Messiah 101
Foundational Principles of Messiah
R' Richard Pustelniak
November 19, 2000

Repentance from Deeds that Lead to Death
Faith toward G-d
Doctrine of Ceremonial Immersions
Laying On of Hands
S'michah, the Concept
S'michah, the Core Doctrine
S'michah, Other Examples 
Resurrection of the Dead
Eternal Judgment

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Warning: The truths contained in this teaching are not for the faint of heart, or the lukewarm! You can be sure that haSatan (the adversary) will do all he can to keep you from understanding and applying the concepts and truths contained herein, but it is our prayer that every one who receives these notes will carefully consider and apply the contents to their lives.

IX. The Laying on of Hands
bible icon...the foundation of...the laying on of hands (s'michat yadayim)...(Heb 6:1,2)
A. Biblical Terms
epithéseós te chairo-u: literally meaning, "firmly placing both hands upon something," from (epí), meaning "superimposition," "above," or " upon;" (títheimi), meaning to "purpose," "ordain," or "place;" (te) meaning "both" or "also;" (cha-ir), meaning "hollow tool for grasping," or "hand"

epíthesis, in the context the present topic, refers to the official imposition of hands for the purpose of imparting a commission or responsibility, or to bless or pray for healing
bible iconAnd the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.(Acts 6:5,6)

bible iconDo not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.(1Tim 4:14)

bible iconThen little children were brought to Him that He might put {His} hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.(Matt 19:13)
korbán: usually translated "offering," or "sacrifice," but which actually means "that which has been brought near"
bible iconTherefore if you bring your offering to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and make your offering.(Matt 5:23,24)

bible iconHe said to them, "{All too} well you reject the commandment of G-d, that you may keep your tradition. For Moshe said, 'Honor your father and your mother;' and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me {is} korban (that is, a gift {to G-d}),"' then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of G-d of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."(Mk 7:9-13)
root : The original sense is to "approach" or "bring {near}"

l'hakrív korbán: literally meaning, "to bring the sacrifice near." This phrase communicates, quite well, the concept of sacrifice, as it was performed in the ancient temple. The word sacrifice, itself, derives from the Latin, sacer (holy) + facere (to make). A korban is essentially, that which has been made holy by having been brought into G-d's presence in the sanctuary, which adds a whole new dimension of meaning to the following:
bible iconOh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of G-d! How unsearchable {are} His judgments and His ways past finding out! "For who has known the mind of HaShem? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?" For of Him and through Him and to Him {are} all things, to whom {be} glory forever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of G-d, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice (korban), holy, acceptable to G-d, {which} {is} your reasonable service (or spiritual form of worship).(Rom 11:33-12:1)
s'michát yadáyim: literally meaning "leaning the hands upon," from (samách), meaning "to lean upon," "lie hard," or "establish"; (yad), meaning "{open} hand", with suffix, (...ayim), meaning "a pair." In the context of this study, to lay one's hands upon someone or some thing, is to effectively transfer one's weight to what is leaned upon. Halachah (Jewish interpretation and application of law), requires one performing the rite of s'michah, to lean on the object (person or animal) with both hands, with all his force. One no longer supports himself, but is reliant upon a new or other support. It is important to consider what we are leaning on today...
bible iconThus says HaShem: "Cursed {is} the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from HaShem. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, {In} a salt land {which is} not inhabited. Blessed {is} the man who trusts in HaShem, and whose hope is HaShem. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. The heart {is} deceitful above all {things,} and desperately wicked; who can know it?"(Jer 17:5-9)

bible iconNow look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So {is} Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.(2Kgs 18:21)
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B. S'michah, the Concept

The meaning of the rite of s'michah begins to come into focus when examining the passage of Scripture, where, Moses was instructed to ordain, or commission, Yehoshua bin Nun (Joshua, son of Nun), to replace him as leader and G-d's representative to the people.

bible iconAnd HaShem said to Moshe: "Take Yehoshua bin Nun with you, a man in whom {is} the Ruach (Spirit), and lay your hand (v'samakhtá) on him; set him before Eleazar haKohen and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give {some} of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before HaShem for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him, all the congregation." So Moshe did as HaShem commanded him. He took Yehoshua and set him before Eleazar haKohen and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands on him and ordained him, just as HaShem commanded by the hand of Moshe.(Num 27:18-23)

The ordination described in the previous passage is apparently effected through a public ceremony, where Moses laid both hands upon Joshua's head. The passage continues, describing the ceremony as actually transferring "some of Moses' authority" to Joshua. By this act, Moses is identifying Joshua as the new leader, who is to be followed and obeyed, even as Moses had been. Essentially, Joshua is the new Moses.

