Parable #27. Lowliest seat at the Feast:
- Today is Day #27
- The Twenty-seventh Mashal of Messiah
- Four Observations
Today is Day #27:
1. Today is “Day #27” in the forty-nine day Countdown to Shavuot.
2. Today is twenty-seven days which are three weeks and six days of the Omer.
.היום שבעה ועשרים יום, שהם שלושה שבועות ושישה ימים בעומר
Haiyom shiváh v’esrim yom, shehaym shloshah shavuot vehishah yamim ba’omer.
“You shall count for yourselves — from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving — seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days.” (Leviticus). “You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle is first put to the standing crop shall you begin counting seven weeks. Then you will observe the Festival of Shavu’ot for Adonai Eloheinu.” (Deuteronomy).
“Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.”
ברוך אתה, אדוני אלוהינו, מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצוונו על ספירת העומר.פ
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sefirat ha’omer.
The Twenty-seventh Mashal of Messiah:
וַיִּשָׂא מְשָׁלוֹ אֶל־הַקְּרוּאִים בִּרְאוֹתוֹ אֶת־אֲשֶׁר בָּחֲרוּ לָהֶם לָשֶׁבֶת בְּרֹאשׁ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם׃ כִּי־יִקְרָא אֹתְךָ אִישׁ אֶל־הַחֲתֻנָּה אַל־תָּסֵב בְּרֹאשׁ פֶּן־יִקָּרֵא שָׁמָּה אִישׁ נִכְבָּד מִמֶּךָ׃ וּבָא הַקֹּרֵא לְךָ וְלוֹ וְאָמַר אֵלֶיךָ פַּנֵּה מָקוֹם לָזֶה וְאָז תָּקוּם בִּכְלִמָּה לָשֶׁבֶת בַּמָּקוֹם הָאַחֲרוֹן׃ וְכִי תִקָּרֵא לֵךְ וְהָסֵב בַּמָּקוֹם הָאַחֲרוֹן לְמַעַן יָבֹא הַקֹּרֵא לְךָ וְאָמַר אֵלֶיךָ אֲהוּבִי עֲלֵה לְמַעְלָה מִזֶּה וְהָיָה־לְךָ כָבוֹד לִפְנֵי הַמְסֻבִּים עִמָּךְ׃
He (the Mashiach) took up His mashal to the guests (invitees) when He saw that they had chosen to sit at the front. He said to them: “If a man invites you to his wedding celebration, do not recline at the head (the place of honor) or else someone else more distinguished (honored) than you may also be invited there. The host will come to you and him and tell you, ‘Clear a place for him.’ Then you will get up ashamedly to sit at the place at the end. But if you are are invited, sit in the place at the end so that the host will come and say to you, ‘My friend move up higher than this!’ It will bring you honor before those reclining with you.”
כִּי כָּל־הַמְרוֹמֵם עַצְמוֹ יִשָּׁפֵל וְהַמַּשְׁפִּיל אֶת עַצְמוֹ יְרוֹמָם׃
“Everyone who lifts himself up will be brought low, but everyone who lowers himself will be lifted up.”
Observation #1. Just prior to the mashal of the “Lowliest seat at the Feast,” Messiah had conveyed to the lawyers and Separated Ones (Prushim, Pharisees) that they were wrong to criticize His healing persons on the Sabbath. So the Master asked the religious leaders:
“Is it lawful (halakha) to heal on Shabbat, or not?”
The answer should have been “yes.” Yes it is a proper observance of the Shabbat (shomer shabbat) to heal on the Sabbath. Instead the religious elite just chose to criticize healing or just remain silent and indifferent to the issue. So in response to the criticism and the silence (indifference) the Master asked a follow-up question:
וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם מִי בָכֶם הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר חֲמֹרוֹ אוֹ שׁוֹרוֹ יִפּוֹל אֶל־הַבְּאֵר וְלֹא־יְמַהֵר לְהַעֲלוֹתוֹ בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת׃
“Which one of you if his donkey or ox fell into a well would not quickly lift it out on the day of Shabbat?”
And the experts in Torah could make no reply to this question. This tells me that the Master was attempting to bring to light the religious leaders lack of care and concern for the value of others.
Observation #2. The Master believed that Adonai (the Lord of the Sabbath) placed such an incredible value on His Image (Tselem Elohim) that the sacred value of a person’s life exceeded the sacred value of the Sabbath itself. Therefore, Messiah said:
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם הַשַּׁבָּת נִתְּנָה בַּעֲבוּר הָאָדָם וְלֹא הָאָדָם בַּעֲבוּר הַשַּׁבָּת׃
“Shabbat was given for the sake of Man, and not Man for the sake of Shabbat.”
