Thursday, September 13, 2018

Yeshua and the Oral Laws; Traditions of Sukkot

Yeshua and the Oral Laws; Traditions of Sukkot

“He who has not witnessed the rejoicing at the water-drawing huts has, throughout the whole of his life, witnessed no real rejoicing.” (Sukkah 53b).

So what, that’s not in the Torah right? So what does it have to do with us or Yeshua for that matter? This is just a manmade tradition!

Hold up! Yeshua wasn’t against man made traditions or Oral Torah as long as it didn’t nullify the Written Torah. For in the Brit Chadasha we find Yeshua keeping holidays and traditions not commanded in the Written Torah.

During the “Last Supper” Yeshua went by the Haggadah, the liturgy of the Passover Seder. We find Him at the Temple during Chanukah, the “Feast of Dedication” and in John chapter seven we find Him at this Water Pouring Ceremony (Simchat Beit HaShoava) during the last day of Sukkot ('Hoshana Rabbah' - 'The Great Salvation’) mentioned in the Talmud in the text above!

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."” John 7:37-38 (NKJ)

If one carefully studies Talmud and Jewish traditions you will find where Yeshua even added himself into those things as well as the prophecies in the Torah and Tanak.
So how did this water pouring ceremony become such a fixed part of Judaism, even to this day?

“When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, one of the special Sukkot observances was to pour water on the Altar. The drawing of water for this purpose was preceded by all-night celebrations in the Temple courtyard; on the 15 steps leading to the azarah (inner courtyard) stood Levites while playing a variety of musical instruments, sages danced and juggled burning torches, and huge oil-burning lamps illuminated the entire city. The singing and dancing went on until daybreak, when a procession would make its way to the Shiloach Spring which flowed in a valley below the Temple to "draw water with joy." "One who did not see the joy of the water-drawing celebrations," declared the sages of the Talmud, "has not seen joy in his life."

While water was poured each day of the festival, the special celebrations were held only on Chol Hamoed since many of the elements of the celebration (e.g., the playing of musical instruments) are forbidden on Yom Tov.

Today, we commemorate these joyous celebrations by holding Simchat Beit HaShoeivah ("joy of the water drawing") events in the streets, with music and dancing. The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the custom of holding such celebrations on Shabbat and Yom Tov as well -- without musical instruments of course. The fact that we cannot celebrate as we did in the Temple, said the Rebbe, means that we are free to celebrate the joy of Sukkot with singing and dancing every day of the festival.” –

 And why was this ritual so significant, especially in Yeshua’s time?
Well, first off the Cohenim (Levitical Priests) had a special schedule during Sukkot:
The Kohanim were divided into three divisions and each day of Sukkot there was a special ritual. Division one sacrificed the animals and items prescribed out in Numbers 29. Division two went to the East Gate of the Temple and headed to the Motzah Valley where they would discard the sacrificial ashes at the start of Shabbat. While there they would cut 25 foot willows and they would line up across the road holding the willows. About 30 feet behind them would be another row of priests with willow branches. They would then begin to march waving the willows in a swooshing motion creating the sound of the Ruach (Wind), symbolizing the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. Division three in the meantime would be heading down to the pool of Siloam, meaning “peaceful flowing waters” (John 9:7, 11). The Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) was in this third group and he had a golden flask and drew the water called mayim chayim (living waters) because any water that was flowing was considered “living”. The High Priests assistant had a silver flash of wine. Both Groups would return to the Temple with the sound of the Shofar upon their arrival. One man would play the flute, the flute player was called “the pierced one” and symbolizes the Messiah (Psa. 22:16, Zech. 12:10, John 19:34-37, Rev. 1:7) and the flute players led the procession of the “wind” and “water” carrying priests. The Willow carriers would circle the Brazen Sacrificial Altar seven times while singing Psalm 118:25-26; the sacrificial division of priests would lay the slain sacrifices on the altar. Then the Cohen HaGadol and his assistant the ascended the altar and all Israel gathered into the Temple courts and sang a song called “Mayim (Water)” based on Isa. 12:3 according to Mishnah Sukkot 5:1. Then the High Priest poured out the water on the southwest corner of the altar on the horn, and then the wine was poured out as the Willow holders leaned their branches against the altar and made a sort of Sukkah.

According to the Mishnah Rosh HaShannah 1:2f says that it is during Sukkot that God decides who gets rains for next year and how much. Sukkot is also that time after Yom Kippur when it is said that the fate of each human is decided for the next year and the books in heaven are closed. So this is probably another reason for the water pouring ceremony, a type of supplication for rains.

These rituals and ceremonies are nowhere commanded in the Torah but the Rabbis and Sages feel by the spelling inconsistencies in Numbers 29 that spell the word ‘mayim” they nonetheless base the tradition of the water pouring ceremony on the Torah itself.
Rabbi Akiva (Ta'anit 2b) asserted that the water libation was alluded to in the Torah with the use of the plural form nesakhehah ("drink-offerings thereof") on the sixth day (Numbers 29:31), reflecting that one of the two libations consists of water.
“On Succoth even the humblest of all has its place on the Altar: water. The Midrash tells us that at the time of creation, the waters cried out to G-d that everyone has a place on the Altar -- oxen, sheep, wheat, barley, oil, wine. All except for water. The waters threatened to engulf the world until G-d promised them that on the festival of Succoth, Israel would offer a libation of humble water on the Altar, accompanied by SIMCHAS BEIS HASHO-EVA, "the Joy of the Water Drawing", which was so great that it brought people to prophecy.

The water libation on Succoth is not written explicitly in the Torah but only allusively. Three seemingly minute anomalies in the Hebrew phrasing of the laws of the offerings of the second, sixth and seventh days of the festival of Succoth, enable us to trace the letters of the word Hebrew word MAYIM -- WATER -- running through the Hebrew text (see Rashi on Numbers 29:18).” – Gil Marks

Three anomalies are derived from looking at how words are rendered differently on the second, sixth, and seventh days of the Festival:

1. Second day - "their libations" (Heb. niskeyhem נסקיהם), where there is an extra "yod" (י) and an extra "final mem" (ם) in the usual rendering of "its libation" (Heb. niskah נסקה).
2. Sixth day - "its libations" (Heb. niskeyhah נסקיה), where the usual rendering of "its libation" (Heb. niskah נסקה) has an extra "yod" (י).
3. Seventh day - "after the manner" (Heb. KaMishpatam כמשפטם), which has an extra "final mem" (ם) when compared to the other instances of "after the manner" (Heb. KaMishpat כמשפט) in this passage.

These anomalies actually gives us two extra "mems" and two extra "yods", however the Hebrew word for "water" (Heb. "mayim" מים) only needs one of the "yods". What are we to do with the extra "yod"? That lies in the realm of the Kabbalah and we will not delve into that here.

And obviously Yeshua had NO PROBLEM with it and included Himself with in the derived tradition.

A custom, a tradition, something that the Pharisees and Sadducees did; something that made it into the Talmud that Yeshua did not oppose but participated in and used to proclaim His divine Messiahship! Therefore it stands to reason His own talmidim were there and participated too and the believers that came after his resurrection and ascension.

We see now why He said:

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

A further fulfillment was when Yeshua was executed on the Roman cross and blood (symbolizing the wine) and water flowed (John 19:34).

GOD the Father obviously didn’t have a problem with this man made ritual for HE told Yeshua to go and deliver such a message, for Yeshua speaks only what the Father bids Him to (John 5:19, 30; 8:28; 14:28).

Kris Shoemaker – Yehudah ben Shomeyr