Further illustration of the true meaning of s'michah is found in the application of the rite in the offering of a korban in the temple...

bible iconNow HaShem called to Moshe, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When any one of you brings an offering to HaShem, you shall bring your offering of the livestock, of the herd and of the flock. If his offering {is} a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before HaShem. Then he shall lean his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before HaShem; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that {is by} the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. Then the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that {is} on the fire upon the altar; but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to HaShem.(Lev 1:1-9)

A superficial examination of the previous passage could easily lead one to interpret the rite of s'michah in this context as transferring the sins of the one offering the korban to the korban. The actual meaning of the act is more subtle and yet, much more profound. It is not sin or guilt that is transferred, rather, it is identity that is transferred. Dependent upon the type of offering being made, the animal represents, or takes the place of, the one who offers it. Nachmanides (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman), one of Judaism's great, thirteenth century sages, in his commentary to Leviticus 1:9, offers a general explanation of korbanot:

He should burn the innards and the kidneys [of the offering] in the fire because they are the instruments of thought and desire in the human being. He should burn the legs [of the offering] since they correspond to the hands and feet of a person, which do all the work. He should sprinkle the blood upon the altar, which is analogous to the blood in his body. All these acts are performed in order that when they are done, a person should realize that he has sinned against G-d with his body and his soul, and that "his" blood should really be spilled and "his" body burned, were it not for the loving-kindness of the Creator, Who took from him a substitute and a ransom, namely this offering, so that its blood should be in the his blood, its life in the place of his life, and the chief limbs of the offering should be in the place of the chief parts of his body.
It is the rite of s'michah that manifests the notion that the animal stands in the place of the owner himself...The offering of a korban, according to Nachmanides, is essentially an execution in effigy. Its purpose is rehabilitative. As he stands before G-d in the Temple and witnesses his own execution by proxy for sins he committed, the owner of the offering is meant to reach a new awareness of his obligations to G-d so that his breach will not be repeated.

While the actual offering in view in Leviticus 9 is not expiatory (atoning for sin), but rather, an expression of unreserved devotion, dedication, and submission to G-d. However, the essential element, the rite of s'michah, is correctly interpreted, in that, the korban is representative of, and a substitute for, the one who offers it.

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C. S'michat Yadayim, Core Doctrine About Messiah

The concepts and principles already covered in this series are absolutely necessary to prepare us to receive and act upon the concept and principle of s'michat yadayim (laying on of hands): Teshuva (repentance) speaks of recognizing and turning from thoughts and actions that separate us from the Holy One; Emunah (faith or trust) speaks of putting our trust for provision, protection, and meaning, back where it belongs, in the Holy One; T'vilah (ceremonial immersion) speaks of definitively marking the transition, effectively putting the old way of life behind us.

It is necessary to turn from the wrong path to the right one, in our journey back to the Holy One, yet, the turning alone is insufficient. Even if one lives completely without error from the point of turning, to the end of life, one problem remains and continues to bar the path. In order to continue to exist in the presence of perfect, absolute holiness, one must, himself, be holy. Otherwise, there is only the fearful expectation of being consumed, even as Nadav and Avihu were consumed when approaching the Holy One in a non-prescribed manner and condition (Lev 10).

Perfect holiness does not, nor can it, compromise. It also cannot be defiled. That which is not holy is simply consumed in its presence. It was not G-d breaking out in anger against Nadav and Avihu, it was simply the result of entering the presence of perfect holiness without first purging the stain of its lack, no matter how slight.

