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Vayikra/Leviticus 23:37 These are the appointed times of the L-rd, that you shall call: callings of holiness ... the matter of [the] day on its day.
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This verse forms a summary block at the end of the feast cycle laid out in Vayikra chapter 23, between two paragraphs dealing with the feast of Sukkot. The word is the construct form of , in turn the plural of , a noun from the root , to appoint or meet (Davidson). A is a set or appointed time of meeting, perhaps best known in the phrase the Tent of Meeting. The appointed times are the festival times, positioned around the year, thatHaShem has set for meeting with His people. They are fixed appointments, pre-written in the calendar for all time, when HaShem has promised to be available and the people are commanded to appear before Him.
The verb - the Qal prefix 2mp form of the root , to call or to read - is plural as these are Moshe's words to the Children of Israel (cf. 23:2). They - that is, the people - are to call out or as we might say 'proclaim' these feasts. This must be done in advance so that people know that they are coming in time to prepare food for the festivals and to order their work so that they can take the festival day off from their normal work in order to set it apart for HaShem. As the whole verse explains: "Those are the set times of the L-RD that you shall celebrate as sacred occasions, bringing offerings by fire to the L-RD -- burnt offerings, meal offerings, sacrifices, and libations, on each day what is proper to it" (Vayikra 23:37, JPS); these are days for worship and focus on HaShem as RabbiHirsch points out: "All the feasts ... have but one common purpose: to nourish and foster, ever afresh, the Jewish people's devotion to keeping alive on earth the fire of G-d's Torah." That is a fire offering to the L-rd.
According to Israel Drazin and Stanley Wagner, the meaning of the phrase is obscure. The problem is that two verbs , to call or read, and , to meet, are homonyms and that , to happen, is very similar in sound and sometimes appearance. Drazin and Wagner suggest that "sacred event" is a suitable translation, as this also reflects the rabbinic view that one should turn the holiday into a holy event.Nachmanides writes that, "It is in fact a commandment for all Jews to gather in the house of G-d on festival days in fresh clothing to sanctify them publicly with prayer and praise to G-d, and to make them days of feasting. For our tradition applies Ezra's words on Rosh Hashanah to all the festivals in general: 'Go, eat choice foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to whoever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our L-rd. Do not be sad, for your rejoicing in the L-rd is the source of your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10, JPS)".
For the last few words in the verse - - Baruch Levine offers the translation "On each day what is proper", with the comment that this "is an administrative formula, originally employed in delineating disbursements of food and other materials (for example, the daily allocation of food given King Jehoiachin in exile in Babylon, 2 Kings 25:30, or the daily duties or rations for the singers in the rebuilt Temple (Nehemiah 11:23). It is also appropriate for listing offerings prescribed for particular occasions."Rashi applies this phrase to the correct offerings being offered on each festival according to the detailed schedules found in B'Midbar chapters 28-29, commenting that "if its day has passed, its offering is cancelled" (b. Berachot 26a, b. Temurah 14a). That is, if the set or fixed offerings for one day were not made correctly, or not in full or even not at all, they cannot be made on the next day. Conversely, it also means that set of fixed offerings cannot be made in advance, they can only be brought on the right day - when they are due. Anyone can, of course, bring a voluntary offering on any day they choose, but the formal set offerings can only be made on the particular day required.
This phrase does give us a background and context for some of Yeshua's words in the Sermon on the Mount: "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34, ESV). Following in the vein of Richard Hays' writing about intertextuality, this might be an intertextual echo of our text: obviously not a direct quote or even an allusion, but an echo - something heard softly - of a thought or idea grounded in or informed by the verse from the Torah. Yeshua tells the disciples to take each day as it comes; to trust in G-d's provision day by day: "do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" (v. 25, ESV). And here's the link to the idea of set or fixed offerings: "your heavenly Father knows that you need them all" (v. 32, ESV) - G-d already knows what the needs for each day are. Be that food, drink, clothing, shelter, resources or materials; He is there before us and knows what He needs to do to provide for us. All we have to do is ask; this is why Yeshua teaches the disciples to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread" (v. 11, ESV). Here we have an echo of the manna that was provided for our people in the wilderness: daily bread, gathered each day for the day.
This is terribly liberating, as it enables us to focus on what we need to do, the things that we need to accomplish as we serve Him, without needing to waste our focus and energy on sourcing daily provisions. We can concentrate on forwarding the kingdom of G-d as Yeshua said: "But seek first the kingdom of G-d and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (v. 33, ESV). It is when we step back from the position of insisting that our hand must be on the tiller and the throttle at all times, and allow G-d to navigate our journey that the most exciting and most rewarding times can come.
How do we put this into practice? Most people don't go out and buy their food each day; shopping is a weekly - or for some, monthly - exercise. Clothes may be bought just two or three times a year. Taxes and utilities tend to be monthly; other expenses such as car servicing will only be done once a year. Running a budget allows us to spread our expenses across the year, and is not the laying up of "treasure on earth" (v. 19) that Yeshua warns against, provided that we are not accumulating wealth. At the same time, sometimes we just have to spend the money where and when it is needed and trust that G-d will provide more for other needs further along the line. Prudence dictates that retirement planning be a part of every wage-earner's responsibility in these days in which we live; simply assuming that the second coming will have happened by the time we get there is not an option and even life insurance at certain times of life is a just and sensible precaution, as Rav Sha'ul counsels: "If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8, NASB). This must be done in the most appropriate way for the culture and time in which we live.
This then is a contemporary reflection of our text's "callings of holiness". We are to set apart times when we celebrate before the L-rd with as much abandon as did the ancient Israelites, appropriately for each day, on its day. The biblical calendar provides a sturdy and functional framework for these, summoning us to meet with the L-rd at the key times and seasons around the year that He has chosen for His people. Other non-biblical (and that doesn't mean anti-biblical) occasions such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries also provide excellent "on the day" opportunities to rejoice together and praise our Father who has "kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season."1 We are also to enjoy spontaneous non-calendar days and times that just happen; these too are opportunities to bless G-d and to be holy people before Him. We look to Him to provide the means and the wherewithal not only for the special times but the ordinary times - day in and day out, week or month at a time as He has situated us in life - trusting that He knows exactly what is needed and when, and husbanding His kingdom resources appropriately to exercise our duty of stewardship. Both are appointed times of the L-rd!
1. - This is the closing phrase of the traditional Jewish Shecheheyanu blessing.
Further Study: Esther 9:20-22; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; James 4:13-14
Application: Do you struggle to trust G-d for His provision in your life? Why not ask the Chief Accountant and Financial Officer of the universe to show you how He intends to provide for you over the next week or month and then work with Him to see it happen. Then you'll know how to do it!
© Jonathan Allen, 2016
Comment - 17May16 12:14 Tom: Esther and Mordecai are good examples to us all in respects of their trust in God despite or because of the peril of their situation. St. Paul reminds us that we are more likely to be like this if we practically pay for our keep. Above all if we attend to Jesus and ask God to give us each day enough bread for just that day and the next day, we are likely to have more trust in G-d as you say.
Comment - 11:59 07Mar20 Edward Bishop Sr: An appropriate lesson for today. We find ourselves in a situation where we must trust in the wisdom of our God. The natural man would run to family and friends and ask for help not thinking about the problems they may be facing at that time. Now is the time we must trust in the Lord with all our hearts. My understanding cannot be a point draws me to the faulty trust in man but rather the blessed assurance of Messiah Yeshua and His fathomless love and provision.
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