The leading voice of political commentary at the beginning of the 21st century was probably none other than Jon Stewart (and Rush Limbaugh on the right – but with noticeably less cultural sway).
If the core message of his nightly searing commentary had to be boiled down to a few words, it would be this: “the following people are hypocrites,” and then they would cue their patented video clips demonstrating the hypocrisy of said individuals.
The jarring contradictions were hilariously head-spinning but were also instructive about the necessity for the electorate to hold their representatives accountable. These segments resonated so fiercely with audiences across the country because hypocrisy cuts against our most basic sensibilities about the importance of honesty; for our words to match our actions.
Fast forward 18 years and pretty much the only thing that this divided nation can still agree on is that that biggest contemporary sin is: hypocrisy. Yet this is not a new phenomenon; loathing insincere words that don’t match the actions carried out right beforehand goes back 3,000 years.
Leviticus 5:23-25 talks about an individual that unjustly took for himself the property of his fellow.
What is this man to do when he is ready to repent? He has to return the property to the owner, and he must also bring a sin-offering to the Temple for expiation.
It makes sense why the property needs to be returned to the aggrieved party, but why the necessity to also bring a sin offering on top of that?
As it is stated in Job: ‘A hypocrite shall not come before” God.
God cares about actions that demonstrate the heart of a person, not the words that are used to paper over their backsliding.
The book of Exodus dedicates half of its chapters to the Israelites building the Mishkan from scratch, the abode to house the presence of God.
Leviticus, on the other hand, focuses on the importance of the internal work that must be done, first and foremost, before one can even consider entering into that newly built presence of God.
The reflection on this chapter is part of the broader 929 project where you read a chapter-a-day (weekends excluded – so only 5 chapters per week) of the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible.
We are working our way towards February 2, 2022.
Where do you hope to be in your spiritual journey by then?