Teshuvah (repentance), no matter how complete, simply does not deal with the stain of sin already acquired, up to the point of turning. The penalty for previous sin must be paid, either by the one who has sinned, or by a valid agent or substitute. Also, a fresh/new state of holiness must be obtained. This is the essence of the korbanot (offerings) in the temple. The animal must first be inspected to ensure that no blemish or deformity exists which could invalidate it as a korban (the symbolic perfection or holiness). Then the one making the offering performs the rite of s'michah upon the head of the animal, identifying it with himself, and himself with it. The duly specified substitute is then cut off from the living, symbolizing the separation from the Holy one, while the one offering the korban has the symbolic holiness of the substitute imputed to himself, or transferred to his account, if you were.

However, animal substitutes are insufficient to completely/permanently purge or preclude the stain of sin, because the next time the individual sins, the whole process must be repeated. In part, this is due to the fact that the substitute is not a perfect agent for the penitent, in that the substitute is not human, and yet is taking the place of a human. Also, the substitute is not becoming such of its own volition. For substitutionary agency/atonement to be perfect/complete, the substitute for an erring human must be a human, one who possesses the innocence and holiness required of such a substitute. Here is the where the death of our Messiah, may His Name be blessed, fits into the fabric of substitutionary atonement, woven by the Holy One, and symbolized by the korbanot (offerings) specified in our Holy Torah:

bible iconSurely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by G-d, and afflicted. But He {was} wounded for our transgressions, {He was} bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace {was} upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; and HaShem has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor {was any} deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the HaShem to bruise Him; He has put {Him} to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see {His} seed, He shall prolong {His} days, and the pleasure of the HaShem shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, {and} be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.(Isa 53:4-11)

Although no formal act of s'michat yadayim is physically performed, when one comes to the Holy One, on the merit of the Messiah (in His name), putting his trust in the provision made available by the Messiah's death, the essence of the rite of s'michah is fulfilled. The Messiah, may His Name be blessed, voluntarily yielded up his innocent/holy life on behalf of the guilty, taking his penalty/separation, and made His holiness available to the guilty. Messiah has completely and permanently atoned for the sin and guilt of any who put their trust in Him.

To obtain the provision of the Messiah, for entrance into the eternal presence of the Holy One, one must simply perform the following:

  1. The penitent must recognize and acknowledge that he is not holy, that he has sinned against G-d, and turn from that sin, while turning toward G-d and the righteous way of living He has prescribed.
  2. The penitent must understand and believe that Messiah Y'Shua, of Nazareth, has lived the perfect life that was required of the penitent, and that He laid that life down on the penitent's behalf, also that the Messiah was raised from the dead to show that the price paid was sufficient.
  3. Finally, the penitent must ask G-d to forgive him, not on his own merit, but on the basis of what Messiah has accomplished on his behalf. He must yield authority for how he lives his life to G-d and ask for access to G-d's holy presence from that point forward, unto eternity, also on the merit of Messiah Y'Shua.

From that moment on, the individual's life shall be forever changed. The Divine Presence takes residence within, and access to the perfect, absolute, holy presence of G-d is guaranteed, on the incorruptible merit of the Messiah. Once atonement has been completed in Messiah, access to G-d in the olam haba (age to come) is never again at risk. However, should the individual sin in the future, G-d forbid, the intimate relationship with G-d (and in some cases, man), in this age, is broken. To restore that fellowship, the individual must seek forgiveness from the person sinned against (if any), then he must come before the Holy One seeking His forgiveness and renewed cleansing, on the merit of the Messiah. No korban ever needs to be offered again, for the offering of Messiah, and its results, are complete and permanent.

