Rabbi Chaim Eisen graced our fellowship in February of 2023 with teachings and interactions that were lovely. Among the many things he enumerated was that the high spirituality of our faith must be concretized—made practical in the tangible world; otherwise, we tend to fall into a fluidity of belief that wanders away into soulish realms of relativism.
In light of that thought, let us consider five commands in Deuteronomy 22, the first twelve verses. They have to do with:
Concern for the property of our brother or sister, our neighbor.
The detail in this command shows how intricately God expects us to care for our brother—even for “our brother whom we do not know”—that is, our human brother, our neighbor. Jesus referred to this command when he demonstrated that even on the shabbat we are to help our neighbor lift his ox out of a ditch into which it has fallen. [Luke 14:5] This he said not to demean the sabbath but instead to indicate that “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” and that “the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath” and that “it is lawful to do well on the sabbath.” [Mark 2:27; Matthew 12:8, 12]
The issue of not confusing sexual identity through cross-dressing.
God considers transvestitism to be “TO-EY’VAH”—ABOMINATION: as Dr. Strong says, “something morally disgusting; an abhorrence; especially idolatry or (concretely) an idol:–abominable (custom, thing), abomination.”
The paganism of our times has elevated this practice into the worship of the human form in the most disruptive way possible by confusing gender and ultimately by removing from children their God-ordained function by way of loss of created identity. That there are times when a baby is born without a clear sexual identity is so rare that it is a moot point of natural differentiation: sexual identity is the beginning of the up-raising of a human being to his or her God-given function and purpose.
Each gender that God has created has an interconnected purpose in relation to the other. It is our task as humans to follow God’s purpose and therefore not to wander away form that purpose by misassignment of natural identity and function. Such a simple thing as the clothes one wears has everything to do with how that person operates in the world of humanity. When a society ceases to define itself as God does in the scriptures, that society begins to fragment and to descend into a moral collapse that eventuates in utter dissolution and civilizational death. If we follow this commandment from the heart and with understanding then we will sustain our families and our nations in health before the face of our Creator.
The remarkable command to not take from a bird’s nest that you encounter on the road both the mother and her young.
This is an utter rebuke to the spirit of abortion-ism: the cutting off of the cycle of life by killing the baby with the mother. There is more to the command than this, but I will stop with the comment just given: it is so apropos to this generation. Systematic reduction of human population has been a recurring phenomenon in history just before the advent of a Messianic intervention in the world. This is clearly evident in the lives of Moses and Jesus. The current fetish indicates an impending Messianic intervention once more; perhaps the eschaton.
The construction of a protective railing on the roof of one’s new house so that blood not be levied against your house if “a faller falls from it.”
The biblical protections from spilling blood are so explicit and detailed that a command like this one, and like the command for how a nearby city is to remove from itself the guilt of innocent blood when a body is found slain in the open field close to the city, puts strong emphasis on the sanctity of blood. There is much in the scriptures related to this. For instance, we are never to eat blood, for “the life is in the blood.” [Genesis 9:4, et al. Even Christians are to refrain from the eating of blood. See Acts 15 in this regard.] The ethics underlying this command is related to the sanctity of life. The original reference noted in Genesis 9 is in relation to the pre-diluvian society that was characterized by violence and evil imaginations in every moment their thought life. Thus, this command is a requirement that we reign in our thoughts and that we put a restraint on our motivations and on our actions. The current rash in America of mass killings, many of them random in nature, indicates that we are living in a time that is increasingly becoming “like the days of Noah” that our Lord spoke of concerning the end of the age prior to his return. [Matthew 24:37-42]
The command to wear tzitziot on the fringes of one’s garment; that is, to keep constantly before your eyes and awareness the commandments of the LORD: The Primacy of Constant Awareness of the Holiness of God through His Commandments which we are to perform. For the Christian especially, this is the continual awareness that we are IN YESHUA, that we walk in him and that we speak in him and that we live and move in him unto the glory of God our Father. In so doing, we “observe [obey] all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” [Matthew 28:20] The term “world” is the translation of the Greek word “aion” which roughly equates to the Hebrew word “olam”—age, cosmos, eternity. In other words, “in him we live, and move and have our being” for “God was IN MESSIAH reconciling the world unto himself.” [Acts 17:28; 2 Corinthians 5:19 with 13-21]
The ethics involved in the wearing of tzitzit is simply that when one keeps ever before himself the commandments of the LORD, that person will have an inner framework of righteousness by which he or she will live an ethical life.
All of these commands help us to form our lives—thoughts, speech, motivations, imaginations and actions—according to God’s design for us as humans. May we heed the commands and may we walk in the holiness of our Lord who has set the path of his clean life before us in order that we may follow in his steps. [Matthew 4:19; John 21:22; 1 Peter 2:21]