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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad


Naso 35-3

Lift up

Numbers 5:1-10

Speak to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong. But if the man has no next of kin to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution for wrong shall go to the LORD for the priest, in addition to the ram of atonement with which atonement is made for him.

Num. 5:6-8 ESV

Why does one need to do restitution?

Restitution is an important part of repentance, in Hebrew teshuvah - תשובה. If one does not make restitution for what was done, then repentance is not complete. If it is impossible to make restitution for the damage that was done, one still has to do everything possible for it to be a full restitution including 25% added to the damages, as it is written in Luke 19:8-9, “Zakkai stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.’ Yeshua said to him, ‘Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Avraham.’”(HNV)

Salvation had come to Zakkai’s home. Therefore he was willing to make restitution for the financial damage that he had caused others. He was even willing to go further than what was written in the Torah. The proof that salvation had come to his home was that he gave back money to those that he had stolen from and deceived. The way to salvation is through repentance. There are seven steps to true repentance:

  • Acknowledgement of sin.

  • Remorse.

  • Confession before HaShem and before people.

  • Asking for forgiveness to HaShem and to people.

  • A resolve to change.

  • Restitution of damages.

  • Faithfulness in the ten tests that HaShem sends in order to strengthen those who repent.

This text shows us that there are three reasons for which we must make restitution. First, we see that any damage against our neighbour is an offence against the Eternal. He who hurts his neighbour hurts the Eternal as well. Therefore, restitution must be made in order to repair the damage caused to the Eternal. This is the reason why someone who hurt his neighbour had to give the payment to the priest – who represents the Eternal – in case the person who was hurt died without family or relatives.

Secondly, we see that restitution is necessary to compensate the person or his relatives for the damage done.

Thirdly, we must make restitution for ourselves in order to be certain that we've done everything in our power to repair the damage we did. This is good for the conscience and it's a means to create responsibility in men. Restitution causes the one who is guilty to be lifted to a level of dignity by showing he is responsible.

This commandment also shows men not to take offences against the neighbour lightly, which also acts as a psychological brake so he doesn't commit the same action or something similar again.

Dear disciple of the Messiah, if you do not give back what you have stolen and make all possible restitution for the damage that you have caused others, then you have not repented and salvation has not come to you. Don't let yourself be deceived by the idea that everything has become new in the Messiah and that you need not take responsibility to make restitution to those that you hurt.

Kol tuv,

Ketriel


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