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D. S'michat Yadayim, Other Examples
bible iconThen HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying: "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them {ceremonially.} Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purification on them, and let them shave all their body, and let them wash their clothes, and {so} make themselves clean. Then let them take a young bull with its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another young bull as a sin offering. And you shall bring the Levites before the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall gather together the whole congregation of the children of Israel. So you shall bring the Levites before HaShem, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites; and Aaron shall offer the Levites before HaShem, {like} a wave offering from the children of Israel, that they may perform the work of HaShem."(Num 8:5-11)

Here, s'michah is performed to indicate that, from the time of the service forward, the Levites were fully authorized/ordained as agents or representatives of the general congregation in the performance of required activities in the temple.

bible iconLet the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer {is} worthy of his wages." Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. I charge {you} before G-d and the L-rd Y'Shua the Messiah and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure.(1Tim 5:17-22)

Ever since the ordination of Joshua by Moses, via s'michat yadayim, the rite has been the accepted standard for ordination ceremonies. In modern times, s'michah (rabbinic ordination) is no longer conferred by the actual laying on of hands. However, apparently when this letter was written, spiritual leaders of Messianic congregations were still using the actual rite.

bible iconThen the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of G-d and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of {good} reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.(Acts 6:2-6)

Here we see the ordination of the first board of shamashim (deacons). The rite symbolized that the newly ordained leaders were authorized to perform the duties specifically delegated to them (oversight of the daily food distribution to the needy), in the name of, and under the authority of, the spiritual leaders, who were now free to focus of spiritual leadership activities (teaching, counseling, etc.).

bible iconNow when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of G-d, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the L-rd Y'Shua. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.(Acts 8:14-17)

In this case, the question is, "Why did the Spirit of the Holy One wait until the rite of s'michat yadayim?" The answer requires a bit of additional background information. A high level of enmity existed, at this time, between Jews and Samaritans. This is because of the dispute over religious authority, which stemmed back to the days of the subjugation of Samaria by the Assyrians, in the days of Hoshea, king of Israel. To ensure that subjugated peoples would not rebel against their new masters, the peoples were physically moved to other lands that had been subjugated by the Assyrians, moving peoples from those lands to the newly defeated territories. This effectively removed the nationalistic tendencies of the defeated peoples.

bible iconNow the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.(2Kgs 17:5-6)

bible iconThen the king of Assyria brought {people} from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed {them} in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.(2Kgs 17:24)

The Holy One responded to the sinful practices of the new occupants, and the king sought to have one of the descendants of Aaron, a priest, to instruct the new occupants concerning the requirements of the Holy One to live in the land. Such a priest was located, and he did give the required instruction. However, over the years, there was significant drift from the original principles given in Torah.

bible iconAnd it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, {that} they did not fear the HaShem; therefore the HaShem sent lions among them, which killed {some} of them. So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the G-d of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the G-d of the land."(2Kgs 17:25-26)

bible iconThen the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the G-d of the land." Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the HaShem. However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put {them} in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, {every} nation in the cities where they dwelt.(2Kgs 17:27-29)

By the time of Y'Shua, there were actually no common dealings between Jews and Samaritans. Each considered the genealogy, life, and practice of the other to be contaminated, even disputing the location where temple activities were to be performed.

bible iconThen the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings (or hold nothing in common) with Samaritans.(Jn 4:9)

bible iconOur fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you {Jews} say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.(Jn 4:20)

When Philip went to Samaria to proclaim the Good News of the Messiah, great numbers of Samaritans began to believe and put their trust in Y'Shua. However, the last group of people that religious Jews would believe the Holy One would accept into the fold was the Samaritans. Therefore, a definitive confirmation from G-d was required. When the Jerusalem leadership heard about the great movement in Samaria, they sent representatives (Peter and John), who began to lay their hands on the Samaritans.

A two way identification was needed. First, Jews needed to lean their hands upon the Samaritans, showing a willingness to identify with them. Then, the Samaritans needed to be willing to identify with the Jews, while at the same time, acknowledging that the Jews were the conveyers of the identification/authority, as the Messiah had said:

bible iconYou worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.(Jn 4:22)

Once the Jews and Samaritans had expressed their acceptance of the terms and new relationship with G-d and each other, the Holy One expressed His confirmation by the manifestation of His Spirit.

bible iconThen they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.(Acts 8:17)
1 Nachmanides, Commentary on the Torah, Leviticus 1:9, trans. Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel (New York: Shilo Publishing House, 1974) p. 21
2 Joshua Berman, The Temple, Its Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now (New Jersey: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1995) pp. 118-119

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