Torah Study Notes 4-28-12

April 28, 2012
p. 738
13:29 Skin problems and their remedy. Note that the remedy comes from the priest – not anyone identified as having medical skills. This is related in a way to the building of the mishkan and the tabernacle. Here one’s body is literally a temple. Here the priest is declaring the person “impure.” This text describes no known or identifiable disease – the reference is to spiritual impurity. Note the use of the number seven with its mystical import. EL: This all seems very irrelevant. PG: It has to do with what makes an individual prepared to be before God. The word “scall” means any scaly or scabby disease.
This entire text is operating as metaphor – the body is the lens of heaven on earth – the way that God’s will is focused on the individual. Understand that this is post-exilic. The second temple was not viewed as a true replacement of Solomon’s Temple. EL: This is a very unattractive metaphor. Even accepting the relationship with the mishkan. LL: This strikes me as satirical. The writer is the Mort Sahl of his day. He is looking at the fuss – the gold and silver of the mishkan and is saying: let’s look at the human body in the same way. PG: There may be a challenge to authority here. Priestly activity is placed into a form of absurdity. EL: Is there any occasion in which biblical scholars reject the text? PG: The beginning of the book of Numbers – the census – seems to be a straightforward method of counting. But the Haftarh of Isaiah says that the number of Israelites is beyond counting. To consider this patent contradiction is called “preaching against the text.” There is a dialectic here – a thesis and antithesis. A careful reading of Torah – a heartfelt reading – will frequently result in a dialectic. This is the midrash of dvar ahcer (Sp?) – another reading. Here there could be an expression of resistance to the authority of the priest. But it does raise the question: When is the purity of the individual sufficient to be in the presence of the divine? It is a function of what is inside of you – that can burst forth by eruptions in the skin. LL: Is this in the nature of psychosomatic disease? PG: It is more in the nature of cognitive dissonance – issues of threshold – between the struggle of hope and expectations and the harshness of reality. The reality at the time was idolatry and the apparent success of idolatrous nations. Living a good life may result in physical and material well being. But the latter does not guarantee the former – that is one of the lessons of the Book of Job.
LL/

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