Reflections on Parashah Shof'tim
Rabbi Mark Rantz
Beit Hallel Messianic Congregation
August 14, 2021 | Sixth of Ellul, 5781
Monday (August 9th, 2021), on the Gregorian calendar was the first day of the month Ellul, 5781. As we have been in our study of the Weeks of Consolation, in the month of Ellul, we are reminded of the Goodness of Adonai, who holds compassion for us in our weakness, in every hardship and every struggle.
Within the Jewish calendar, Adonai provides grace in every season all marked by the “chol” (the mundane) and “kodesh,” or (the holy). This is best seen in our Havdalah prayer, “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who distinguishes between the holy and the mundane, between light and darkness, between Isra’el and the nations, and between the seventh day and the six days of work.” Yet despite the polarities created by these distinctives, the month of Ellul reflects those points of holiness within the Hebrew calendar providing a haven in time, a city of refuge from the ravages of the material life and a time for us to audit our spiritual accounts prior to the High Holy Days.
In this, our Sages remind that Ellul is a time where God relates to Isra’el “in a more open and compassionate manner” than He does during other months of the year. Of this, detractors might contradict that God (who never changes) is always the same, and that Ellul has no significance over other times of the year. But is this true? In answer, we must remember that although the Lord never changes (Heb. 13:8), He provides Moedim (times set apart by God) for special purposes within His Kingdom. Therefore, as we reflect on this holy month, the days of Ellul provides a bit of a paradox and a reminder of God’s intent to heal and redeem us. Of this, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lliadi gives the following metaphor - The usual place of a King is his court, within his capital city and within his royal palace. In this, anyone wishing to approach the King must go through proper channels of palace bureaucracy to be extended an invitation and be welcomed by the monarch. When given an audience with the King, one must journey to the capital, pass through the many gates, corridors, and antechambers - leading to the secure throne room. Even then, as one approaches - it is with great trepidation and fear - all guided by unquestionable etiquette. Yet during the month of Ellul, the King is not on his throne, he is not in the palace or even within his private chamber! Instead, he is in the field - out in the open and apart from his garrison, dwelling with his subjects - as one of them.
For us as believers in Yeshua, this holds profound significance in knowing that Yeshua has made His dwelling with us (John 1:14) and that as we “Come to the Field.” It is Messiah who is there waiting for us as we approach these Most Holy Days. From this, the Days of Consolation all come into proper perspective as we consider that as Adonai forgives us of our sins, He also heals, consoles, and comforts us every step of the way.
- Rabbi Mark Rantz
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