Parable #37. The Parush and the Tax Collector:
- Today is Day #37
- The Thirty-seventh Mashal of Messiah
- The Parush did not go up to the Temple for the right reason
- Confession and Repentance
- On Yom Kippur Confession is done in the standing position while striking the heart
- We need forgiveness and a New Heart
Today is Day #37:
1. Today is “Day #37” in the forty-nine day Countdown to Shavuot.
2. Today is thirty-seven days, which are five weeks and two days of the Omer.
.היום שבעה ושלושים יום, שהם חמישה שבועות ושני ימים בעומר
Haiyom shiv’ah ushloshim yom, shehaym chamishah shavuot ushnay 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 Thirty-seventh Mashal of Messiah:
שְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים עָלוּ אֶל־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֶחָד פָּרוּשׁ וְאֶחָד מוֹכֵס׃ וַיַּעֲמֹד הַפָּרוּשׁ לְבַדּוֹ וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל לֵאמֹר אוֹדְךָ אֱלֹהִים עַל כִּי אֵינֶנִּי כְּיֶתֶר הָאָדָם הַגֹּזְלִים וְהָעשְׁקִים וְהַנֹּאֲפִים וְגַם־לֹא כַּמֹּכֵס הַזֶּה׃ אֲנִי צָם פַּעֲמַיִם בַּשָּׁבוּעַ אֲנִי מְעַשֵׂר אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי קֹנֶה׃ וְהַמּוֹכֵס עָמַד מֵרָחוֹק וְלֹא אָבָה לָשֵׂאת אֶת־עֵינָיו הַשָּׁמַיְמָה וְתוֹפֵף עַל־לִבּוֹ וַיֹּאמַר אֱלֹהִים סְלַח־לִי אֲנִי הַחוֹטֵא׃ אֲנִי אֹמֵר לָכֶם כִּי־יָרַד זֶה לְבֵיתוֹ נִצְדָּק מִזֶּה כִּי כָּל־הַמֵּרִים נַפְשׁוֹ יִשָּׁפֵל וַאֲשֶׁר יַשְׁפִּילָהּ יְרוֹמָם׃
“Two men went up to the Temple (הַמִּקְדָּשׁ) to pray. One was a Parush (פָּרוּשׁ-Pharisee) and the other a tax collector (מוֹכֵס). The Parush stood by himself and prayed, saying, “I thank you, Adonai, that I am not like the rest of the people—thieves and exploiters and adulterers—and also that I am not like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I bring a ma’aser (מְעַשֵׂר-a tenth, tithe) of all that I acquire.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and was not willing to lift his eyes toward Heaven. He beat on his heart and said, ‘Adonai, forgive me! I am the sinner!’ I say to you that this one went back down to his house made more righteous than the other (lit. but others are ‘scorned in their eyes’), because all who lift themselves up will be brought low, but whoever lowers himself will be lifted up.”
Confession and Repentance:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Parush (Pharisee) and the other a tax collector. The Parush stood and was praying this to himself: ‘Adonai, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’”
The Parush was busy praying to himself. Not G-d.
The Parush (Pharisee) *stood and was praying to himself. He sure was not talking to Adonai. He was engaged in a monologue within himself. He was encouraging and affirming himself. He was the “separated one” and “holy one.” He was ‘holier than thou:’ better than the others at the Temple. He was the self-appointed ‘best of the best.’ But really? Was he really the best of the best in the eyes of Adonai? The Mashiach says, “No!” What did he do that was so wrong? He did not go up to the Temple for the right reason to do confession (viduy) and repentance (teshuvah). The Torah’s commandment to repent makes explicit mention of confession, not of repentance (Numbers 5:6-7). Confessing the words “I have sinned” is the performance of a great and meaningful act. The act of confession must be performed before repentance can be regarded as complete.
The Parush did not go up to the Temple for the right reason:
This arrogant, hyper-religious man failed to confess his sins to Adonai.
Since he had not confessed his sins He could not return to Adonai; without confession there can be no teshuvah, literally “return” to Adonai. Instead, this arrogant, self-important person chose to turn the Temple into a place of competition: a kind of religious Olympics where he, the superior one, self-righteously envisioned himself winning all of the medals…Tragically this was not prayer at all. The Parush’s time spent at the temple, therefore, was a waste of his time. Without confession Adonai refused to ‘hear’ any of this person’s communications.
The only one who heard this self-righteous man’s communications was “himself.”
*The pious Parush and the tax-collector were “standing.” It is very strange that the Messiah would even use the word “standing.” In Temple times everyone stood. Everyone stood all of the time because there were no chairs to sit on! However, today the word ”standing” really means something. We all stand once a year during the Yom Kippurim services. During these services we pray the following prayer: “We have sinned against You purposely and by mistake…We have sinned against You by speaking badly of others…We have sinned against You by greed and oppressive interest…We have sinned against You by rashly judging others…For all these sins, forgiving Adonai, forgive us, pardon us. Grant us atonement.” Notice that the so called holy man, the Parush, was actually practicing several of these sins while delivering his prayer to Adonai; rather than confessing and repenting of them. How very strange that religion so often is the very means by which we further alienate ourselves from Abba Avinu and each other. The irony in the mashal is that it is the non-practicing Jew (the tax-collector) that is the justified one and it is the practicing Jew (the Parush) who is the unjustified one.
On Yom Kippur Confession is done in the standing position while striking the heart:
“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘Adonai, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” Since confession is such a major aspect of the repentance process, it is recited during each of the five prayers of Yom Kippur:
One should recite his confession in the standing position with his head slightly bowed to express submission and contrition and in a voice audible only to himself. It is customary to strike one’s heart, the seat of passion and desire, with one’s fist while reciting each stanza of the confessional, as if to say:
“I have sinned due to the unwise counsel and wayward thoughts of you, my heart.”
In contrast to the self-righteous Parush the tax-collector knew how to pray. He knew himself to be a sinner who was in need of forgiveness for himself, his family, and his Hebrew nation. He knew where the source of the problem was:
He knew he suffered from a bad heart.
At the core of his being the penitent Hebrew man knew that he needed forgiveness (which is something you can never earn) and he knew he needed help for the future:
He knew he needed a miracle, He needed forgiveness and a New Heart!
We need forgiveness and a New Heart:
“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Our attitude toward the Holy One of Israel is absolutely critical here. Adonai gives grace to the humble but He opposes the proud. He does not want “sacrifice.” Avinu HaRachamim (our Father of Mercies) wants “mercy:” He does not want a perpetual process of religious sacrifice that never really solves the core problem. We need more than forgiveness followed by a perpetual, unending process of more sins. We need Divine Help to one day be assured of our being permanently changed from being forgiven sinners to becoming non-sinning “righteous ones.” The core problem is why we strike our hearts. When we ask for forgiveness for sin in the past we are also asking Abba Avinu for His Help not to sin in the future.
We need the gifted, new, Unfailing Heart of the Spirit now!.
We need the gift of the Indwelling Presence of Adonai Avinu (ה’ אבינו). We all desperately need the Indwelling Presence of the Spirit of Grace and Truth (chesed and emet). He is our “Helper” Who can bring to us His regenerating life that will permanently change us from the Inside-out!