The religious leaders desperately needed to understand the incredible value that the Holy One places on every human life. Tragically, these leaders were unwilling to hear, understand, and obey the Messiah, who is the Voice of Adonai (Kol Adonai). Nevertheless, the Master afforded them full opportunity to change and taught them anyway.
Observation #3. Messiah continued to instruct the leaders by using a parable to illustrate to them that if they were to come into compliance with Adonai’s will they not only needed to care more about others but they needed to care less about themselves.
Observation #4. In the mashal/parable of the “Lowliest seat at the Feast,” the Master is teaching the Kingdom of Adonai principle that:
פ“כָּכָה יִהְיוּ הָאַחֲרוֹנִים רִאשׁוֹנִים וְהָרִאשׁוֹנִים אַחֲרוֹנִים.”פ
“So the last shall be first and the first last.”
The twenty-seventh mashal of Messiah emphasizes the wisdom of one being humble (עֲנָוָה-anavah) and compassionate (הֱיוּ מְלֵאֵי רַחֲמִים-to be full of rachumim). Before honor comes humility (לִפְנֵ֖י כָב֣וֹד עֲנָוָֽה).
אל תעשו דבר מתוך תחרות, אף לא מתוך כבוד שוא, אלא בנמיכות רוח יחשב איש איש את רעהו לנכבד ממנו. פ
Do not do anything out of rivalry (תחרות-competition) or self-conceit (כבוד שוא-false honor) but in humility (בנמיכות רוח-lowliness of spirit) each person is to honor every other person higher than himself.
In humility we are to be kind to one another, full of compassion, forgiving each other, just as Adonai in the Messiah has forgiven us. The foolish man who (covertly) practices the pride of life and love of self as his governing principle (self-exaltation) in this life will be abased in the messianic kingdom to come (the wedding feast to come). In contrast, if a man serves others as unto Adonai with lowliness (humility), generosity, and compassion in this life, then exaltation will follow him in the Kingdom of Adonai to come. Messiah, the Son of Man, has set for us an example. He is the Humble Man who humbled Himself more than any other man. For Messiah, Ish Makhovot (Man of Sorrows), had at the first taken the lowest place to become the Servant-leader of all humankind.
Messiah is the Suffering Servant who sacrificed His life for our salvation.
For this reason the exaltation of Messiah is very great. He who descended to the lowest regions… has ascended to the “highest place,” far above the highest heavens: above all rule, authority and power. Therefore, the Holy Servant (Eved HaKadosh) who chose to be the Servant-Savior of all (HaMoshia l’chol Adam) is now the Heir of All Things (Nachalah Vakol) and the Head of All Things (Rosh l’khol-ha’edah). Due to His humility and compassion the Righteous One (our Tzaddik) is now seated at the Right Hand of the Majesty on High (הַגְּדֻלָּה בַּמְרוֹמִים-HaGedullah Bameromim).
Therefore, our Messiah encourages us to be far-sighted; to think ahead far into the future; even toward eternity. What will your status be in the future messianic age and eternity? The religious leaders were instructed to look to the future where a life of humble service will be celebrated on the day of the resurrection of the righteous and where a life of self-service will not.
As a follow-up comment about the wisdom of humility and the folly of self-promotion the Master once again reminded His fellow Yehudim of the importance of our obeying the mitzvah of hospitality:
“When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Messiah is reminding us (Israel) of the absolute importance Adonai Avinu places on our practice of hachnasat orchim (הכנסת אורחים).
Hachnasat Orchim literally means “Bringing in the Guests.” The “bringing in” means we cause others to come in. Come in where? Through the mitzvah of hospitality we are causing others to be reconciled to Abba Avinu, to come into His Kingdom of heaven on earth. Through the mitzvah of ‘Bringing in the Guests’ we believing Jews are causing others (the gentiles as well as Jews) to come into the wedding feast of the generous provision of the Father of Mercies (Avi HaRachamim) who is the G-d of All Comfort (אלֹהֵי כָּל נֶחָמָה-Elohei akhol-Nechamah).
Like our father Abraham, the friend of G-d, we are putting all others (without discrimination) before ourselves because we put Abba Avinu before ourselves. And we know that our reward for taking the lowest place will be exceedingly great!