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washing feet
middot humility besorah washing feet

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washing feet

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-footwashingMore than any other extremity on the human body feet get hit the hardest. Feet hold up a significant portion of our body’s weight, they sustain the greatest impact for the longest time, and without protection and regular showers they get rough and smelly. If you add on top of this the fact that modern hygiene and footwear were not always in the picture and we discover an entire world of feet far rougher than what we’ve experienced in the Western world for some time. This is precisely where we see one of Yeshua’s greatest acts of humility.

Yeshua, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Yeshua  answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Yeshua  answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

John 13:3─8

My guess is that in the ancient world pedicures were about as common among men as they are now and the likelihood of a man coming into intimate contact with another’s feet like this was slim to none, especially if the one washing was greater.  Even now, contact with another’s feet is a form of intimacy not often shared between adult male friends, or especially leaders. I would never dream of letting the President of the United States of America wash my feet! This is precisely the point…Yeshua is not just any great leader, he is so much more.

The level of discomfort expressed by Peter indicates that Yeshua’s humility required humility from him. It was incredibly humbling for the Messiah to wash someone’s feet but Peter was also required to be humble enough to allow his King to come into contact with one of the roughest and unattractive parts of him. His was the humility to be willing to be cleansed even at that level.

We often settle to be mostly clean, but this account shows us the will of God to be so humble as to come into contact with the basest parts of ourselves. It is our responsibility to be humble in our response and let him clean us. We also are reminded this season to see God in one another. May we learn to be more like our Messiah and care for others without thought of what’s “above or beneath us”…may we be more like Peter and allow ourselves to let a friend, and even Messiah himself wash our feet.

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